Northern Circuit

The Northern Circuit is a remote route that offers the only way to see the entire Kilimanjaro massif. It is one of the longest routes on Kilimanjaro, requiring 9 days and 8 nights on the mountain, and offers a superb acclimatisation profile.

The route follows a circuit trail that goes right around the mountain at a relatively high altitude – typically between 3000 and 4000m. Then up to the summit via Gilman’s Point and around the rim to Uhuru Point, the Roof of Africa!

This rarely-trodden trail is used by the National Park wardens for accessing the entire massif and also as a training route for Kilimanjaro guides.

As the climber gets onto the remote north flank, an element of excitement and risk is present. Rescue from the north takes longer and is more difficult.

What is the scenery like on the North Face Route?
The main approach will take you through the rich Lemosho forest and across the Shira Plateau. Then as the climber moves around to the remote and rarely-visited north side of Kilimanjaro, the scenery becomes more arid and austere. It is so remote here that the shy eland (an antelope that has grown a long coat especially to deal with the cold Kilimanjaro nights) are often seen as well as the occasional buffalo that come to lick minerals from the natural caves on the high slopes of Kilimanjaro.

We have even seen lion pug marks high on the remote slopes of Kilimanjaro when climbing this route! What we haven’t yet seen is another climbing party. The descent is down Marangu Route via the Horombo and Mandara huts.

How long is Northern Circuit Route?
The Northern Circuit is the longest route on Kilimanjaro and is best climbed over nine days, an itinerary which offers an exceptional acclimatisation profile. Shorter ascents are possible but mean some strenuous trekking days.

How tough is Northern Circuit Route?
For some trekkers it may be mentally tough to leave the busy trails and to trek and camp on the remote north flank. However the physical trek over nine days is excellent for altitude acclimatisation and generally easy under foot.

When is the best time to climb?
See our Kilimanjaro seasons guide for advice on the best times of year to climb, applicable to all routes.

What is the accommodation like?
Predominantly tented. Most of the camps on the route do not have huts. On the descent the trail passes through both Horombo and Mandara huts, but Northern Circuit trekkers will be more peaceful in tents.

Who should choose Northern Circuit Route?
This route is ideal for those who want a unique and adventurous climb with most of the trek taking place far from the busy trails. Though it is remote, the Northern Circuit isn’t a strenuous climb, and with a gentle acclimatisation profile is actually very well suited to those wanting to take the time to really appreciate Kilimanjaro’s scenery.

Do you offer open groups on Northern Circuit Route?
We offer a small number of Northern Circuit Fixed Departures each year.