10 Days Northern Crater Route

Route Description

The Northern Circuit route is one of the best routes on Kilimanjaro, offering nearly 360 degrees of beautiful scenery including the quiet, rarely visited northern slopes. As the longest route on Kilimanjaro, the Northern Circuit also has the most acclimatization time and the highest summit success rate. Thus, the Northern Circuit route is highly recommended.

The route approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the west, beginning with a long drive from Moshi to Londorossi Gate. From there, the first two days are spent trekking through the rainforest to Shira Ridge, before crossing the Shira Plateau. The route then heads north and circles clockwise from Moir Hut to Buffalo Camp to School Hut, before summiting from the east. Descend is made via the Mweka route.


    DAY 1

    Arrival Kilimanjaro airport and drive to Moshi Or Arusha and overnight in the Hotel or Lodge.

    DAY 2

    • Londorossi Gate to MtiMkubwa
    • Elevation: 2360m to 2895m  (ft) 7,742 ft to 9,498 ft
    • Distance: 6 km/4 miles
    • Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
    • Habitat: Rain Forest

    We depart Moshi for Londorossi Gate, which takes about 4 hours, where you will complete entry formalities. Then drive to the Lemosho trailhead. Upon arrival at trailhead, we begin hiking through undisturbed forest which winds to the first camp site.

    DAY 3

    • MtiMkubwa to Shira 1 Camp
    • Elevation: 2895m to 3505m (ft) 9,498 ft to 11,500 ft
    • Distance: 8 km/5 miles
    • Hiking Time 5-6 hours
    • Habitat: Heath

    We continue on the trail leading out of the rain forest and into a savannah of tall grasses, heather and volcanic rock draped with lichen beards. As we ascend through the lush rolling hills and cross several streams, we reach the Shira Ridge before dropping gently down to Shira 1 Camp. Here we catch our first glimpse of Kibo across the plateau.

    DAY 4

    • Shira 1 Camp to Shira 2 Camp
    • Elevation: 3505m to 3920m  (ft) 11,500 ft to 12,500 ft
    • Distance: 7 km/4 miles
    • Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
    • Habitat: Heath

    We explore the Shira Plateau. It is a gentle walk east on moorland meadows towards Shira 2 Camp. The heath zone displays abundant wildflowers and unique Senecio trees.

    DAY 5

    • Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower
    • Elevation: 3920m to 4630m (ft) 12,500 ft to 15,190 ft
    • Distance: 7 km/4 miles
    • Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
    • Habitat: Alpine Desert
    • Lava Tower to Moir Hut
    • Elevation:  4630m to 4200m  (ft) 15,190 ft to 13,580 ft
    • Distance: 7 km/4 miles
    • Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
    • Habitat: Alpine Desert

    We continue to the east up a ridge and then head southeast towards the Lava Tower – a 300 ft tall volcanic rock formation. Then we divert from the main trail to Moir Hut, a little used site on the base of Lent Hills. A variety of walks are available on Lent Hills making this an excellent acclimatization opportunity. Shira Plateau is one of the highest plateaus on earth.

    DAY 6

    • Moir Hut to Buffalo Camp
    • Elevation:  4200m to 4020m  (ft) 13,580 ft to 13,200 ft
    • Distance: 12 km/7 miles
    • Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
    • Habitat: Alpine Desert

    We trek out of Moir Valley with a moderately steep climb, then hike to the summit of Lent Hills before returning to the main trail. The path crosses a rock field and gently undulates before reaching Buffalo Camp. This section of the trail offers great views across the plains that lie north of Kilimanjaro and stretch out to the Kenyan/Tanzanian border.

    DAY 7

    • Buffalo Camp to Third Cave
    • Elevation: 4020m to 3870m  (ft) 13,200 ft to 12,700 ft
    • Distance: 8 km/5 miles
    • Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
    • Habitat: Heath

    As we head up Buffalo Ridge, the terrain becomes increasingly sparse.  This route is rarely travelled and we will enjoy its mountain wilderness feel. We trek through remote valleys on to the northern slopes of Kilimanjaro until we arrive at Third Cave.

    DAY 8

    • Third Cave to School Hut
    • Elevation:  3870m to 4750m  (ft) 12,700 ft to 15,600 ft
    • Distance: 5 km/3 miles
    • Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
    • Habitat: Alpine Desert

    We climb steadily up and over the “Saddle,” which sits between Kibo and Mawenzi. We continue on to our camp, School Hut. Once here we rest, enjoy dinner and prepare for the summit day.

    DAY 9

    • School Hut to Uhuru Peak
    • Elevation: 4750 to 5895m  (ft) 15,600 ft to 19,341 ft
    • Distance: 6 km/4 miles
    • Hiking Time: 6-8 hours
    • Habitat: Arctic
    • Uhuru Peak to Crater Camp
    • Elevation:  5895m to 5730m  (ft) 19,341 ft to 18,865 ft
    • Distance: 1 km/.6 miles
    • Hiking Time: 0.5-1 hours
    • Habitat: Artic

    During normal morning hours, we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. We ascend for several hours at a slow but steady pace while taking frequent, but short, breaks. The trail turns into heavy scree as we make the steep climb to the crater rim. At Gilman’s Point (18,600 ft), we see the summit sign in the distance. We continue the around the crater rim until finally we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

    We then descend a short distance to Crater Camp, where the rest of the staff will join us to set up camp. There is an option to hike to Reutsch Crater and the ash pit, or simply explore the areas around Furtwangler Glacier. Sleeping at this high altitude can be dangerous. Serious AMS can develop if adequate altitude acclimatization has not been achieved so the guides will monitor you very closely.

    DAY 10

    • Crater Camp to Mweka Camp
    • Elevation:  5730m to 3060m  (ft) 18,865 ft to 10,065 ft
    • Distance: 12 km/7 miles
    • Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
    • Habitat: Artic

    From Crater Camp, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

    DAY 11

    • Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate 
    • Elevation: 3060m to 1640m  (ft) 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft
    • Distance: 10 km/6 miles
    • Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
    • Habitat: Rain Forest

    On our last day, we continue the descent to Mweka Gate and collect the summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. From the gate A vehicle will meet us and drive  back to the hotel in Moshi or Arusha.

    DAY 12

    Drive to Kilimanjaro airport and fly back home.

    Items included:

    • Meeting at Kilimanjaro International Airport;
    • Transfer to the hotel  to Moshi or Arusha
    • Accommodation prior to the climb (including breakfast; sharing a twin room);
    • Transfer to the starting point.
    • Professional mountain crew. All guides have “Wilderness First Responder” and “Wilderness First Aid” certificates, along with over 10 years of experience in climbing. Each participant will be provided with a porter (who can carry up to 15 kg of personal baggage)
    • Kilimanjaro National Park rescue fees;
    • Camping/hut fees;
    • 3 square meals daily. The menu includes different soups, garnishes, several types of fish and meat, fresh fruit and vegetables; vegetarian options are available upon request;
    • Oxygen systems and pulse oximeters;
    • First aid kit;
    • Group equipment (dining tent, table, chairs, crockery and cutlery);
    • Meeting the group at the National Park exit and transfer to the hotel;
    • Accommodation after the climb (including breakfast; sharing a twin room);
    • Comfortable sleeping pads.
    • Return transfer to Kilimanjaro airport.

    * Basic tour package price includes sharing a twin room. If you need a single bed accommodation only, you should inform us before the tour.

    ** During the climb you will share a tent with 1-2 other climbers, depending on the number of participants. If you need an individual tent, please, contact us. Single accommodation at sleeping huts on Marangu is impossible.

    Items excluded:

    • Airline tickets;
    • Visa fee;
    • Lunch and dinner at the hotel
    • Personal gears
    • Tips for the mountain crew and Safari Driver.
    • Travel insurance.