Northern Circuit

Northern Circuit Route Kilimanjaro

The Northern Circuit Route is the newest route to open on Kilimanjaro. It is sometimes referred to as the Grand Traverse, or the Route 360. It starts out from the Shira park entry and then heads towards Shira II but instead of heading around towards Lava Tower, it detours around to the Kenyan side of the mountain.

It is a very quiet and non-touristic route until it eventually joins in with the Rongai Route for part of the way. The ascent is up via Gilman's point from Kibo Huts. From the summit, instead of backtracking down the same way, however, it heads down via Barafu Huts and Mweka Camp.

Northern Circuit Route Overview

Day-1: Arrive

Day-2: Morum Barrier Gate (3,768 m.) Shira Camp I (3,720m)

Day-3: Shira Camp I (3,720m) - Moir Camp (4,205m)

Day-4: Moir Camp (4,205m) - Buffalo Camp (4,150m)

Day-5: Buffalo Camp (4,150m) - Kikelewa Caves (3600m)

Day-6: Kikelewa Cave (3600m) - Mawenzi Tarn camp (4330m)

Day-7: Mawenzi Tarn camp (4330m) - Outward Bound Camp (4,750m)

Day-8: Outward Bound Camp (4,750m) - Uhuru Peak (5,895m)  - Mweka Camp (3,100m)

Day-9: Mweka camp (3100m)- Mweka Gate (1980m)

Day-10: Depart

Northern Circuit Route Detailed Itinerary

Day-1: Arrive Kilimanjaro International Airport and transfer to hotel. Overnight hotel.

Day-2: Morum Barrier Gate(3,768 m.) Shira Camp I (3,720m)
Departure from Moshi will be at around 7:30am for Londorossi gate, about 4 hours away, where you will complete entry formalities. We will then start the hike up to Morum Barrier Gate about an hour away. Once there, we will enjoy lunch and then hike up through the shrub land and moorland to reach the first camp, about 2 hour away. The view of Kibo from across the plateau is stunning.

Day-3: Shira Camp I (3,720m) - Moir Camp (4,205m)
Today we trek across the Shira plateau in an easterly direction to Moir's camp. Shira plateau is the remains of a once volcanic crater, which after Kibo's last eruption was filled with volcanic lava. We head away from the main tourist trails as we head around the flanks of Kibo. The trek is about 4-5 hours over easy terrain. Moir camp is an isolated and seldom used camp affording views over the Shira Plateau.

Day-4: Moir Camp (4,205m) - Buffalo Camp (4,150m)
Today we head out across the moorland and into the stark alpine desert heading up a ridge , on off the main trail along the quite and seldom used Northern Circuit Route. The trail heads across massive beds of shale. The final section of today's walk is undulating until we reach the location of Buffalo Camp (4150m). the views across the vast Kenyan plains that stretch out far below re incredible. The total trekking time is about 5 - 7 hours.

Day-5: -Buffalo Camp (4,150m) - Kikelewa Caves (3600m)
From Buffalo Camp we climb up to the top of 'Buffalo Ridge' and the descend to reach Pofu, where there is a small spring and some vegetation. The trail continues eastwards through a landscape that has increasingly sparse vegetation to eventually reach Third Cave Camp (3600m) or Kikelewa, at 3900m. Approx 5-7 hours walking.

Day-6: Kikelewa Cave (3600m) - Mawenzi Tarn camp (4330m)

Today we will find ourselves joining with the Rongai route. It is a short but steep climb up grassy slopes offering superb views of this wilderness area. Here, we will leave the moorland region behind and quickly enter into the lunar alpine desert stretched out between the imposing peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo. We will camp at Mawenzi Tarn spectacularly situated in the shadows of Mawenzi.

Day-7 : Mawenzi Tarn camp (4330m) - Outward Bound Camp (4,750m)
The trekking time today is 5 - 7 hours, with a steady ascent across the wide saddle with it stark contrasts, between Mawenzi and Kibo. We will then ascend further up to Outward Bound Camp or School hut. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent, which begins around midnight.

Day-8: Outward Bound Camp (4,750m) - Uhuru Peak (5,895m) - Mweka Camp (3,100m)
A midnight wake-up call is the start of a long trek. You begin trekking at 1am up the winding path of endless switchbacks. From your camp to the rim of the crater (Gillman's Point (5,712 m) to Uhuru Peak, the trekking time is about 7 - 8 hours. Today is by far the steepest and most demanding part of the climb so that we can be up on the Crater rim by sunrise. The slope is steep, with switchbacks over loose rock and scree with some boulders as you near Gilman's Point.

You will stop at Hans Meyer cave on the way, the famous place where Kilimanjaro's first western climber described in his journals. Once you arrive at Gilman's Point at the edge of the crater, the trail to the summit is less demanding, and is reached after a further 1½-2 hours along the snowy crater rim. After a short time at the summit, re-trace your steps back along the crater rim to Stella Point and then descend down through Barafu Camp where you will have a chance to rest before heading down towards Mweka hut (3100m).The camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon.

Day-9: Mweka camp (3100m)- Mweka Gate (1980m):
After an early and well-deserved breakfast, it is a short 3-hour scenic hike back to the Park gate. It is recommended not to pay your porters any tips until you and all your gear have reached the gate safely. At Mweka gate you will have to sign your name and details in a register in order to receive you summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Stella Point (5685m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895m) receive gold certificates. From the Mweka Gate you will continue down into the Mweka village, normally a muddy 3 km (1 hour) hike. In the Mweka village you will meet up with your team and bus, and head back to the hotel a long over due hot shower.

Day-10: Depart

After breakfast, transfer to Kilimanjaro airport for your departure flight home.

End of services
Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit

Kilimanjaro Full Moon Dates

2016 Full Moon 2017 Full Moon 2018 Full Moon
January 24 12 2, 31
February 22 11 2
March 23 12 31
April 22 11 30
May 21 10 29
June 20 9 28
July 20 9 27
August 18 7 26
September 16 6 25
October 16 5 24
November 14 4 23
December 14 4 22
Northern Circuit Route up Kilimanjaro

Duration 10 Days
Best time Jan - Feb, June to October
Sleeping Tents

Kilimanjaro Frequently asked questions

Full Moon Dates

Trek Grade: 2CF
A combination of very long days with steep paths, boulders and mountain scrambling. Glaciers and snow may be encountered at high altitude. There is no need for technical climbing experience. Medium risk of altitude sickness. Altitudes up to 6000m. Good cardio vascular fitness is needed with weight and circuit training and running. Lots of hill walking. Backpacks will weight about 4-5kg and contain water, camera and essentials. Trek weight loss in the region of 4kg. Fully Portered

Kilimanjaro Video

Northern Circuit Kilimanjaro

Dates and Costs

The Grand Traverse or Northern Circuit is not a common or popular route and as such, all treks are arranged on a private basis.

Prices vary based on the number of people and days, from $2606.00 to $2182.00 per person sharing

For current prices

Northern Circuit Grand traverse Route Kilimanjaro

Price includes
Transfers from the airport to hotel and return
All park fees
The climb
All meals on the mountain
Sleeping Tents
Eating utensils
Two nights accommodation in Moshi on a bed and breakfast, twin / triple share basis.

Prices excludes
International flights
Required airport taxes
Porters tips
Items of clothing, sleeping bags and miscellaneous drinks, etc.

Ratio of porters per climber: 4/5 to 1

Other Tours that may interest you