The newest route up Mount Kilimanjaro just might be its best. That’s because the Northern Circuit route is a combination of all of the best elements of the other routes, rolled into one fantastic hike. If you’re looking for beautiful scenery, plenty of solitude, a healthy challenge, and the potential to spot wildlife, this is definitely the route for you.
The Northern Circuit route follows the same route as Lemosho route for the first few days, but rather than sticking to the south side of Kibo, it turns to the little-used northern trails instead. This path is virtually devoid of other trekkers and as a result, the campsites are quiet, peaceful, and practically deserted.
Because the Northern Circuit route is longer than the other trails, it gives trekkers a chance to take in more of the mountain. Not only do they get a chance to hike across the awe-inspiring Shira Plateau, they’ll also catch glimpses of Kibo Peak and Uhuru Summit along the way. It also provides amazing views down onto the open plains that are found to the north of the mountain, something that is seen by only a handful of other hikers while climbing Kilimanjaro.
Due to its extended length, much of which hovers around the same altitude for improved acclimatization, the Northern Circuit route has the highest success rate of any of the routes on Mount Kilimanjaro. The trek begins at the Londorossi Gate and makes its way up the western flanks of the mountain, passing through the rainforest and climbing onto the the Shira Ridge. From there, it is up to the Shira Plateau itself, before heading north to circle in a clockwise direction starting at the Moir Hut, then moving on to Buffalo Camp, and finally School Hut. Along the way, trekkers make an almost 360 degree hike around Kilimanjaro, before summiting from the east.
So with everything that the Northern Circuit route has going for it, what’s the downside? The only issue with hiking this route is that it requires a bit of extra time, something that few travelers have. While most of the other routes can be done in as few as six or seven days, the Northern Circuit route often requires as many as nine or more. That often limits the number of people who can work this trail into their schedule, although those that do will find that it is completely worth it.
Starting from Londorossi Gate to the summit and finish at Mweka Gate
|Day||Start||Altitude (m)||Altitude (ft)||Finish||Altitude (m)||Altitude (ft)||Time (hrs)||Distance (km)||Distance (miles|
|1||Londorossi Gate||2,360||7,742||Mti Mkubwa||2,895||9,498||3-4||6||4|
|2||Mti Mkubwa||2,895||9,498||Shira 1 Camp||3,505||11,500||5-6||8||5|
|3||Shira 1 Camp||3,505||11,500||Shira 2 Camp||3,810||12,500||3-4||7||4|
|4||Shira 2 Camp||3,810||12,500||Lava Tower||4,630||15,190||3-4||7||4|
|Lava Tower||4,630||15,190||Moir Hut||4,200||13,580||2-3||7||4|
|5||Moir Hut||4,200||13,580||Buffalo Camp||4,020||13,200||5-7||12||7|
|6||Buffalo Camp||4,020||13,200||3rd Cave||3,870||12,700||5-7||8||5|
|7||3rd Cave||3,870||12,700||School Hut||4,750||15,600||4-5||5||3|
|8||School Hut||4,750||15,600||Uhuru Peak||5,895||19,341||6-8||6||4|
|Uhuru Peak||5,895||19,341||Mweka Camp||3,068||10,065||4-6||12||7|
|9||Mweka Camp||3,068||10,065||Mweka Gate||1,640||5,380||3-4||10||6|