NORTHERN ROUTE KILIMANJARO (GRAND TRAVERSE)

Northern Circuit Route is the newest route to open on Kilimanjaro and is 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 Camp. 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, joining Marangu route and leading to summit via Kibo. 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 (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

It is 5895m or 19,341 ft above sea level.
The Northern approach is quite a long route. It is in fact a combination of Shira and Rongai and Mweka. Because of its length, it is done over 8 days
The Grand Traverse/360 or Northern approach is about 79 km / 50 miles from gate to gate
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.
Yes very!. First of all it stats at a much higher altitude than the other routes so not advisable if you do not acclimitise well. The first few days are relatively easy going until you join up with Rongai. Summit is then via Kibo and Gilmans Point, and descent is via the Mweka route. It is also the quietest route.
As with most other routes, accommodation is in tents.
There are several streams on the trail and porters will collect water from them. The cook then boils this water for you to fill you water bottles for your days hike. You can also use purifier tablets in stream water or add it to your boiled water however it can also have an effect on the diamox and make you feel nauseous. The higher you climb the less water there is is. On the Northern trail, the last water point is Karanga Valley, below the lunch-stop before Barafu. For this reason it is essential that you carry enough bottles for at least two litres.

Yes you do. We (Nomadic Adventures) do not allow anyone to climb with us unless they have adequate travel insurance. Adequate, means you must be covered for

1) trekking or hiking - this may sound strange, but many insurance list that as an exclusion.

2) altitude up to 6,000 meters. Most travel insurance providers do not include this under their standard option and often limit it to 3500m or less.

3) Sprains strains and physiotherapy - yes, many insurers exclude this, though ironically, this is what you will most likely need cover for.

4) personal accident - this is the horrible part of insurance. Yes, you need to be covered in the case of death. We are often told by clients - "if anything happens to me, just leave me there." Bodies need to be brought home or laid to rest overseas, and this can run into thousands of dollars, creating a huge burden on family members.

We will assist in helping you provide good cover. If you need cover or simply a quote, follow the details herewith:. Once you have done your initial quote, you will need to upgrade your cover to include altitudes up to 6000m. Towards the bottom of the page you will see a section called, Options: Upgrade your cover. Click the link called 'View Adventure Sports Benefits'. A blue pop up screen will open. Look for the level of cover required for 'trekking to 6,000 meters' or 'hiking to 6,000 meters'. Depending on your country it is usually a level 1 or 2. Note: we are not insurance experts and it's your responsibility
to ensure you have correct and adequate cover. If you live in South Africa, we have other cover options

A link to Mount Kilimanjaro National Park website

Kilimanjaro National Park - UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Acute mountain sickness: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

Detailed Itinerary

Day-1: Meet at Kilimanjaro International Airport and transfer to hotel.

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

Hiking: 2 hours
Distance: About 4 km's
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 drive another 10 minutes up the road where the vehicle will drop you and team off. You will then have lunch and enjoy a short hike to Shira I at 3720m, about 2 hours away. Another option on this day is to go straight to Shira II at 3,840m making it a 4 hour trek and shorter day on day 3.

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
You leave Machame camp and climb quite steeply for about an hour. The route then follows a more gentle gradient toward the base Shira Plateau which is actually a the remains of a caldera, or collapsed volcanic crater. Then you traverse up the rocky outcrop before trekking in an easterly direction, to Shira Camp, Shira being one of the three volcanoes of the Kilimanjaro massif.

Day-4: Moir Camp (4,205m) - Pofu 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 off the main trail along the quite and seldom used Northern Circuit Route. The trail heads across massive beds of shale through many valleys, almost 10 in total. . 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.

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

Hiking time: 5hours
Habitat: Alpine desert
Distance: 8 km's
From Pofu Camp we climb up to the top of 'Buffalo Ridge' and the descend to reach 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) which is on the Rongai Circuit. Approx 5 hours walking.

Day-6: Third Caves (3600m) – Outward Bound (4740m)

Hiking time: 4-6 hours
Distance: 8 km's
Habitat: Alpine desert
Today we will find ourselves joining with Rongai. The options on this day is to trek towards Mwenzi Tarn or Outward Bound, but Outward Bound offers greater acclimatisation chances. The route will take us along the Rongai trail towards Kibo camp, before deviating off to the right to Outward Bound Hut. Will enjoy a packed lunch and then return to Third Caves for the night.

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

Hiking time: 4 hours
Distance: 5-6km's
Habitat: Alpine desert
The trekking time today is 5 - 7 hours, with a steady ascent back along the same trail as yesterday, passing the route to Outward Bound. We will continue up a steadily inclining slope through areas of rock until we eventually reach Kibo Huts.

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

Hiking for: 6-8 hours to reach Uhuru Peak
6-8 hours to descend to Mweka
Distance: About 7 km's ascent - 23 km's descent
Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit
An 11pm wake-up call is the start of a long trek. You begin trekking at 11.h30am up the winding path of endless switchbacks. Your final pull up to Gilmans point is the hardest part as you ascend over rocky terrain and scree slopes. 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. 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 1˝-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-8: Mweka camp (3100m)- Mweka Gate (1980m)

Hiking duration: 2-4 hours
Distance: About 15 km's
Habitat: Forest 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 silver 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.


End of services

What's Included

Price includes

Return Kilimanjaro airport transfers
Three meals a day while on trek except for last day of trek
All park entry fees
All porter, guide and cook fees
Kilimanjaro emergency rescue fees
Lemosho Route Kilimanjaro Park permit for 8 days
Camping fees for the Lemosho 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)
Additional transfer across to Shira Gate

Pros and Cons

As you start at a higher elevation the altitude sickness risk 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

Stunning views across Shira Plateau and the Shira Needle

Suggestions

Add on a day at Moir Hut if you are not pre-acclimatised

Tag on another day at Karanga Camp if you want a longer slower ascent

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
Summit via Barafu Hut and Stella Point
Sleep in Tents
Descend via Mweka
Machame Route Itinerary
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
Lemosho Itinerary
6 - 7 days trekking
4 hours of driving to Park Gate
Very quiet
Need an extra day for acclimatisation
Starts near Kenyan Border
Route joins Marangu
Summit via Kibo Hut and Gilman's Point
Sleep in Tents
Descend via Marangu Route
Rongai Route Itinerary
5 - 6 days trekking
30 minutes road to Marangu Gate
Busy route
Less scenic - same ascent and descent
Need an extra 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 Itinerary
8-9 days trekking
4 Hour drive to Shira Gate
Very Quiet
Less scenic but longer approach
Start higher but route is good for acclimatisation
Route joins Rongai and Marangu Routes
Summit via Kibo Hut and Gilman's Point
Sleep in Tents
Descend via Marangu Route
Northern Circuit 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
Summit via Kibo Hut and Gilman's Point
Sleep in Tents
Descend via Mweka
Umbwe Route Itinerary
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 Kilimanjaro
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 Itinerary

There are several options to add 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