About the Northern Circuit Route

At 55.9mi in length, the Northern Circuit Route is the longest and newest trail leading up to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Combining the world famous highlights of the Lemosho Route with the secluded paths found on the northern slopes of the mountain, some argue that this is the best Kilimanjaro adventure that one can experience.

In addition to the scenic views, trail highlights, and secluded areas, the Northern Circuit Route also features a longer acclimatization period than most of the other trails leading up the mountain, which in turn has resulted in an increased summit success rate when compared to any other route. If you have enough time to experience this longer route to the tip of Africa we strongly recommend taking it!

For those in search of a more general overview of this epic outdoor adventure, be sure to check out our complete guide to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to see if it is an experience you think is worth chasing!

Northern Circuit Route Map

Northern Circuit Route Itinerary

Day 1 Lemosho Trailhead to Mti Mkubwa Camp

The first day of your Mount Kilimanjaro summit adventure will see you head to the Londorossi Gate for entry , before driving up to the Lemosho trailhead. Here, you will begin trekking through a rainforest ecozone that is teeming with plant and animal life to reach the Mti Mkubwa Camp.

Elevation Change: 2690ft Ascent
Distance: 3.7mi
Time: 2-3h
Terrain: Rainforest
Overnight Location: Mti Mkubwa Camp

Day 2 Trek to Shira 1 Camp

Today you will leave the rainforest behind and begin trekking through the moorland heath terrain to reach the crest of the Shira Ridge. Stunning views of the surrounding landscape await as you make your way into Shira 1 Camp on the Western side of the Shira Plateau.

Elevation Change: 2789ft Ascent
Distance: 5.0mi
Time: 4-5h
Terrain: Heath
Overnight Location: Shira 1 Camp

Day 3 Traverse the Shira Plateau

On day 3 of your journey you will be able to acclimatize to the higher altitude as you make your way across the Shira Plateau. There are also some side trails here that allow you to further explore the area.

Elevation Change: 1148ft Ascent
Distance: 5.0mi
Time: 4-5h
Terrain: Heath
Overnight Location: Shira 2 Camp

Day 4 Lava Tower and Moir Camp

Leaving the heath ecozone behind, you will transition into the alpine desert and notice the lush plant life begin to dissipate. Here, you will have lunch below the Lava Tower rock formation (with plenty of time for exploring of course!) and continue along the Northern Circuit Trail in the afternoon to reach Moir Camp.

Elevation Change: 1148ft Ascent
Distance: 8.7mi
Time: 5-7h
Terrain: Alpine Desert
Overnight Location: Moir Camp

Day 5 Hike out of the Moir Valley

Trekking out of the Moir Valley, day 5 of your Kilimanjaro tour is fairly relaxed and features the option to hike up Little Lent Hill. An undulating trail along the slopes of Kibo will bring you to the secluded Buffalo Camp for the night.

Elevation Change: 591ft Descent
Distance: 7.5mi
Time: 5-6h
Terrain: Alpine Desert
Overnight Location: Buffalo Camp

Day 6 Trek the Buffalo Ridge

Today you will traverse the Buffalo Ridge and skirt around the northern slope of the mountain to reach the Rongai Third Cave. This relatively easy day will help you further with acclimatizing to the altitude, although you should be feeling pretty good already!

Elevation Change: 722ft Descent
Distance: 5.0mi
Time: 5-7h
Terrain: Heath
Overnight Location: Third Cave Camp

Day 7 Traverse the Saddle Between Kibo and Mawenzi

A bit of a rugged and more challenging day on the trails, you will be able to experience some stunning views of the mountain landscape as you traverse the saddle between Kibo and Mawenzi Peaks. After arriving at the School Hut Camp, you will eat dinner and tuck in for an early night in preparation of the big summit day ahead.

Elevation Change: 3281ft Ascent
Distance: 9.3mi
Time: 4-5h
Terrain: Alpine Desert
Overnight Location: School Hut Camp

Day 8 Mount Kilimanjaro Summit Day

Finally, the day to summit Mount Kilimanjaro has arrived. With an early midnight start, you will begin pushing your way to Uhuru for the final ascent and experience a breathtaking sunrise in the process. After reaching the summit and taking in the incredible views, you will descend the mountainside to the Millenium Camp for the night.

Elevation Change: 3593ft Ascent/6381ft Descent
Distance: 10.6mi
Time: 10-15h
Terrain: Arctic/Rainforest
Overnight Location: Millennium Camp

Day 9 Descend to Mweka Gate and Return to Moshi

The final day of your adventure will be a relaxing descent down through the different ecozones to reach the Mweka Gate. Here, you will receive your summit certificate and meet up with your driver in order to head back to Moshi.

Elevation Change: 7087ft Descent
Distance: 7.5mi
Time: 4-6h
Terrain: Rainforest
Overnight Location: Hotel in Moshi

Planning Your Kilimanjaro Summit Journey

A successful summit of Mount Kilimanjaro will take more than simply choosing which route you want to complete and booking your flight. The first step should be to look into government regulations or guidelines when traveling to Tanzania, so be sure to check out the Tanzanian Embassy, Center for Disease Control, or the equivalent official source from your own country to learn more.

After that, you can continue on with your research to learn how hard it actually is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and other logistical aspects to such a journey, such as the best time of year to make a summit attempt, what you will need to pack, and how best to prepare yourself.

Overall, the entire experience of planning and executing a Mount Kilimanjaro adventure can be a bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you take all of the proper steps and do your research. Being prepared is half the battle, and doing so properly will drastically increase your chances of actually reaching the top of the highest peak in Africa.