THE NORTHERN CIRCUIT- THE NEWEST AND LONGEST ROUTE ON MOUNT KILIMANJARO
It begins from the west at the Londorossi Gate and follows the same path as Lemosho Route for the first two days. After crossing the Shira Plateau the path veers north near lava Tower, following the longer Northern Circuit instead of the more popular Southern circuit via Barranco valley.
The route circles around the quieter northern slopes to the East side of the mountain. There a few different route variations from this point, however, all approach the summit via Gilman’s point and then either descend via the Mweka Route joining trekkers from the Machame, Umbwe, Lemosho, and Shira routes, or via the Marangu route.
The 8 day trek skips the additional acclimatization day that is usually spent at Shira camp 2 and continues straight on to Moir Camp, via lava Tower. The itinerary below is for a 9 day trek, using the Mweka route for descent.
3-4 hours: Rainforest
Londorossi Gate (2,100 meters) to start point 2,360 meters to Mti Mkubwa Camp (2,820 meters).
The Northern Circuit begins at Londorossi Gate. The drive to Londorossi Gate takes approximately 2 hours from Moshi and considerably longer from Arusha. Registration with the Kilimanjaro National Park Authorities occurs at the Gate and then you will be driven further up the mountain to the trailhead starting Point. Most tour operators serve lunch here before the short first day trek to Mti Mkubwa Camp (2,820 meters) begins. You may get lucky and spot large wildlife like elephant and buffalo that sometime emerge from rainforest onto the path as you trek towards your first camp. Dinner will be served when you reach Mti Mkubwa Camp.
5-6 hours: Rainforest / Low Alpine Zone
Mti Mkubwa Camp (2,820 meters) to Shira Camp (3,610 meters)
Day two you will spend the first hour trekking through the last section on rainforest path before entering the low alpine moorland zone which follows up onto Shira Plateau. The trek is short and gradual, ending at Shira Camp (3,610 meters
3-4 hours: Rainforest / Low alpine Zone
Shira Camp 1 (3,610 meters) to Shira Camp 2 (3,850 meters)
Distance: 7 km / 4.35 miles
One day three the trek crosses the Shira Plateau from Shira Camp 1 to Shira Camp 2. Nine day trekkers usually spend the night at Shira Camp 2 where they will join trekkers from the Machame Route. At Shira Camp 2 it’s worth trekking a little higher up the plateau to enjoy the stunning view across the valley below and western of Kilimanjaro above. The plateau is exposed so be prepared for a cold night with temperatures getting below zero
Note. Trekkers on an eight day hike will continue east up the Shira plateau ridge and onto lava Tower (4,600 meters). And then back down via the Northern Circuit to Moir Camp (4,200 meters)
5-7 hours: Low alpine zone/ high alpine zone
Distance: 14km / 8 miles
Day four is a long trek heading to East passes through the “Garden of senecios” and then enters to the high alpine desert zone. The morning is spent trekking up to Lava Tower and the iconic Shark’s tooth rock formation at 4,600 meters. Here, you’ll have lunch and after lunch you’ll join the northern circuit heading down to Moir Camp at 4,200 meters.
This is an important day in your trek as you’ll get to experience high altitude and then sleep low, which is good for acclimatization process
5-7 hours: High alpine zone
Distance: 12km / 7 miles
Day five involves a moderately steep climb out of Moir Valley. Trekkers can take a small tour here to climb the summit of little Lent Hill at (4,375 meters) before returning to the northern circuit trail. From here routs follows a series of inclines and declines, skirting around the around the northern slope of Kibo to Buffalo Camp (4,020 meters). The trek gives great vistas out across the plains that lie north of Kilimanjaro and stretch out to the Kenya and Tanzanian boarder. You’ll arrive at Buffalo camp after midday, where you’ll have lunch and have time to rest after a long day hiking.
5-7 hours: High alpine zone and low alpine zone
Distance: 8km /
Day six you will starts climbing up the Buffalo ridge and down into Porfu Camp where lunch is usually served. Then the route continues East around the northern slopes to the Rongai 3rd Cave at (3,800 meters). The trek is short than the day before and by now you should feeling well acclimatized to the altitude. You will arrive at the 3rd Cave around mid-afternoon.
4-5 hours: High alpine and glacial zone
Distance: 15 km / miles
Day seven involves a steady incline up and over the saddle which seats between the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi Peak. Then trekkers continue walking south-west up to school Hut (4,800 meters) After arriving at
School Hut you’ll be served an early dinner and then you should get some shut-eye as you’ll be awoken before midnight to start you’re your summit attempt. Remember to prepare your gear including, warm clothes, insulated water bottles, snacks, headlamp and camera before go to bed.
6-8 hours ascent and then 4-6 hour descent: Glacial zone and all preceding zones
Distance: 6 km / 3.5 miles ascent and 10.5km / 6 mile descent
You’ll be awoken around 11:30 with hot tea and biscuits and will then begin the steep inline up the slopes of Kibo under the cover of darkness. Your first check-point is Hans Meyer Cave where you’ll take a short break. The climb steepens as you approach Gilman’s point (5,681 meters), which will be around 5-6 hours after departing school Hut. Take a moment to enjoy the approaching dawn and incredible view across to Mawenzi Peak, but remember you still have 2 hours trekking to reach Uhuru Peak so dig deep for the energy. The slope flattens as you head west around the Crater rim and you should arrive at the summit or just after sunrise. Your stay here will be brief so get as many pictures as you can of the superb views and surrounding glaciers. You’ll the retrace your steps back around the crater rim to Stella point (5,739 meters) where you’ll turn south and head down the heavily screed slopes of Kibo to Barafu Camp (4,680 meters). Most trekkers take a short break here before continuing down to Millennium Camp (3,950 meters) for your final night on the mountain.
3-4 hours : Rain forest zone.
Distance: 10km /6.5 miles
The final day is a short hike through the dense rainforest from Millennium camp (3950 meters) to Mweka gate (1,640 meters). At the gate you’ll need to sign-out with the authorities, who will also provide you with your official certificate-a green certificate for those who made it to Gilman’s Point and a gold certificate for those who reached to Uhuru peak. Its customary to give your guides and porters tips at this point before being driven back to your hotel in Moshi or Arusha.
(All meals included).