Northern Circuit Route

The Northern Circuit of Kilimanjaro is the least used route and offers a completely different take on climbing Kilimanjaro.

While this route misses some of the dramatic geological features of the standard routes such as Machame and Lemosho to the south of the mountain, it does head way off the beaten track and has a charm all of its own. It heads right around the back of the mountain. For those that want the most remote trip, this is it.

This route is normally done starting from the Lemosho Route making an 8-day itinerary but it could also be done starting on the Shira Route taking 7 days. I’d consider that to be quite an extreme route though!

Northern Circuit Route Map and Itinerary from Lemosho

  • Day 1
    On arrival in Kilimanjaro airport you’ll be driven to the base hotel. This evening you’ll have a briefing where you’ll be given details about the forthcoming climb and have a chance to ask any questions.
  • Day 2
    After breakfast you’ll be driven to the Marangu Gate at the south-east of the mountain. You’ll have about 4-5 hours walking through lush rainforest before arriving at Mandara Hut, 2,700m.
  • Day 3
    You’ll walk about 15kms today through changing vegetation. It’ll take 5-6 hours to reach Horombo Hut, 3,720m 3,720m
  • Day 4
    From Horombo you’ll continue the climb, crossing The Saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo peaks. Your destination is Kibo Hut, 4,703m. This will be a long and tiring day as altitude will start to tell. Expect to spend between 6 and 8 hours walking.
  • Day 5
    Summit day! You’ll be woken at around midnight for the 5 hour walk up steep scree to Gillman’s Point at 5,690m. There will be plenty of rest stops on the way. It’s another 1-2 hours around the crater rim to Uhuru Peak at 5,895m. Give yourself a few moments to enjoy your achievement before beginning the descent back to Horombo Hut, a descent of some 4-5 hours.
  • Day 6
    After breakfast at Horombo you’ll continue down to the park gates a Marangu, 1,843m, 5-7 hours walking. Here you’ll be picked up and driven back to the base hotel. Check into your room and enjoy the luxury of a hot shower before a drink or two in the bar and a celebratory dinner.
  • Day 7
    Transfer to Kilimanjaro airport for your onward travels.

Northern Circuit Route Map and Itinerary from Shira

  • Day 1
    On arrival in Kilimanjaro airport you’ll be driven to the base hotel. This evening you’ll have a briefing where you’ll be given details about the forthcoming climb and have a chance to ask any questions.
  • Day 2
    We set out in vehicles to the starting point at Londorosiemosho gate. We finish formalities and drive up to Murram barrier and walk to Simba caves. Lunch is taken on trail and camp is reached mid afternoon. Overnight Simba Camp  3,600m
  • Day 3
    After a relatively long hike and significant altitude gain yesterday, today is a shorter day and you arrive in Moir camp in good time. This is a good day for acclimatisation. Overnight Moir Camp – 4,100m
  • Day 4
    The route today diverges from the traditional western routes and head north and then east around the Kibo Massif. Here, for the time being at least, there are relatively few other groups. You hike through the alpine desert skirting the edge of the heath zone to Pofu camp. Most people arrive for lunch and then take an afternoon acclimatisation hike. Overnight Pofu camp – 4,025m
  • Day 5
    From Pofu you hike a ridge and continue around the Kibo massif to Cave 3 skirting the edge of the heath zone. Once at Cave 3 there is time to rest and a short acclimatisation walk in the late afternoon – 3,915m
  • Day 6
    From Cave 3 you continue around the north and eastern flanks of Kibo and arrive into School Hut in time to check through your gear for the summit bid. After an early dinner you retire for some sleep. Dinner and overnight School Hut – 4,750m
  • Day 7
    This is it – summit day! You’ll be woken at about midnight with a hot drink before you set out, torch in hand, for the initial climb to Gillman’s Point. At night time the scree sections are normally much firmer and the night time start enables the best chance of a clear summit attempt.It takes around 6 hours to reach Gilman’s point and then a further 11/2 to 2 hours to reach Uhuru Peak,the highest freestanding point in the world and the highest point in Africa.You then descend the same route before a short stop at Kibo hut for a food refuel and rest. By the evening you descend back down to Horombo hut for dinner and overnight. Overnight Horombo Hut – 4,750m – 5,895m -3,706m
  • Day 8 After breakfast you descend once again through the heth zone and montane forest and around mid day after saying farewell to your crew, you are picked up and transfer back to your hotel for a well deserved shower!
  • Day 9 Transfer to Kilimanjaro airport or your onward travels.
L

Amanda Marks

Managing Director
Self confessed Africa-lover, but keen on all new travel experiences, Amanda is passionate about getting to know different cultures.

L

Tracy Edwards

Travel Consultant
Tracy was been born and spent her youth in South Africa, the draw of the animals, the people and wilds of Africa have always run through her veins.

L

Sinead Bailey

Travel Consultant
Sinead caught the travel bug following a year out after university. She has worked in the travel industry ever since, and visited many countries including South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia.

L

Christine MacDougall

Travel Consultant
The African dust is firmly planted in Chris’s heart. Born in Tanzania she spent much of her childhood in and around Ruaha. Travel and safari was part of life and through into adulthood fun and travel has never left her.