The Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit route

The Northern Circuit route is a fantastic Kilimanjaro route that’s walked by relatively few. It offers amazing scenery, excellent acclimatisation, and a quiet trek. We tell you all the reasons we love this Kilimanjaro route!

The Northern Circuit route is the longest and newest of the seven established Kilimanjaro routes. It’s one of the best routes because of its great acclimatisation profile, high summit success rate, stunning views, and comparatively relaxed pace. It’s also much less crowded than the other Kilimanjaro routes. Simply put, it’s one of the best ways to experience the roof of Africa.

Quick facts about the Marangu route

Our opinion of the route

The Northern Circuit route is definitely our favourite Kilimanjaro route along with the Lemosho route. If you have the extra time to spare, we believe that the Northern Circuit is the best route for experiencing Mount Kilimanjaro. For starters, it offers stunning scenery including the quiet, rarely visited northern slope. The Northern Circuit is the only route to show you this side of the mountain! You also get to explore more of Kilimanjaro via this slightly longer route, thereby enjoying its various environments thoroughly. We recommend choosing this Kilimanjaro climb route if you have the extra time and money available.

Northern Circuit overview

Northern circuit route

  • Minimum days: 8 days on trek
  • Maximum days: 10 days on trek
  • We recommend: 9 days on trek & 2 nights

We are often asked which is the best route to climb Kilimanjaro on or which has the best scenery or the best acclimatisation. The Northern circuit route is the answer to all of these questions and more. This is relatively new route introduced as a variation to the Lemosho / southern circuit approach and is commonly referred to as Kilimanjaro 360 as it practically covers the entire mountain.

This route is a camping based route and always includes a portable toilet as some of the remote camps on the Northern slopes do not have public facilities. This means the price is usually higher than other routes however also means it is one of the quietest.

The Northern circuit starts from the west and follows the same path as the Lemosho route for the first couple days. From here you divert towards the Northern Icefields and circle the mountain clockwise till the remote northern slops. Your journey continues clockwise and eventually joins the Rongai route on the North east / East to summit via Kibo / Gilmans point and finally descend via Mweka.

We recommend a minimum of 9 days via this route to offer the best acclimatisation profile and maximise your chances of reaching the summit and enjoying the huge variety of scenery offered.

One of the best routes to ascend Kilimanjaro! Scenic. Quiet (less than 5% of traffic on the mountain follows this route). Perfect for acclimatisation.

Route Highlights

Considerations

Northern Circuit Route Tours

northern circuit route kilimanjaro

Northenrn Circuit Route 8/10 Days

What is the scenery like?

The Northern Circuit route is one of the most beautiful of all seven established Kilimanjaro routes. In fact, it might be the most beautiful route of all! Along the route you see all of the different environments and ecosystems the mountain has to offer. From Shira Plateau, you can see Mt Meru floating above the clouds. And when you traverse the quiet northern flank of the mountain, you get to enjoy fabulous vistas across the vast lowlands of southern Kenya. You end the trek at a different gate from the starting one, so there's also no backtracking on the Northern Circuit route – you're always trekking fresh trail.

How hard is the Northern Circuit route?

No Kilimanjaro climb is easy, but the Northern Circuit route is one of the easier climbs because of its great acclimatisation profile. It has great 'climb high, sleep low' opportunities, and as such is the Kilimanjaro route with the highest summit success rate. Put simply, with the right Kilimanjaro preparation anyone can climb it.

What is the route's success rate?

The Northern Circuit route is the longest Kilimanjaro route and also provides many opportunities to climb high and sleep low, both of which give it an excellent acclimatisation profile. The summit success rate of the Northern Circuit route is the highest on the mountain. Whilst there are no official statistics, the average success rate across all Kilimanjaro operators for the Northern Circuit is 90% . KIAfrika Adventure has a success rate of 95% for the Northern Circuit route!

How many days is the Northern Circuit?

The Northern Circuit route can be completed in a minimum of eight days, but we recommend the nine-day itinerary. This extra day gives you more time to acclimatise. Further, climbing Kilimanjaro isn't a race. Especially with this route, the whole idea is to take your time and soak in everything the mountain has to offer! In our experience, most people who have completed the right Kilimanjaro preparation complete the Northern Circuit route with no real problems.

How busy is the route?

The Northern Circuit route is the least frequented of the Kilimanjaro routes. The route circles around the quieter northern slope to the east side of the mountain. You get to enjoy remotes slopes and seldom-used camps. It's the perfect option if you're looking for a quieter, more relaxed Kilimanjaro climb.

What is accommodation like?

The Northern Circuit route only offers camping accommodation. If you climb Kilimanjaro with Kiafrika Adventure then all of your camping equipment is provided for you: tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and pillow. Further, all tents are pitched and then taken down by our dedicated mountain crew. throughout the trek.

You can learn more in Sleeping on Kilimanjaro.

What does the route cost?

KIAfrika Adventure offers the Northern Circuit route as a nine-day group or private climb. This costs $ 2,100 per person (based on double occupancy). The fee includes nine days on the mountain and one day either side at our beautiful partner lodge in Moshi. For more information on inclusions and exclusions, as well as more details about the trip, head to our Kilimanjaro climb page.