The Northern Circuit is the longest and most beautiful route to summit Mount Kilimanjaro by trekking.

There is the Kilema Route though, which is specifically for cycling. And remember the longer the route, the higher the chance of overall success.

This long climb starts off with a short drive from Arusha or Moshi town where your accommodation probably is to the Londorossi Gate, where you begin your tranquil journey. From the Londorossi gate, the trail begins with the Lemosho route for the early days of the trek, traversing the evergreen rainforest at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro then taking an ascent to the Shira Ridge cutting through the expansive Shira Plateau. As y you approach the Lava Tower, you abandon the Lemosho Route and head northwards to follow the actual Northern Circuit Route.

This deviation from the Lemosho to the proper northern Circuit Route makes the trek to circumnavigate the mountain circularly via the northern slopes traversing them to the East.

The Northern Circuit is more remote especially on the northern side that has very low traffic of climbers and comes out as a very unexplored and virgin environment.

Plan your climb on the Northern Circuit

  • Location: begins at the Londorossi gate, from the west of the mountain, the same direction as another route called Lemosho.
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Height: The Northern Circuit route approaches the summit point of Uhuru peak at a height of 5,895 meters (19,341 feet).
  • Duration: it is a long route that takes 8 – 9 days, with an optional extra day for acclimatization.
  • Trail conditions: has less traffic since it is newer, less popular and one of the most expensive routes but it is very scenic offering very beautiful views.

The Northern Circuit Route of Mount Kilimanjaro is an amazing route, despite the cost and duration. This route lets you circle the mountain rewarding you with 360 degrees views of the scenic mount Kilimanjaro northern slopes at nearly 4000 meters or 13, 123 ft.

This route is definitely the longest and remote route for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and gives you more acclimatization time. It is also has a high success rate making it one of the safest routes on Mount Kilimanjaro that follows the “walk high, sleep low” principle which really helps with acclimatization.

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Northern Circuit Trek Tips

  • Make sure you study and compare all the routes before making your choice. Among the things to consider are traffic levels, difficulty, sights, and scenery.
  • Before you begin your Northern Circuit hike, please make sure you are physically prepared by training and hiking for practice.
  • In order to be mentally prepared for the Northern route, try out camping at home to familiarize yourself with limited facilities, and overcome challenges you might come across while at the mountain.
  • Cross check to make sure you have packed all the right gear, personal belongings and equipment.
  • Always stay hydrated and drink as much water as possible, it will come in handy on your trek and it will help you with altitude sickness and energy.
  • Altitude sickness is a must, be mentally prepared to deal with it on the mountain, we will also be there for you.
  • The longer the route and duration, the better. Do not go for shorter routes unless you have immense experience with tackling high-altitude mountains.
  • Take your time and enjoy the views, don’t rush.

Summiting and Descent via Northern Circuit Route

This route might easily be one of the best routes to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. All routes through use Gilman’s Point as the meeting point to reach the Uhuru Peak summit.

To go down the mountain and exiting, the descent is via the Mweka route which is basically the most used route for descent by various routes like the Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe or Machame routes.

How hard is the Northern Circuit?

The Northern Circuit is a remote and challenging route, taking longer days to summit, as it is the longest route on the mountain and also the most remote route.

The longer itinerary means that the Northern Circuit Route accommodates enough time for acclimatization and uses the “walk high, sleep low” principle, which really helps with combating acclimatization sickness.

This route also avoids climbing the Barranco Wall but still during summit night approaching Gilman’s Point, it will not be an easy thing to do.

Fitness is of the essence here as you will be trekking long hours via this Route. Previous trekking experience would be an added advantage, as the days will feature about 6-8 hours of hiking with daily ascents of 900m (2,953 ft) to 1,000m (3281 ft.) or sometimes the odd day ascending around 1,100m  (3609 ft.)to 1,200m (3937 ft)

As the Northern Circuit Route is relatively long, you will need great levels of fitness and mental stamina because you will be trekking at an altitude of over 3,500m(11,483 ft). You need complete confidence in your ability to trek for many days over difficult terrain and sometimes extreme weather conditions the higher you go.

The Northern Circuit route success rate

The Northern Circuit route has an average success rate of 90% – 95%, which is quite high. The main reason for this high summit success rate is because of the route’s long length which facilitates enough acclimatization time for climbers.

Mount Kilimanjaro’s Northern Circuit Route runs from the western side of the mountain and makes its path around the northern slopes towards the northeastern slopes before descending to the southeastern side of Mount Kilimanjaro. The route covers a total distance of 96 kilometers long and takes a duration of about nine days.

Northern Circuit Map & Location

Northern Circuit Route Map

Northern Circuit Route Tour Package

How to climb Kilimanjaro’s Northern Circuit Route

Any physical activity you can do prior to your climb will give you a boost by making your climb easier and pleasant. Your summit goal should match your fitness levels as if you want to reach Uhuru peak, you have to put in some effort in training.

Mount Kilimanjaro can be a climber any time of the year although some months may be colder and wetter like the months of April, May, and November so waterproof gear is strongly recommended.

The best time to climb the Northern Circuit Route is between the months of January–March and June–October.

You will need all the necessary, recommended mountain gear for climbing the Northern Circuit route. The full Mount Kilimanjaro’s Northern Circuit climbing gear list can be found here on this link.

If you are flying from the UK, the US, Australia or Canada, and other parts of the world you can find many sources for searching and booking flights to Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro International Airport or any nearby airport. After flying into Tanzania, you will be picked up at your hotel room before and after your climb then afterward you will be driven to the Northern Circuit Route on mount Kilimanjaro for trekking.

  1. To climb the northern Circuit Route, you will need careful planning and great training to improve your fitness levels.
  2. We recommend adding an extra day to your itinerary to minimize or avoid altitude sickness and enjoy your time climbing Kilimanjaro
  3. Make sure you have all the recommended equipment and climbing gear.

To gain access to the Mountain and start climbing the Northern Circuit Route, you will need to pay the Kilimanjaro entrance and park fees, which will be included in your itinerary costs as our Kilimanjaro tours are all-inclusive.

The total trekking distance and length of the Northern Circuit trail is roughly 97km or 60 miles.

The success rate of the Northern Circuit Route with Tranquil Kilimanjaro is between 90% -95% which is quite impressive. This high success rate is due to the fact that the Northern Circuit is the longest route to summit Mount Kilimanjaro which gives enough time for acclimatization.

The Northern Circuit offers amazing views as it ascends the northern slopes of the mountain with very low traffic accessing the route before ascending up the eastern side of the slope past a variety of vegetation zones like the rainforest and moorlands.

Northern Circuit Route Reviews

Below are some reviews we collected from our past clients that used the Northern Circuit Route.

One of the best decisions we made before climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was stumbling upon this company. We later came to realise that choosing a route would play a major role in our summit success rate. After careful consideration and under the guidance of Mount Kilimanjaro routes, we settled for the longer variation of the 9 day Northern Circuit route. The hardest bit I would say was the final hurdle to the summit. The summit night. The rest of the trek was manageable and smooth. The food was great and basic. Our guide was very helpful throughout the whole expedition. We would greatly recommend this company. Amazing trip.

Rob Ashmore – Ottawa, Canada