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northern circuit route map

T he Northern Circuit is one of the newest routes on Kilimanjaro. It is an amazing climb and the only one that circles clockwise around the north side of Mount Kilimanjaro. The Northern Circuit begins at the Lemosho gate and ascends quickly through the lush rainforest. It follows the Lemosho path for the first few days. The route continues ascending to the desolate yet beautiful Shira Plateau in the Heather/Moorland zone. From there the route continues to the prominent Lava Tower before heading north on the only route on that side of Kilimanjaro. You will feel like you have the entire mountain to yourself as you are treated to amazing views of Kenya below. It continues to circle around until it reaches the northeast side and heads for the summit from there. 

The total number of days on the mountain is eight and a half to the summit and one and a half to the Mweka gate.


We recommend booking your flight to arrive at least the morning before your climb starts or two evenings prior. It is difficult to get a trip briefing and proper rest if you arrive the evening before your climb. Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) is 45 minutes from your lodging. We will pick you up from JRO and take you to your hotel, or you can take a taxi.

At the trip briefing, we will make sure you have the required equipment, perform your initial health check, and that you have the appropriate mandatory medical coverage and travel insurance.

Kilimanjaro: Day 1

2-3 hours · 2.9 miles elevation: +1,700 ft.

From the hotel, we will drive you to the Londorossi National Park gate to sign you in, and then onto the cultivation zone to the Lemosho trailhead. While the guides and porters weigh the gear you’ll have time to eat lunch and begin your trek to Lemosho Forest Camp (8,700 ft). You’ll camp there for the night. We will perform a daily health check and give a quick briefing of what the next day will entail including how much water to bring.

Kilimanjaro: Day 2

6-7 hours · 4.9 miles · elevation: +3,000 ft.

Day two the trek continues through the rainforest until the trail turns and suddenly the jungle trees are gone and you are surrounded by the giant heather shrub of the Moorland zone. The trail climbs steadily up rolling hills with expansive views until you reach the Shira Plateau. You will continue along this relatively flat, rock plain toward your camp at Shira I (11,600 ft).

Kilimanjaro: Day 3

4-5 hours · 9.9 miles · elevation: +1,000 ft.

Today is an easier day designed to allow your body to acclimate to the elevation. You’ll start at camp and climb west to the volcanic rock formations of Shira Cathedral (12,800 ft.). You’ll rest a bit here and eat, admiring the stunning views. After lunch, you’ll continue to Shira II camp a bit lower (12,600 ft). This campsite has some of the best views of the summit. The view of Mount Meru floating on the clouds is unforgettable.

Kilimanjaro: Day 4

5-7 hours · 7.2 miles · elevation: +1,000 ft.

Today you’ll start the morning by following the Lemosho route up toward Lava Tower (15,150 ft). You’ll break for lunch there and those who are feeling strong may want to climb up to the ruined hut at Arrow Glacier (15,700 ft). From Lava Tower, you’ll descend down to your camp at Moir Hut (13,800 ft).

Kilimanjaro: Day 5

4-7 hours · 4.4 miles · elevation: +1,800 ft. gain · -1800 ft. loss

The morning begins by making the climb out of the Moir Valley. It continues by taking a short acclimatization climb to the summit of the Lent Hills (15,400 ft). After spending a moment admiring the views you’ll return to the trail and head east. At this point, you’ll head across a field of slab rock that makes a unique sound as you hike along. The rest of the hike continues over rolling hills until you reach Buffalo Camp (13,600 ft). From camp, the expansive views of Kenya below are simply stunning.

Kilimanjaro: Day 6

5-7 hours · 5.1 miles · elevation: -800 ft.

From Buffalo Camp, you’ll hike to the top of Buffalo Ridge. Along the way, you’ll continue along over ridges and into gullies. The trail continues heading east through a barren yet beautiful landscape until you reach your next camp—Third Cave Camp (12,800 ft).

Kilimanjaro: Day 7

4-5 hours · 3.0 miles · elevation: +2,700 ft.

The hike today begins with a steady climb to the saddle, a landscape between the peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo that resembles the moon. Once at the saddle the trail ascends steeply to your next camp at School Hut (15,500 ft). You’ll arrive early and spend the remainder of the day resting for summit night.

Kilimanjaro: Day 8

11-15 hours · 9.6 miles· elevation: +3,845 ft. gain · -9,300 ft. loss

The guide will wake you around midnight and to dress and eat and then you’ll begin your summit attempt around 1 a.m. This is the most challenging part of your journey. You’ll start in the dark, plodding along by headlamp on the neverending switchbacks. The trail will consist of loose volcanic scree and will continue going up until you reach the crater rim at Gilman’s Point (18,600 ft). You’ll rest here for a short time admiring the beautiful sunrise over Mawenzi peak.

The final leg of your ascent takes about an hour and a half from here. You’ll pass by spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs en route to the summit—Uhuru Peak (19,341 feet). After resting at the summit, eating, and waiting your turn taking photos on the sign, you’ll backtrack down to Stella Point. From there you’ll make the quick descent to Barafu Camp for a short break. After your break, you’ll finish the day by descending to  Mweka Camp (10,000 ft).

Kilimanjaro: Day 9

4-6 hours · 5.14 miles · elevation: -4,800 ft

After breakfast, you’ll begin the remainder of your descent through the rainforest to the Mweka Gate (5,400 ft.). You’ll be entertained by singing birds and crazy primates swinging through the trees saying goodbye to you as you finish your journey. Once your guide has checked you out, you’ll travel through coffee plantations and fields of bananas and avocado as you head back toward your hotel.


After breakfast, you’ll either be driven to JRO or picked up for your safari.

Northern Circuit Map


  • All park fees and taxes
  • Hotel lodging the night before and the night after the climb (double occupancy)
  • Breakfast
  • Transport to and from the hotel and trailhead
  • Tents (double occupancy)
  • Sleeping pad
  • All meals and water on the mountain
  • Support personnel (guides, cooks, and porters)


  • Airfare to Tanzania
  • Airport pick up and drop off
  • Tips for guides and porters
  • Sleeping bags and other personal gear
  • Rental gear – Sleeping bag, jacket, duffel, private toilet tent, trekking poles
  • Visa
  • Travel Insurance
  • Drinks and/or snacks
  • Lunch and dinner at the hotel

Miles & Elevation