The Northern Circuit Route, a new route, starts in the west from Londorossi Gate, travels to Shira Ridge, and crosses over to the Shira Plateau. Then, instead of traveling south and following the direction that other routes take, The Northern Circuit swings north, traveling clockwise to the summit from the east. 

After swinging to the north the route becomes less crowded. You’ll enjoy the peacefulness of the trail with a lot of acclimatization time. 

The Northern Circuit is one of the most expensive routes because it is 9 days. However, it’s possible to stay overnight at the crater. You’ll be able to explore more around the summit, and see the sunset and sunrise. It’s also a good option if you’ll be unable to climb the summit and descend right away. For example, if you have knee problems or are a slower climber, it would give you more time to relax after climbing the summit. 

The descent is made along Mweka route.

The team at the campsite at Arrow Glacier.

Sample Itinerary For a 9-day Trek

Day 1: After breakfast and briefing, we’ll drive to Londorossi Park Gate (about a 3-hour drive). We’ll walk along forest trails to Mti Mkubwa (big tree) Camp.

  • Destination: Hotel to Mti Mkubwa Camp
  • Elevation: 1,830 meters/6,000 feet to 2,650 meters/8,700 feet
  • Distance: 6 km/4 miles
  • Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
  • Habitat: Montane Forest
  • Meals: Lunch and dinner

Day 2: After breakfast, we’ll continue as the trail gradually steepens and enters the giant heather moorland zone. After several streams are crossed we’ll continue over the Shira Ridge then gently downwards to Shira 1 Camp located by a stream on the Shira Plateau.

  • Destination: Mti Mkubwa Camp to Shira 1 Camp
  • Elevation: 2,650 meters/8,700 feet to 3,500 meters/11,500 feet
  • Distance: 8 km/5 miles
  • Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
  • Habitat: Moorland
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 3: After breakfast, we’ll do a gentle hike across the plateau that leads to Shira 2 Camp on moorland meadows by a stream. A variety of hikes are available on the plateau, making this an excellent acclimatization day.

  • Destination: Shira 1 Camp to Shira 2 Camp
  • Elevation: 3,500 meters/11,500 feet to 3,850 meters/12,600 feet
  • Distance: 8 km/5 miles
  • Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
  • Habitat: Moorland
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 4: This day is a long trek heading east. It passes through the Garden of the Senecios and then enters the high alpine desert zone. The morning is spent trekking up to Lava Tower and the iconic Shark’s Tooth rock formation at 4,600 meters/15,5092 feet, where you will have lunch. After lunch you will join The Northern Circuit heading down to Moir Camp at 4,200 meters/13,779 feet. This is an important day in your trek as you will get to experience high altitude and then sleep low, which is good for the acclimatization process.

  • Destination: Shira 2 Camp to Moir Camp
  • Elevation: 3,850 meters/11,500 feet to 4,200 meters/13,780 feet
  • Distance: 14 km/8 miles
  • Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
  • Habitat: Moorland
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 5: Today, we’ll encounter a moderately steep climb out of Moir Valley. We can do an optional hike to the summit of Little Lent Hill at 4,375 meters/14,354 feet before returning to The Northern Circuit. From here the route follows a series of inclines and declines, skirting around the northern slopes of Kibo to Buffalo Camp.

  • Destination: Moir Camp to Buffalo Camp
  • Elevation: 4,200 meters/13,780 feet to 4,020 meters/13,188 feet
  • Distance: 12 km/7 miles
  • Walking Time: 5-6 hours
  • Habitat: High alpine
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 6: We’ll start the day with a climb up the Buffalo Ridge and down into Porfu Camp where lunch is usually served. The route then continues east around the northern slopes to Rongai Third Cave. The trek is shorter than the day before and by now you should be feeling well acclimated to the altitude. You’ll arrive at Third Cave around mid-afternoon.

  • Destination: Buffalo Camp to Rongai Third Cave Camp
  • Elevation: 4,020 meters/13,188 feet to 3,800 meters/12,467 feet
  • Distance: 8 km/5 miles
  • Climbing Time: 5-7 hours
  • Habitat: High alpine
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 7: Today involves a steady incline up and over the Saddle which sits between the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi Peaks. Trekkers then continue walking south-west up to School Hut. After arriving at School Hut, you’ll be served an early dinner and then you should get some shut-eye as you will be woken before midnight to start your summit attempt. Remember to prepare all your gear, including warm clothes, insulated water bottles, snacks, headlamp, and camera before going to bed.

  • Destination: Third Cave Camp to School Hut
  • Elevation: 3,800 meters/12,467 feet to 4,800 meters/15,748 feet
  • Distance: 15 km/8 miles
  • Climbing Time: 4-5 hours
  • Habitat: Alpine desert
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 8: Your first check-point is Hans Meyer Cave where you will take a short break. The climb steepens as you approach Gilman’s Point at 5,681 meters/18,638 feet, which will be around 5-6 hours after departing School Hut.

Take a moment to enjoy the approaching dawn and incredible view out and across to Mawenzi Peak, but remember you still have 2 hours trekking to reach Uhuru Peak so dig deep for the energy. The slope flattens as you head west around the crater rim and you should arrive at the summit at or just after sunrise.

Your stay here will be brief so get as many pictures as you can of the incredible views and surrounding glaciers. You’ll then retrace your steps back around the crater rim to Stella Point (5,739 meters/18,828 feet) where you’ll turn south and head down the heavily screed slopes of Kibo to Barafu Camp (4,680 meters/15,354 feet). 

Most trekkers take a short break here before continuing down to High Camp (3,950 meters/12,959 feet) for your final night on the mountain. In total you will be trekking for 14-16 hours so it is important to pace yourself, remain hydrated, and keep your blood sugar levels up.

  • Destination: School Hut to Uhuru Peak to High Camp
  • Elevation: 4,800 meters/15,748 feet to 5,895 meters/19,340 feet to 3,950 meters/12,959 feet
  • Distance: 6 km/3.5 miles up. 11 km/6 miles down
  • Hiking Time: 5-7 hours up / 5-6 hours down
  • Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 9: After breakfast we’ll continue the descent down to the Mweka Park Gate to receive your summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be plenty to wear (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy). We’ll be waiting for you at Mweka Gate to drive you back to your hotel for the final night or departure.

  • Destination: High Camp to Mweka Gate
  • Elevation: 3,950 meters/12,959 feet to 1,680 meters/5,500 feet
  • Distance: 10 km/6 miles
  • Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
  • Habitat: Forest
  • Meals: Breakfast and lunch