NORTHERN ROUTE KILIMANJARO (GRAND TRAVERSE)


The Northern Circuit Route is the newest route to open on Kilimanjaro and is essentially a modified clone of parts of Shira and Rongai routes with a traverse to connect them. This route has also been called the 360 and Grand Traverse by some companies.

The route has a very long approach to the mountain but like  Shira, starts off at a high altitude, making acllimitisation more difficult initially. However, it then remains at a relatively stable altitude for two days before ascending to Kibo Huts. The route is done over 8-9 days.

The route approaches Kilimanjaro from the western side after a long drive of about 3 hours from Moshi. Then, as with Shira route, your are driven to quite high on Shira Plateau for the start of the trek, thereby completely missing the forest section. From Shira plateau, you climb in an easterly direction to Moir's camp nestled behind a ridge near the famous Lava the route. It then heads around the northern approach route via Pofu camp to join up with the Rongai route at third caves. You then ascend to Kibo Huts, joining the Marangu route and leading to summit via Gilmans. After summit, descent is made via the Machame route

 

Overview

Day-1: Meet at Kilimanjaro International Airport

Day-2: Morum Barrier Gate (3,600 m.) - Shira Camp I (3,720m)

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

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

Day-5: Pofu Camp (4,150m) - Third Caves (3600m)

Day-6: Third Caves (3600m) - Outward Bound Hut (4750m)

Day-7: Third Caves (3600m - Kibo Huts (4,700m)

Day-8: Kibo Huts (4,700m) - Uhuru Peak (5,895m) - Mweka Camp (3,100m)

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

Day-10: Depart

Fast Facts

Altitude: 5895m

All year

Best weather: June to October. Kilimanjaro is equatorial which means minimal variation between the seasons.  However, there are two rainy seasons in Tanzania, the first is from March to May (short rains) and November to December (longer rains) which can make the forest track very muddy and of course, snow and/or rain higher up.

Tour: From 8 days

Hotels, Tents

Trek Grade: 2c (FP)

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  to 6000m. Good cardio vascular fitness is needed with weight and circuit training and running. Lots of hill walking. Backpacks will weigh about 4-5kg and contain water, camera and essentials. Trek weight loss around about 4kg. Fully Portered

Detailed Itinerary

Day-1: Arrive Kilimanjaro International Airport

Day-2: Morum Barrier Gate (3,600 m) - Shira Camp I (3,720m)

Elevation: 3600 metres to 3720 metres
Distance: 5 kilometres
Trek time: 3 to 4 hours
Habitat: Moorland
Departure from Moshi will be at around 7:30am for Londorossi gate, about 4 hours away, to complete entry formalities. We will then start the climb up to Morum Barrier Gate about an hour away. Once there, we will enjoy lunch before hiking 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: 3810 metres to 4200 metres
Distance: 14 kilometres
Trek time: 6 to 7 hours
Landscape: Semi-desert.
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 trek away from the main tourist trails as we hike around the flanks of Kibo volcano. 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) - Pofu Camp (4,150m)

Elevation: 4200 metres to 4020 metres
Distance: 12 kilometres
Trek time: 7 to 8 hours
Habitat: Semi-desert
Today we start out across the moorland and hike through stark alpine desert trekking up a ridge 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 Pofu Camp (4150m). the views across the vast Kenyan plains that stretch out far below are incredible. The total trekking time is about 5 - 7 hours.

Day-5: Pofu Camp (4,150m) - Third Caves (3600m)

Elevation: 4020 metres to 3960 metres
Distance: 7 kilometres
Trek time: Around 6 hours
Environment/Landscape: Semi-desert
From Pofu Camp we climb up 'buffalo Ridge's 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) . Approx 5 hours walking.

Day-6: Third Caves (3600m)  - Outward Bound Hut (4750m)

Elevation: 3960 metres to 4790 metres  back to 3960 metres
Distance: 6 kilometres
Trek time: Around 5 hours
Environment: 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 a lunar alpine desert. Today is an acclimatisation trek to Outward Bound Hut at 4750 and back down to Third Caves.

Day-7: Third Caves (3600m - Kibo Huts (4,700m)

Elevation: 3960 metres to 4700 metres
Distance: 5 kilometres
Trek time: 5 hours
Habitat: Stone scree, ice-capped peak and moorland
The trekking time today is 5hrs, with a steady climb to Outward Bound. We choose not to summit from Outward Bound as it makes your summit night longer. Instead, we continue past the route towards outward bound and take you to Kibo Huts at 4700m. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent, which begins around midnight.

Day-8: Kibo Huts (4,700m) - Uhuru Peak (5,895m)  - Mweka Camp (3,100m)

Elevation: 4790 metres to 3100 metres Highest point: 5895 metres (Uhuru Peak)
Distance: 19 kilometres (6 kilometre ascent / 13 kilometre descent)
Trek time: 13-16 hours (6-7 hours ascent / 7-8 hours descent)
Environment: Stone scree, ice-capped peak and moorland
A midnight wake-up call is the start of a long trek. You begin trekking at 11h30pm up the winding path of endless switchbacks. From your camp to Gilman'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 Kibo Crater rim by sunrise. The slope is steep, with switchbacks over loose rock and scree with some boulders as you near Gilman's Point. Once you arrive at Gilman's Point at the edge of the crater, the summit climb is less demanding, and is reached after a further 1.5-2 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 descend down through Barafu Camp before trekking down towards Mweka hut (3100m).  The camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected towards late afternoon.

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

Elevation: 3100 metres to 1800 metres
Distance: 8 kilometres
Trek time: 3 to 4 hours
Environment: Montane forest Today is a short 3-hour scenic hike. At Mweka gate you sign your name and details in a register in order to receive you Machame summit certificates. Those climbers made Stella Point (5685m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895m) receive gold certificates for your Northern Circuit Route climb on Kilimanjaro.

Day-10: Depart

Today you are transferred to Kilimanjaro airport for your flight home.

End of services

What's Included

Price includes


Return Kilimanjaro airport transfers
Three meals a day on trek except for last day of trek
All park entry fees
All porter, guide and cook fees
Kilimanjaro emergency rescue fees
Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit Route Park permit
Camping fees for the Northern Circuit Route
Tents on Mt Kilimanjaro
Dining tent, chairs, utensils etc.
Sleeping mattresses for Mt Kilimanjaro
Two night's bed and breakfast at Moshi Springlands Hotel twinshare

Price Excludes


Mandatory travel and medical insurance
Tips, baggage and porterage
Laundry
Bottled water
Meals other than those indicated
Visa's and vaccinations
International flights
Costs for giving up the expedition (no refunds applicable)
Costs incurred for returning to the hotel earlier than expected (From $70 per night)
Extra transfer across to Londorrosi Gate

Pros and Cons

 As you start at a higher elevation the risk of altitude sickness is high, unless you have pre-acclimatised
on a another trek

 Longer drive around to the start guide which means a higher cost with the transfer

 Very quiet seldom used route for the first few days

 Chance to see Buffalo if you are lucky

Suggestions

 Do a pre-acclimitasation trek before the climb

Route Profile Map

Kilimanjaro Northern Route Profile Map 8 days
Northern Route query

Book your Northern Route Climb
Overview of other routes
 6 - 7 days trekking
 40 minutes drive to Machame Gate
 Scenic but steep
 Good for acclimatisation
 Starts in forest and joins Lemosho and Shira routes
 Summit via Barafu Hut and Stella Point
 Sleep in Tents
 Descend via Mweka Route
Machame Route
 6 - 7 days trekking
  3 hour drive to Park Gate
  Scenic and quiet
  Good for acclimatisation
  Starts in forest and joins Lemosho and Machame routes
  Summit via Barafu Hut and Stella Point
  Sleep in Tents
  Descend via Mweka Route
Shira Route
 6 - 7 days trekking
  4 hours of driving to Park Gate
  Very quiet
  Need to add a day for acclimatisation
  Starts near Kenyan Border
  Route joins Marangu Route
  Summit via Kibo Hut and Gilman's Point
  Sleep in Tents
  Descend via Marangu Route
Rongai Route
 5 - 6 days trekking
  30 minutes road to Marangu Gate
  Busy route
  Less scenic - same ascent and descent
  Need a further day to acclimitise
  Route joins Northern Circuit and Rongai Route
  Summit via Kibo Hut and Gilman's Point
  Sleep in Huts
  Descend via Marangu Route
Marangu Route
 7 - 8 days trekking
 3 hour drive to Park Gate
 Scenic, quiet, longer approach
 Good for acclimatisation
 Starts in forest and joins Machame and Shira routes
 Summit via Barafu Hut and Stella Point
 Sleep in Tents
 Descend via Mweka Route
Lemosho Route
 5-7 days trekking
  40 Minute drive to Umbwe Gate
  Very Quiet
  Very steep and fast approach
  Poor chances for acclimatisation
  Route joins Shira, Lemosho and Machame Routes
  Summit via Kibo Hut and Gilman's Point
  Sleep in Tents
  Descend via Mweka Route
Umbwe Route
 Kilimanjaro Short Treks
These treks are designed for people with less time available or who do not want to go for summit. They range from 1 to 4 days on the mountain
Kilimanjaro Short Treks
 Mt Meru
Mt Meru is a great pre-acclimatisation trek before Kilimanjaro or a stand alone trek. These treks are 3-4 days
Mt Meru page

There are several options to tag on a safari tour in either Tanzania or Kenya after your Kilimanjaro trek. The shortest safari is 3 days up to around 9 or longer if you prefer.
Safari Tours


Frequently Asked Questions