Expert Tanzania travel guide and advice for safaris, beach, mountain climbing, cultural, historical experiences, and more. View safari prices, honeymoon tour booking, family vacation, solo travel packages, and more.

Follow Me
Image Alt
The alternative Lemosho Route

Northern Circuit Route

Northern Circuit Route

$2510 / per person
(0 Reviews)

The Northern Circuit Route is the longest route on Kilimanjaro, a nine-day trip initially ascending Lemosho route on the western side of the mountain up onto the Shira Plateau before reaching the Lava Tower, then heading north and circumnavigating the main summit massif in a clockwise direction and joining up with the Rongai route. The summit is then climbed from the eastern side of the mountain and the descent is straight down via the southern Mweka route.


Understandably this is also known as the Grand Traverse or the 360 Route and offers the complete Kilimanjaro experience in terms of all the habitats and the views of the mountain from all sides. The long journey has excellent acclimatization and stunning scenery with views across the southern flanks, western forests, the northern plains to the Kenyan border, and the arid eastern slopes. The paths are comparatively quiet and less used.


Also, the altitude gain each day is less than on other routes, with a gentle gradient until reaching Kikelewa or Third Caves camp, therefore over nine days, the likelihood of altitude sickness is significantly less. Yet the overall length of the route is 96 kilometers, not much more than the other routes. An alternate route that summits directly up the northern slopes from School Hut is about 79 kilometers.


Being more expensive, the Northern Circuit is the least visited but in many respects, it’s the best option for climbing Kilimanjaro without the crowds.

  • Destination
  • Departure
  • Departure Time
    Approximately 8.30AM
  • Return Time
    Approximately 7.30PM
  • Dress Code
    Casual, comfortable and light
  • Included
    Airport Pickup
    Airport Transfer
    Mountain Guide
    Park Fees
    Professional Guide
    Rescue fees
  • Not Included

Tour Plan



On your arrival, we will arrange for a driver to pick you up from the airport to your hotel. Usually, a day before starting an expedition, your guide will meet you at the hotel around 5:00 pm for a pre-climb briefing and gear check. Feel free to ask your guide any questions you have about your trip. Usually, breakfast is saved around 7:00 am at your hotel and your guide will pick you up from 7:30 am to 8:00 am. Please ensure that you have packed your bags before breakfast, have signed everything you don't need on the mountain to reception and your valuables to the hotel's safe that includes your passports, as provided that you only need photo copies for national parks formalities except for under 16s, their ORIGINAL PASSPORTS are needed. In the case of group members being in different hotels that time might change to later. Expect further warning for that.


4WD transfer to Londorossi Park Gate for registration. Our porters prepare and pack our supplies and luggage before we start our ascent along the forest trail to Mti Mkubwa (Big Tree) campsite at 2895m. We will stay here overnight.


Our journey continues eastwards across the Shira Plateau with spectacular views of Shira Cathedral. We cross the moorland meadow to succeed in Shira 1 Camp for dinner and overnight camping at 3500m.   By now we'll be ready to see the stunning glaciers of the Western Breach. It will be colder tonight than the previous night with temperatures possibly falling below freezing.


Distance: 9.4km/5.8 miles Altitude Gained: 657m/2155ft The trek from Shira 1 Camp to Moir Huts takes you across the moorland and, eventually desert of the Shira Plateau. Separating from the Official Lemosho Route, the path now aims more for the northern slopes of Kibo. On the way you pass Fischer Camp – an abandoned campsite named after a renowned mountaineer more famous for his exploits on Everest.   The scenery is fairly uniform through the views ahead to Kibo keep you reaching for your camera. You’ll probably also notice it getting considerably colder as the day wears on, and you may well find yourself wearing your summit coat for the first time.   You should arrive for a late lunch at Moir Huts. You can then rest and relax in this chilly campsite before, if you’re feeling OK, heading off for a sunset acclimatization trip to the top of the nearby 4402m/14,442ft ridgeline before dinner. The excursion distance is 1.9km/1.2 miles.


Distance: 9.2km/5.7 miles Altitude Lost: 122m/400ft As mentioned before, peace and solitude are the main characteristics of this path. In terms of acclimatization, you actually achieve the lofty altitude of 4402m/14,442ft today before falling to the Second Pofu Camp at 4033m/13,231ft. It won’t be unusual, therefore, for people to feel some symptoms of altitude sickness (often a headache) by the time they arrive at one of the three Pofu campsites. So do try to go pole pole and to drink lots to avoid this; and furthermore, don’t set off from Moir Huts if you’re feeling any symptoms of the altitude, as you are going to even more remote places.   The walk begins with perhaps the steepest climb of the day, a relentless slog up a barren slope to around 4402m/14,442ft. Cairns both mark the top of the ascent and the way forward, as you spend your day making your way around Kibo’s northern face, dropping down into the many north-south valleys before clambering back out of them. Though this can get a little monotonous, note how the character of each valley is different to its neighbors, with some decorated with everlastings, others blanketed in heathers, and still others virtually pure, lifeless desert.   Eventually, after three hours, you’ll come to the first of the Pofu Camps followed in short order by some boulders that you need to scramble over to reach the second (45 mins; 4033m/13,232ft) and most popular of the three possible Pofu campsites.   It has to be said that the three Pofu Camps are all fairly uncharismatic places, perched on chilly ridges between the valleys and with not a toilet between them (though some were being built when we were last there. It’s not an issue anyway, as of course, we provide private toilets for every group.) There’s not much to distract you so just sit and watch the mist roll in and see if you can spot the eland that is said to hang about in these parts (and after which the campsites are named).   If the skies are clear enough you should get a full-frontal view of Kibo, while Mawenzi peers coyly over your shoulder and the lights of Kenya twinkle in the far distance below.


We climb out of the Moir Valley and take a brief detour to succeed in the summit of Lent Hills (4700m).   After admiring the views we return to the trail and head eastwards around the Northern Circuit trail. The final section of today’s walk undulates until reaching the situation of Pofu Camp.


From Pofu Camp we cross numerous small valleys because the trail continues through a landscape that has increasingly sparse vegetation to eventually reach Third Cave Camp.


Today there is a gradual ascent to reach the Saddle, a lunar landscape between the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi.   From here we continue upwards and reach School Hut within the early afternoon. The remainder of the afternoon is spent resting and preparing for the summit day.


We start the attempt and most demanding part of the climb around 1 am on a switchback trail through loose volcanic scree to succeed in the crater rim at Gillman’s Point.   We rest here for a brief time to enjoy the spectacular sunrise over Mawenzi. We then head on to Uhuru Peak, passing on the brink of the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that also occupy most of the summit area.   We retrace our steps along the crater rim to Stella Point then descend down through Barafu Camp, where our porters will meet us with a packed lunch. We will then still descend to succeed in Millennium Camp.


Your final day on the trek. Departing after breakfast, we descend an additional 1300m to the Mweka Park Gate to select up your summit certificates from the Park Headquarters.   We will then transfer to your hotel for a well-earned shower and celebration.
  • All accommodations per itinerary
  • All meals per itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All tours and entrance fees per itinerary (unless listed as excluded)
  • All transportation and transfers per itinerary
  • National Park gate fees
  • Transport from Arusha or Moshi to trailhead and return to Arusha
  • Camping fees
  • Certified, experienced, English-speaking guides for all routes
  • Salaries for all crew members
  • Rescue fees (as required by the national park)
  • Tents, foam sleeping pads, cooking equipment, and eating utensils
  • Oximeters
  • Emergency Oxygen (2L canister)
  • International and domestic flights
  • Meals not listed
  • Beverages and alcohol
  • Tips for guides, drivers, hotel staff
  • Optional tours
  • Single room supplement
  • Personal expenses (visas, airport taxes, Internet, etc.)
  • Tipping guideline for guides, porters, and cooks (budget $350-550/person)
  • Low season discount in April/May

Subscribe Now and Quench Your Wanderlust!

You don't have permission to register