MOUNT KILIMANJARO

Northern Circuit Route /Grand Traverse to the Roof of Africa

Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit Route

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.


KILIMANJARO NORTHERN CIRCUIT 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 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)

Hiking: 2 hours
Distance: About 4 Km
Habitat: Rain forest
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)

Elevation: 2835 metres - 3850 metres
Distance: 9 km
Trek time: 5 to 6 hours
Environment: Moorland
Today we trek across the Shira plateau in an easterly direction to Moir 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)

Hiking: 5-7 hours
Habitat: Moorlands
Distance: 10 km's
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) (also known as Pofu) - Kikelewa Caves (3600m)


Elevation: 4,150m to 3,600m
Hiking time: 5hours
Habitat: Alpine desert
Distance: 8 km's
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)

Elevation: 3,600m to 4,330m
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert
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)

Elevation: 4,330m to 4,750m
Hiking time: 5-7 hours Distance: 8 km Habitat: Alpine desert 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)

Elevation: 4,750m to 5,895m to 3,100m
Distance: 24 km/14 miles
Hiking Time: 10-15 hours
Habitat: Alpine Arctic to Heath Zone
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

 

Northern Circuit Route Variations

Alternate 10 days Alternate 10 days

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 - Kikelewa Caves (3600m)

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

Day-7: Mawenzi Tarn camp (4330m) - Kibo Huts (4,700m)

Day-8: Kibo - Uhuru Peak - Mweka Camp (3,100m)

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

Day-10: Depart

 

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(3600m) - Outward Bound Camp (4,750m) - Kikelewa

Day-7: Kikelewa - Kibo Huts (4,700m)

Day-8: Kibo (4,700m) (4,700m) - Uhuru Peak  - Mweka Camp (3,100m)

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

Day-10: Depart

 

Your Questions Answered

Like the Shira route, it starts at a higher altitude. However, from Shira the altitude gain each day is much lower than on other routes and the gradient very gentle until your reach Kikelewa or Third Caves camp. It is also done over a longer period of time than other Kilimanjaro routes. It is for these reasons that it is one of the few routes that does not need extra acclimatization days added.
Not at all. It has very few people on the route because it is done over a longer period and therefore more costly.
The Grand Traverse/360 or Northern approach is about 79 km / 50 miles from gate to gate
There are two distinct trekking seasons during which is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro. They are January-March and June-October. January-March is generally colder than June-October and there is a higher probability of encountering snow on the summit. However, because the northern side of the mountain gets a lot less rain the route can be done in the rainy season.
Kilimanjaro is just three degrees south of the equator, so the lower slopes are generally hot and dry reaching 25°C during the day. This quickly drops with each ecological zone as you move from open heath lands to alpine desert and then, to the summit. Temperatures at Uhuru Peak are between -7 to -29°C.
Every night stop has an area with drop/toilet facilities, that are designated areas to allow for camping. You will sleep in tents. The camp areas are a lot more quiet with more rudimentary toilet structures than on other routes until you join the route at Kibo.
The toilets that are available on the mountain are pretty rudimentary unless you are on Marangu, and are really just a wooden or block building with a hole in the ground (or a 'long drop'). One option though it adds to the cost is to hire a portable toilet. Finally, although there may not be toilet facilities when you really need them during the days trek, we ask that you seek out a 'loo with a view' away from the path, and keep your used paper in a small bag to dispose of later at camp so as to preserve the environment.
Altitude sickness, also called mountain sickness, is a group of general symptoms that are brought on by climbing or walking to a higher and higher altitude (elevation) too quickly. High altitude is defined as 8,000 - 12,000 feet (2400 - 2600m) above sea level. Altitude sickness can affect anyone who goes to high altitudes without giving the body time to adjust to the changes in air pressure and oxygen level. Symptoms usually come on within 12 to 24 hours of reaching a higher elevation and then get better within 24 to 48 hours as your body adjusts to the change in altitude. Because Kilimanjaro has a rapid ascent profile, altitude sickness tends to be more common than on some other treks. It is for this reason that taking your time is vitally important and why shorter routes have a lower success rate. Because Northern Route has a higher starting altitude it does have a risk of altitude sickness early on. on a another trek like Mt Meru
Month 2019 2020 2021
January - 10 28
February - 9 27
March - 9 28
April - 8 27
May - 7 26
June - 5 24
July 17 5 24
August 15 3 22
September 14 2 21
October 14 1, 31 20
November 12 30 19
December 12 30 19

Very definitely yes. Porters and guides are the life blood of any successful mountain climb. Through our partners in Tanzania we support various charity initiatives including the most important Kilimanjaro Porters Society. This society was registered under the name Mount Kilimanjaro Porters Society on 30th September 2005 as a non governmental organization with a certificate no 13296 under the organization art of the United Republic of Tanzania. The society exists as a shield for porters who are registered under it with the goal of improving the living and working condition of these porters.

Northern Route at a Glance