What Makes The Northern Circuit Route Different From Other Kilimanjaro Routes?

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African Scenic Safaris
Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit Route

The Northern Circuit Route, Kilimanjaro is the longest and newest route on Kilimanjaro and ultimately the best. With the highest rate of around 95% summit success route, it might be the most beautiful Kilimanjaro climbing route.

Northern Circuit Route can be completed in a minimum of 8 days, but we recommend the 9-day of trekking.  This extra day will give you more time to acclimatize.

Impressively this is also known as the Grand Traverse or 360 route offers the complete experience of Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing. It offers picturesque scenery, excellent acclimatization, and a quick climb. It is also less crowded than the other Kilimanjaro Routes.

How Northern Circuit Route Differentiate From Other Kilimanjaro Routes

Kilimanjaro Routes

There are some key differences between the Northern Circuit Route Kilimanjaro and other Kilimanjaro routes in terrain, altitude gain, and acclimatization.

The Marangu Route is the only route that offers hut accommodations instead of camping. The Machame Route is a popular and challenging route that offers stunning views and varied landscapes. It includes the Shira Plateau and Barranco Wall. The route is known for its steep and rocky terrain, making it a difficult but rewarding option for experienced trekkers.

Coming to the Lemosho Route is a newer and less crowded option and is known for its diverse landscapes, including the lush rainforest. The route is more gradual, allowing for better acclimatization and increasing the chances of summit success.

Another well-known Rongai Route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north and is known for its beautiful wilderness areas. It offers climbers a chance to see various wildlife such as buffalo, elephants, and monkeys.

Northern Circuit Route and Other Kilimanjaro Routes

RouteAltitude GainDurationCrowdsSceneryWildlifeCultural Encounters
Northern CircuitGradual9-12 daysFewerVaried and stunningDiverse and abundantUnique and immersive
MaranguSteep5-6 daysMoreLess variedFewer speciesMinimal
MachameSteep6-7 daysMoreVaried and beautifulSome speciesMinimal
LemoshoGradual8-9 daysModerateVaried and beautifulDiverse and abundantSome
RongaiGradual6-7 daysModerateLess variedFewer speciesSome

Overall, each Kilimanjaro Climbing Route offers its unique features and challenges. It’s on you to choose the right route based on your trekking experience, fitness level, and personal preferences. But in our opinion, the Northern Circuit route offers some unique experiences among others.

Scenery and Wildlife

The Northern Circuit Route Kilimanjaro is known for its dynamic scenery and wildlife sightings. It is considered to be one of the most scenic routes on Kilimanjaro, with a variety of landscapes including lush rainforest, high-altitude desert, and alpine meadows. You will able to see stunning views of the surrounding Mount Meru and the Great Rift Valley.

Apart from the scenic showcase, the Northern Circuit Route passes through areas that are home to a variety of wildlife, including elephants, buffaloes, and other animals that inhabit the dense rainforest.

Trekkers may also see a variety of bird species, including the African crowned eagle and the silvery-cheeked hornbill as well. The route also offers a chance to see some of the Serengeti’s famous wildlife, including wildebeest, zebras, and giraffes.

Longer Acclimatization Time

The acclimatization time of the Northern Circuit Route can vary depending on the individual’s fitness level and ability to acclimatize to high altitudes. This route is the longest route on Mount Kilimanjaro, with a recommended trekking time of 9-10 days.

While trekking, climbers will gradually ascend through different altitude zones, allowing their bodies to acclimatize to the increasing altitude. The Northern Circuit route has an excellent acclimatization profile, with a long and gradual ascent, which makes it one of the best routes for acclimatization.

Typically, most climbers take 9-10 days to complete the Northern Circuit Route, allowing for proper acclimatization. However, some experienced climbers may opt for a faster ascent, which could potentially increase the risk of altitude sickness.

Fewer Crowds and a More Exclusive Experience

The Northern Circuit route Kilimanjaro is known for being one of the less crowded routes, offering a more exclusive experience for climbers. Because this is one of the mountain’s longer routes, typically takes around 8-9 days to complete. It means that fewer people tend to choose this route, as many climbers prefer shorter routes that take less time to complete. In addition, the Northern Circuit Route is relatively new compared to some of the other routes on Kilimanjaro, The route has since gained popularity among those seeking a more exclusive and off-the-beaten-path experience. Also, it gives the opportunity to explore some of the less visited parts of the mountain, including the remote northern slopes.

Varied and Adventurous Terrain

The Northern Circuit route on Kilimanjaro is known for its varied and enthralling terrain, offering climbers a diverse range of landscapes to explore as they make their way to the summit. Have a look at some highlighted ones.

  • Forest zone: The route starts in the lush forest zone, where climbers can enjoy the shade of tall trees and spot wildlife such as monkeys and birds.
  • Moorland zone: As climbers ascend higher, the terrain changes to moorland, characterized by grassy plains and heather-covered hills.
  • Alpine desert zone: The terrain becomes more barren and rocky as climbers enter the alpine desert zone, where they can enjoy views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
  • Lava tower: One of the most iconic landmarks on this route is the Lava Tower, a tall volcanic rock formation that climbers pass by on day three of the trek.
  • Crater rim: The final ascent to the summit takes climbers along the crater rim, offering stunning views of the glaciers and crater below.
  • Northern slopes: This route also takes climbers to the remote northern slopes of Kilimanjaro, where they can experience a more rugged and less travelled terrain.

Unique Cultural Encounters in Northern Circuit Route

Northern Circuit Route

The Northern Circuit route on Kilimanjaro provides exclusive cultural experiences that other mountain routes do not offer. Those are:

  • Visiting local villages: Along the way, climbers on the Northern Circuit route have the chance to visit local villages and interact with people who live in the shadow of Kilimanjaro. This provides a unique insight into the daily lives of meeting the people who call the area home.
  • Meeting Chagga people: The Chagga people are one of the largest ethnic groups in Tanzania and are known for their traditional farming practices. The Northern Circuit route takes climbers through the Chagga homeland, giving them the opportunity to meet locals and learn about their culture and way of life.
  • Visiting schools and orphanages: Some tour operators include visits to local schools and orphanages as part of their itineraries. This allows climbers to meet local children and learn about the challenges they face in accessing education and healthcare.
  • Learning about local wildlife and conservation efforts: The Northern Circuit route passes through some of the most biodiverse areas in Tanzania, including Kilimanjaro National Park. Climbers can learn about the efforts being made to protect the unique flora and fauna found in the area.

Participating in cultural events: Depending on the time of year, climbers may have the opportunity to participate in local festivals and events, such as harvest festivals or traditional dance performances.

Choose Your Path To The Summit: Why The Northern Circuit Route Is Exceptional

The Northern Circuit Route Kilimanjaro is a great option for those looking for a longer, more diverse, and less crowded trekking experience. The route allows better acclimatization and higher chances of reaching the summit. With varied terrain, breathtaking views, and a high success rate, the Northern Circuit Route is unique and challenging compared to other routes. If you’re looking for a trekking adventure on this off-the-beaten path that offers a more serene and peaceful experience, the Northern Circuit Route is definitely worth considering. The African Scenic Safaris team is always delighted by making the guests happy. Just let us know about your choice and we will make your Kilimanjaro climbing memorable!

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