Northern Circuit Map & Itinerary: The Newest And Longest Kilimanjaro Route

Northern Circuit Map & Itinerary: The Newest And Longest Kilimanjaro Route – Mount Kilimanjaro’s newest and longest trail is the Northern Circuit.

The first two days of this route are identical to those of the Lemosho Route, both of which start in the west at the Londorossi Gate. The trail heads north at Lava Tower after traversing the Shira Plateau, taking the lengthier Northern Circuit rather than the shorter Southern Circuit through Barranco Valley (as seen on the map below).

MOST Successful Route on Kilimanjaro | Northern Circuit Route

The path goes around the mountain’s gentler northern slopes and down its eastern side.

From here, you can take any of several alternative routes down from Kilimanjaro, including the Machame, Umbwe, Lemosho, or Shira, although all of them will eventually get you to the summit via Gilman’s Point.

Our Northern Circuit of Kilimanjaro guide is presented in its entirety below.

Northern Circuit Route Map

The Northern Circuit is the longest of Kilimanjaro’s pathways, requiring a minimum of eight days to complete and typically requiring nine.

Since Northern Circuit hikers spend more time atop the mountain, they have a better chance of reaching the summit.

This eight-day hike bypasses the traditional rest day at Shira Camp 2 and instead travels via Lava Tower and on to Moir Camp.

Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit Itinerary

This is a nine-day plan for a Northern Circuit trek that uses the Mweka Route on the return trip.

Day 1 – Londorossi Gate (2,100 meters) – start point 2,360 meters to Mti Mkubwa Camp (2,820 meters)

Londorossi Gate (2,100 meters) in the West marks the beginning of the Northern Circuit Route and the Lemosho Route.

From Moshi, the trip to Londorossi Gate takes around two hours; from Arusha, it takes a much longer. After checking in with the park rangers at the entrance, you’ll be transported higher up the mountain to the trailhead.

Before starting the short first-day walk to Mti Mkubwa Camp (2,820 meters), most tour providers serve lunch here.

As you make your way to your first camp in the jungle, you might be lucky enough to see enormous animals like elephants and buffalo. Upon arrival at Mti Mkubwa Camp, you will be served dinner.

Distance: ~5.5km / 3.5 miles
Trekking time: 3-4 hours
Zone: Rainforest

Day 2 – Mti Mkubwa Camp (2,820 meters) to Shira Camp 1 (3,610 meters)

During the first hour of day two, you’ll go along the final stretch of rainforest trail before entering the low alpine moorland zone and eventually reaching the Shira Plateau. The trail is easy to follow and not too long, leading to Shira Camp 1 at 3,610 meters.

Distance: ~8km / 5 miles
Trekking time: 5-6 hours
Zone: Low-alpine zone

Day 3 – Shira Camp 1 (3,610 meters) to Shira Camp 2 (3,850 meters)

Travel from Shira Camp 1 to Shira Camp 2 takes place across the Shira Plateau on day three of the hike. The night of day nine is spent at Shira Camp 2, where hikers from the Machame Route meet those from day nine.

It is well worth the effort to climb a bit higher on the plateau at Shira Camp 2 to take in the breathtaking panorama of the valley below and the Western Breach of Kilimanjaro beyond.

Since the plateau is open, you should anticipate sub-zero temperatures at night.

In this eight-day trek, hikers will ascend the Shira Plateau ridge to Lava Tower (4,600 meters), and then descend to Moir Camp (4,200 meters) via the Northern Circuit.

Day 4 – Shira Camp 2 (3,850 meters) to Lava Tower (4,600 meters) and then north to Moir Camp (4,200 meters)

On day four, you’ll go on a long journey to the east, traveling through the so-called “Garden of the Senecios” before reaching the high alpine desert.

In the morning, you’ll embark on a hike to the famous Shark’s Tooth rock formation and Lava Tower, where you’ll stop for lunch at an elevation of 4,600 meters.

You’ll be joining the northern circuit, which descends to Moir Camp at 4,200 meters (above on the map) after lunch. The acclimatization process will proceed more smoothly if you spend the day at a high altitude and then descend to a lower one for the night.

Distance: 14 km / 8 miles
Trekking time: 5-7 hours
Zone: High-alpine zone

Day 5 – Moir Camp (4,200 meters) to Buffalo Camp (4,020 meters)

The fifth day begins with a strenuous ascent out of Moir Valley.

To reach the 4,375-meter peak of Little Lent Hill, hikers must first deviate from the Northern Circuit route. From here, you’ll make your way to Buffalo Camp at an altitude of 4,020 meters over a series of steep ascents and descents that circle the northern slopes of Kibo.

The walk offers stunning views of the plains that extend from north of Kilimanjaro in Kenya and Tanzania. After a long day of hiking, you will reach Buffalo Camp about noon, where you may rest and eat lunch.

Distance: 12 km / 7.5 miles
Trekking time: 5-7 hours
Zone: High-alpine zone

Day 6 – Buffalo Camp (4,020 meters) to Rongai Third Cave (3,800 meters)

The sixth day begins with a trek up Buffalo Ridge and then a descent to Porfu Camp for lunch. After circling the northern slopes to the east, the trail reaches the Rongai Third Cave at 3,800 meters.

The hike is easier today because you’ve had a day to adjust to the higher altitude. In the early to mid afternoon, you will reach the Third Cave.

Distance: 8 km / 5 miles
Trekking time: 5-7 hours
Zone: High alpine zone and low alpine zone

Day 7 – 3rd Cave (3,800 meters) to School Hut (4,800 meters)

The seventh day of the climb consists of a steady ascent to the top of the Saddle, which separates Kibo and Mawenzi Peak. The next stop on the trek is School Hut, located at an elevation of 4,800 meters to the south-west.

Assuming you arrive at School Hut in time for dinner, you should turn in for the night before your summit bid at midnight.

It’s important to get everything ready the night before, including warm clothing, insulated water bottles, snacks, a headlamp, and a camera.

Distance: ~15km / 8.5 miles
Trekking time: 4-5 hours
Zone: High alpine zone

Day 8 – School Hut (4,800 meters) to Uhuru Peak (5,895 meters) and then onto Millennium Camp (3,950 meters)

You will be awakened at 11:30 with hot tea and biscuits before beginning the nighttime ascent of Kibo’s slopes.

Hans Meyer Cave is your first stop and a good place to rest. After 5 or 6 hours of hiking from School Hut, you’ll reach the steepest portion of the ascent at Gilman’s Point (5,681 meters).

Enjoy the coming dawn and the breathtaking vista out toward Mawenzi Peak, but don’t get too comfortable; you still have two hours of hiking to go before you reach Uhuru. As you head west around the crater rim, the terrain levels out, and you can reach the peak before or shortly after sunrise. You won’t have much time to take in the stunning scenery and impressive glaciers in the area.

At Stella Point (5,739 m), you’ll turn south and descend Kibo’s highly screed slopes to Barafu Camp (4,680 m), where you started your ascent.

Most hikers rest for a while before making the last descent to Millennium Camp (3,950 meters) for the night. You will be on the trail for 14-16 hours on day eight, so make sure to take it easy, drink plenty of water, and snack frequently. It should be noted that some tour companies take the Marangu Route back to Horombo Hut via Gilman’s Point.

Distance: ~6km / 3.5 miles ascent and 10.5km / 6 mile descent
Trekking time: 6-8 hours ascent and then 4-6 hour descent
Zone: Glacial zone and all preceding zones

Day 9 – Millennium Camp (3,950 meters) to Mweka Gate (1,640 meters)

Finally, on the last day, you’ll make the short journey from Millennium Camp (3,950 meters) to Mweka Gate (1,640 meters) through the verdant montane rainforest.

You must sign out with the authorities at the gate, where you will also receive your official certificate, either a green one if you reached Gilman’s Point or a gold one if you reached Uhuru Peak.

Before being driven back to your hotel in Moshi or Arusha, it is traditional to tip your guides and porters (see: tipping Kilimanjaro porters).

Distance: ~10km / 6.5 miles
Trekking time: 3-4 hours
Zone: Rainforest zone

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