Why The Northern Circuit Route Is Perfect For Slow Acclimatization On Kilimanjaro

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African Scenic Safaris

Last updated on August 23rd, 2023 at 06:43 am

Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit Route

The Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit Route is the perfect combination of all the best elements of a Kilimanjaro Climb. And if you want the perfect Kilimanjaro Route that balances out ample time for acclimatization, then the Northern Circuit Route will deliver.

Altitude Sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) on Mount Kilimanjaro is not to be taken lightly. Even experienced hikers are guaranteed to experience at least some mild symptoms. Below we’ll look at how Climbing Kilimanjaro via the Northern Circuit Route helps in the acclimatization process and how you should prepare for AMS at higher altitudes.

The Importance Of Slow Acclimatization On Kilimanjaro

Acclimatization On Kilimanjaro

To climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, you have to trek nearly 6,000 m above sea level. At that elevation and high altitude region, the air is very thin and is sure to affect everyone, even the fittest of hikers. So, one cannot describe Kilimanjaro without going into detail about altitude sickness.

Altitude sickness is a negative health effect of high altitudes. As the percentage of oxygen reduces the higher you climb up Kilimanjaro. Thus, the body finds it difficult to adapt and function properly.

Most symptoms of altitude sickness are entirely normal when Climbing Kilimanjaro. Mild symptoms of altitude sickness involve:

  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Muscle Aches
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Swelling of feet and hands
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches

Key Insights – Symptoms of altitude sickness depend on the rate of ascent, elevation, and individual sensitivity. Everybody acclimatizes at different rates. The symptoms generally begin 12 to 24 hours after arrival at the higher altitude region. And, they tend to decrease in severity around the third day of the climb.

There are three basic rules of thumb you should follow on Kilimanjaro for slow acclimatization. I.e. drink plenty of fluids, go slow, and climb high sleep low approach.

Why The Northern Circuit Route Is Perfect For Slow Acclimatization

Northern Circuit Route

The Northern Circuit Route is one of the best Kilimanjaro Routes when it comes to slow acclimatization. Because it’s the longest route on Kilimanjaro, it offers a great acclimatization profile and has plenty of climb-high, sleep-low opportunities.

The following are even more reasons why the Northern Circuit Route is great for slow acclimatization:

Gentle Elevation Gain– The trail involves a few days of hiking at a lower elevation. – This allows the body to slowly adjust to the altitude and increases the chances of reaching the top.
Remote and Less Crowded– This helps to reduce stress and allows for a more relaxed pace, both of which are important for acclimatization.
Beautiful Sceneries– This helps climbers a great environment to acclimatize and helps to stay motivated throughout the trail.
Note – Even with the slow acclimatization process of the Northern Circuit Route, there still might be some mild symptoms of altitude sickness. So, always follow the advice of the mountain guides and take all the general precautions to stay safe on the mountain.

How To Prepare For The Northern Circuit Route

You should devote a significant amount of time to training for Climbing Kilimanjaro. Begin your Kilimanjaro Training at least 8 weeks before your climb and a routine of 4 times per week exercise should be followed. This includes regular aerobic exercises, strength training, elliptical runs, and hiking.

The oxygen levels at various altitudes along the Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit Route vary, so symptoms of altitude sickness are likely to kick into effect.

Sea LevelSea Level20.90%
2000 – feet above sea level609 m above sea level19.40%
3000 – feet above sea level914 m above sea level18.60%
4000 – feet above sea level1219 m above sea level17.90%

Recommended Exercises Before Climbing Kilimanjaro On The Northern Circuit

Aerobic Training3-4 Days a week (for 40 minutes)
Strength Training2 Sessions a week (for an hour)
Warm-Up and Stretching Exercises3 Sessions a week (for 7 weeks)

The right gear is also essential before climbing the Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit. So, include the following things in your clothing items:

  • Windproof Jacket and Trousers
  • Mid Layer Fleece or Jacket
  • Down Jacket
  • Base Layer
  • Trekking Trousers
  • A few pairs of underwear
  • Insulated Gloves

For your backpack, choose a rucksack with a capacity of 60-70 liters and a daypack with a capacity of 40 liters. A sleeping bag should also be on your Kilimanjaro Gear List. You won’t have to bring tents as they will be provided by your climbing operator. Also, you can even rent some equipment with the help of our team at African Scenic Safaris.

Orbit Kilimanjaro – Best Itinerary On Northern Circuit

Before you climb Kilimanjaro using the Northern Circuit Route, you should know what the 9-Days Northern Circuit Route itinerary looks like. This will help you figure out what pit stop you’ll make along the way and when you’ll have time for proper acclimatization.

Orbit Kilimanjaro (9 Days Northern Circuit Route Itinerary)

DAY 1– Lemosho Trailhead – Big Tree Camp1,310 ft.Big Tree Camp
DAY 2– Big Tree Camp – Shira 1 Camp2,460 ft.Shira 1 Camp
DAY 3– Shira 1 Camp – Shira 2 Camp1,000 ft.Shira 2 Camp
DAY 4– Shira 2 Camp – Moir Huts2,400 ft. – Gain 1,310 ft. – Elevation LossMoir Huts
DAY 5– Moir Huts – Buffalo/Pofu Camp590 ft.Buffalo or Pofu Camp
DAY 6– Buffalo/Pofu Camp – Third Cave Camp490 ft.Third Cave Camp
DAY 7– Third Cave Camp – School Huts2,880 ft.School Huts
DAY 8– School Huts – Uhuru Peak3,760 ft. – Gain 9,140 ft. – Elevation LossMweka Camp
DAY 9– Mweka Camp – Mweka Gate4,200 ft. – Elevation LossAmeg Lodge or Pink Flamingo Boutique Hotel

Perfect Acclimatization Is The Lifeblood Of The Northern Circuit Route

Because of the longer duration, gentle elevation game, and fewer crowds, the Northern Circuit Route is the name of the game when it comes to acclimatization on Kilimanjaro. Remember that mild symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) are to be expected. But, when you choose the Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit Route, these symptoms can be largely minimized.

So, we encourage you to choose one of our most popular Mount Kilimanjaro Packages – the 9-Day Northern Circuit Route and you’re sure to have a safe climb with one of the best acclimatization profiles.

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