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Moshi, Kilimanjaro
East Africa
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Mt. Kilimanjaro VIA Northern Circuit Route with Crater Camp

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  • Northern Circuit Route with Crater Camp – 10 Days

Route Highlights

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Route Overview

The Northern Circuit is one the best routes on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, offering beautiful scenery including quiet and rare visited slopes. As it is the longest Kilimanjaro route, it has the most acclimatization time and so the highest summit success rate of approximately 98%. Thus, with all those parameters the Northern Circuit is the highly recommended route to do Kilimanjaro trekking.

However, the Northern Circuit route approaches Kilimanjaro Mountain from the west with a long drive from Moshi to National Park’s Londrose Gate. From Londrosi Gate the trekking takes two days through the rainforest to Shira Ridge before crossing Shira Plateaus, then heads to north and turnaround from Moir Hut to Buffalo Camp, before summiting from the east.  

After your summit you will overnight in the crater rim at 5730 metres. The Crater Camp is an almost untouched and unvisited wilderness, and is a fantastic option for climbers who are confident that they acclimatize well. The descent is through Mweka Gate.

Trekking Itinerary


Arrival in the Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO):

Your airport transfer driver will on time meet and greet you at the airport then transfers to the hotel in Moshi. After check in you will meet your climbing Guide for briefing and gears checking list.

DAY 1:

Londorossi Gate to Mti Mkubwa

Elevation: 7,742 ft to 9,498 ft

Hiking Time:  3-4 hours

Distance: 6 km | 4 miles

Habitat: Rain Forest

After early breakfast in the Moshi hotel and a day’s hike Guide briefing, you will be driving 3-4 hours to the Kilimanjaro national park’s Londorosi gate for entry registration formalities.  After registration and lunch pack you drive 45 minutes to the trailhead to commence your hiking through the rainforest to the Mti Mkubwa Camp.

DAY 2:

Mti Mkubwa to Shira 1 Camp

Elevation: 9,498 ft to 11,500 ft

Hiking Time: 5-6 hours

Distance: 8 km | 5 miles

Habitat: Health

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 3:

Shira 1 Camp to Shira 2 Camp

Elevation: 11,500 ft to 12,500 ft

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

Distance: 7 km | 4 miles

Habitat: Health

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 4:

Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower to Moir Hut

Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower

Elevation: 12,500 ft to 15,190 ft

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

Lava Tower to Moir Hut

Elevation: 15,190 ft to 13,580 ft

Hiking Time: 2-3 hours


Distance: 7 km | 4 miles

Habitat: Alpine Desert


Distance: 7 km | 4 miles

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 5:

Moir Hut to Buffalo Camp

Elevation: 13,580 ft to 13,200 ft

Hiking Time: 5-7 hours

Distance: 12 km | 7 miles

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 6:

Buffalo Camp to Third Cave

Elevation: 13,200 ft to 12,700 ft

Hiking Time: 5-7 hours

Distance: 8 km | 5 miles

Habitat: Health

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 7:

Third Cave to School Hut

Elevation: 12,700 ft to 15,600 ft

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours

Distance: 5 km | 3 miles

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 an early dinner to prepare for the summit day.

DAY 8:

School Hut Camp to Uhuru Peak to Crater Camp

School Hut to Uhuru Peak

Elevation: 15,600 ft to 19,341 ft

Hiking Time: 6-8 hours

Uhuru Peak to Crater Camp

Elevation: 19,341 ft to 18,865 ft

Hiking Time: 1 hour


Distance: 7 km | 4 miles

Habitat: Glacial and all preceding


Distance: 1 km | 0.6 miles

Habitat: Glacial and all preceding

We start the final and most demanding part of the climb around 7.00 am on a switchback trail through loose volcanic screen to reach the crater rim at Gillman’s Point. You rest here for a short time before you continue on to Uhuru Peak, passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. After celebrating with few summit photos we begin our descent into Kibo Crater to camp for the night.

DAY 9:

Crater Camp to Millennium Camp

Elevation: 18,865 ft to 10,065 ft

Hiking Time: 4-6 hours

Distance: 12 km | 7 miles

Habitat: Arctic

You wake up early to hike to the Crater Rim in time to see the sunrise. From the rim, you descend down to the Millennium campsite. Trekking poles will be needed for the loose gravel down to the Millennium Camp. Later in the evening, you will enjoy your dinner on the mountain and a well –earned sleep.

DAY 10:

Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate

Elevation: 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft

Hiking Time: 5-6 hours

Distance: 12 km | 7 miles

Habitat: Rain Forest

Your final day in the on the trek! Departing after breakfast, you descend a further 1,300 metres to the Mweka Park Gate to pick up your summit certificates from the Park Headquarters. From there you will transfer to your hotel for a well-earned shower and celebration.


Total Cost Covers:

  • Airport Transfers (to and from the Airport)
  • Clean, purified drinking water
  • All meals while on the Mountain
  • Rescue Fees and all taxes.
  • Sleeping Mats
  • Kilimanjaro entrance/conservation fees
  • Salaries for Porters, Cook, and Guides
  • Kilimanjaro Camping fees
  • Oxygen Tanks, Oximeter, & First Aid Kit
  • Quality Sleeping tents shared by 2 clients
  • Mess tents, Crew tents, Table, Chairs, eating utensils, cooking equipment.
  • Transfers from Hotel to Kilimanjaro entrance gate and from Kilimanjaro exit gate to the hotel

Cost does not Cover:

  • International and local airfare.
  • Yellow fever vaccinations
  • Passport, Visa, and Travelers Insurance
  • Personal expenses eg. Laundry, beverages, etc.
  • Tips for the support team
  • Bed, Sleeping Bag, and walking Poles.
  • Private Toilet and hot shower tent
  • Local transport before & after the climb.
  • Optional tours not mentioned in itinerary.

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