Our longest route, both in distance and time, ‘Orbit Kilimanjaro’ offers excellent acclimatisation, exceptional scenery, very little traffic and some challenging terrain. The Northern Circuit orbits the mountain beginning in the west, traversing the north and descending via the Mweka Route to the south. Starting on the Lemosho route, soak in your first up-close view of Kibo, the daunting but surmountable summit cone, from the Shira Plateau and climb onwards to the impressive Lava Tower. From here part ways and begin to explore the northern slopes, circumnavigating Kibo, which rises high above as a constant reminder of the task ahead. Throughout this traverse you will find few other trekkers. From the high camp the trail climbs steeply, eventually scrambling over Jamaica Rocks and popping out on the rim of the crater at Gilman’s Point. The chance of reaching Uhuru Peak is extremely high. Descend from Stella Point alongside trekkers from Lemosho and Machame. Highly recommended if time and budget allow!
Upon arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport you will be transferred to your accommodation where your guide will meet you for a full briefing and equipment check.
Overnight Simba Farm Lodge (Classic) or Ndarakwai Ranch (Premium)
Lemosho Trailhead (2,400m/7,880ft) to Big Tree Camp (2,800m/9,190ft)
Elevation Gain: 400m/1,310ft
This morning you will drive to the Londorossi gate where you will complete entry formalities. From here your drive continues for around 1 hour to the Lemosho trailhead. Enjoy lunch before commencing your trek through lush undisturbed forest where you may be lucky enough to see Colobus monkeys. The path undulates, steeply in places, to arrive at the first camp after 2-3 hours of trekking.
Overnight Big Tree Camp (Mti Mkubwa)
Big Tree Camp (2,800m/9,190ft) to Shira 1 Camp (3,550m/11,650ft)
Elevation Gain: 750m/2,460ft
Your trek will begin in the forest; however, you will soon leave it behind, taking a steep track into a zone of giant heather and volcanic rock. This is a full day ascending the lush rolling hills below the Shira Plateau. Shira is the third of Kilimanjaro’s volcanic cones. The trail begins to ease as you reach the edge of the plateau, reaching camp after 5-6 hours. The view of Kibo across the plateau is incredible
Overnight Shira 1 Camp
Shira 1 Camp (3,550m/11,650ft) to Shira 2 Camp (3,850m/12,650ft)
Elevation Gain: 300m/1,000ft
Trek across the Shira Plateau with an optional climb to Shira Cathedral (3,880m). Shira is one of the highest plateaus on earth. The day finishes with a gradual climb to Shira 2 Camp. Trekking time without the optional excursion is approximately 3 hours. Including acclimatisation to the peak of Shira Cathedral will add approximately 1 hour.
Overnight Shira 2 Camp
Shira 2 Camp (3,850m/12,650ft) to Moir Huts (4,200m/13,780ft) via Lava Tower (4,600m/15,090ft)
Elevation Gain: 750m/2,400ft
Elevation Loss: 400m/1,310ft
Your climb today will take you steadily up and over the expansive ridge lines of high desert to Lava Tower. The trek to the base of the tower, a 300-foot-high volcanic plug, takes around 4-5 hours. From Lava Tower head north west beginning your circuit of Kibo, the almighty summit cone of Mount Kilimanjaro. Moir Huts is an isolated and seldom used camp, affording views over the Shira Plateau. Total trekking time approximately 6-7 hours. An alternative would be to take a gentle ascent across the alpine desert to Moir Huts in the morning and spend the afternoon on a guided trek of the nearby Lent Group, a series of wind eroded parasite cones from which you can gaze down to the plains of Kenya.
Overnight Moir Huts
Moir Huts (4,200m/13,780ft) to Buffalo/Pofu Camp (4,020m/13,190ft)
Elevation Gain: 180m/590ft
Today you will delve more deeply into the stark alpine desert. If you chose not to explore the Lent Group yesterday, take a short detour to the top of Little Lent Hill (4,375m/14,350ft) in the morning before regaining the trail to Buffalo Camp. The total trekking time today is approximately 5 – 7 hours covering a distance of 12km.
Overnight Buffalo/Pofu Camp
Buffalo/Pofu Camp (4,020m/13,190ft) to Third Cave Camp (3,870m/12,700ft)
Proceed onwards passing valleys and hiking ridges, through alpine desert and moorland, continuing your circuit towards the east. This rarely traveled route allows you to enjoy the vast mountain wilderness in peace. Trekking time today is 5 - 7 hours.
Overnight Third Cave Camp
Third Cave Camp (3,870m/12,700ft) to School Huts (4,750m/15,580ft)
Climb steadily to reach the saddle, a lunar landscape between the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi. From here, continue upwards to reach School Hut Campsite in the early afternoon. The remainder of the day is spent resting and preparing for your summit ascent, which will begin in the early hours of the morning. Despite the short distance of 5km covered, trekking time is approximately 4-5 hours due to the high altitude and steep incline.
Overnight School Huts
School Huts (4,750m/15,580ft) to Uhuru Peak (5,895m/19,340ft) then descending to Mweka Camp (3,110m/10,200ft)
Elevation Gain: 1,145m/3,760ft
Elevation Loss: 2,785m/9,140ft
Around midnight, begin the final ascent to Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa. For the next six hours, hike by the light of your flashlight. The ascent to the crater rim is the most challenging part of the entire trek. The trail consists mostly of steep switchbacks, with a rocky section known as Jamaica Rocks to scramble over as you approach the crater rim at Gilman's Point (5,756m). The hike from here to Uhuru Peak is gradual and, as far as hikes go, not very difficult. The altitude however makes it feel long and tiring. After summit celebrations descend from the rim at Stella Point, to Barafu Camp and then straight down to Mweka Hut, with lunch served on the way. This part of the descent takes about 6 hours, covering new terrain. Enjoy your last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.
Overnight Mweka Camp
Mweka Camp (3,110m/10,200ft) to Mweka Gate (1,830m/6,000ft)
Elevation Loss: 1,280m/4,200ft
Descend to the gate through lush forest (2-3 hours), looking for monkeys along the way. You will be collected from Mweka Village and taken to your hotel in Moshi.
Overnight Ameg Lodge (Classic) or Pink Flamingo Boutique Hotel (Premium)
Today you will be transferred to Kilimanjaro Airport in time for your flight, or if you’ve decided to extend your Tanzanian adventure, begin the next part of your journey!
To start planning your tour with us, you can create an itinerary from scratch, or modify one of our suggested itineraries. Whether your trip is a few days’ or a few weeks’ long, local travel experts will craft a unique itinerary, fully tailored to your wishes. Want to visit the beautiful destination, or start an adventure to reach to the top? They will will make it happen.