Kilimanjaro Hiking Tours – The complete Mt Kilimanjaro guide to climbing Kilimanjaro

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Recommended duration of climb

The Northern circuit route is one of the most breath taking Kilimanjaro route options available. We strongly recommend you choose the 9 day Northern circuit route, the 8 day Northern Circuit route has very long and strenuous hike on day 3, when hiking from Shira 1 campsite to Moir hut. The 9 day option will also allow your body more time to acclimatize and reduce the possibility to get altitude sickness.

9 Day Northern circuit route itinerary – click here

8 Day Northern circuit route itinerary

Day 1 – Lemosho Gate (2 100m / 6 890ft) – Mti Mkubwa campsite (2 650m / 8 695ft)

Hiking time: 4 to 5 hours
Distance: Approximately 7 km / 4.4 miles
Habitat: Montane forest

Your day starts early with a 3 to 4 hour drive from Moshi town to the Lemosho gate. As you ascend through the beautiful rainforest, you are advised to stop regularly today and to move quietly in the hope of sighting wildlife near the trail. Occasional sightings of small antelope are virtually unique to the Lemosho and Rongai routes.

Day 2 – Mti Mkubwa campsite (2 650m / 8 695ft) – Shira 1 campsite (3 610m / 11 843ft)

Hiking time: 5 to 6 hours
Distance: Approximately 7 km / 4.4 miles
Habitat: Moorland

You rise early at Mti Mkubwa campsite and after breakfast you hike for an hour to the end of the forest. The trail will then steepen gradually and enter a giant heather moorland zone. You will cross several streams on the way to Shira 1 Campsite, located on the western edge of the Shira plateau.

Day 3 – Shira 1 campsite (3 610m / 11 843ft) – Moir hut (4 165m) / 13 664ft)                                                        Hiking time: 7 to 8 hours
Distance: Approximately 14 km / 8.7 miles
Habitat: Moorland

After breakfast, hike directly across the gentle slope of the Shira plateau trek from Shira 1 campsite to Shira 2 campsite. We take a scenic path to Shira Cathedral (3 872m / 12 703ft), a huge buttress of rock surrounded by steep spires and pinnacles. We will stop at Shira 2 campsite for lunch and after lunch continue to Moir Hut, a little used site on the base of Lent Hills. A variety of walks are available on Lent Hills making this an excellent acclimatization opportunity

Day 4 – Moir hut (4 165m) / 13 664ft) – Pofu campsite (4 027m / 13 211ft)

Hiking time: 6 hours
Distance: 11 km / 6.8 miles
Habitat: Semi desert

After breakfast, we continue on this remote Kilimanjaro route, leaving the Moir Valley and make our way up to the top of Lent Hills. We then continue on the trail to Pofu Campsite, offering great views of Mt Kilimanjaro’s northern plains that stretch out over the Kenya / Tanzania border. We enjoy dinner and overnight at Pofu campsite.

Day 5 – Pofu campsite (4 027m / 13 211ft) – Third Cave campsite (3 950m / 12 950ft)

Hiking time: 3 hours
Distance: 8 km / 5 miles
Habitat: Alpine desert

Enjoy breakfast and we continue east on the northern slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro to Third Cave Campsite. The area is extremely remote and we hike through valleys rarely travelled and seen by other hikers, truly one of the most breath taking Kilimanjaro route options available. The landscape has increasingly sparse vegetation, until you finally reach Third Cave Campsite for dinner and overnight.

Day 6 – Third Cave campsite (3 950m / 12 950ft) – Kibo hut (4 720m / 15 485ft)

Hiking time: 5 hours
Distance: Approximately 7 km / 4.3 miles
Habitat: Alpine desert

After breakfast we ascent steadily crossing the “Saddle” located between Mawenzi and Kibo taking approximately 5 hours to reach Kibo Hut. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent, which begins around midnight.  

Day 7 – Summit attempt

Ascend: Kibo hut (4 720m / 15 485ft) – Uhuru Peak (5 895m / 19 341ft)

Hiking time: 6 to 8 hours to reach Uhuru Peak                                                                                                                                                                              Distance: Approximately 6 km / 3.7 miles
Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit

Descend: Uhuru Peak (5 895m / 19 341ft) – Mweka campsite (3 100m / 10 170ft)

Hiking time: 7 to 8 hours to reach Uhuru Peak, 6 to 8 hours to descend to Mweka Campsite
Distance: 12.5 km / 7.8 miles to Mweka campsite or 9 km / 5.6 miles to High campsite
Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit

You will rise at around 23h20 and start your summit attempt. The first section of the trail consists of a rocky path to the Hans Meyer Cave (5 240m / 17 191ft), also a good resting spot. The path, with a lot of stone scree, then zigzags up to Gilman’s point (5 681m / 18 638ft), which is located on the crater rim. The area just before reaching Gilman’s point, is called “Jamaica rocks” and is very steep, rocky area requiring a great physical and mental effort. This is probably the most demanding section of the entire route. Do the Kili shuffle and move slowly.
From Gilman’s Point you will normally encounter snow all the way up to Uhuru peak (5 895m 19 341ft), the highest point in Africa. Total exhilaration and satisfaction – you made it.

We will then descend using a different trail and hike to Barafu campsite where we will have a lunch. If the group managed to summit just after sunrise and everything was on schedule, will we descend down to Mweka campsite (3 100m / 10 170ft). However if the summit attempt took longer than planned, will we overnight at High Campsite (3 950m / 12 960ft), which is located closer to Barafu campsite.

Day 8 – Final descend

Shorter: Mweka campsite (3 100m / 10 170ft) – Mweka Gate (1 640m / 5 380ft)

Hiking time: 3 to 4 hours
Distance: Approximately 10 km / 6.2 miles
Habitat: Forest


Longer: High campsite (3 950m / 12 960ft) – Mweka Gate (1 640m / 5 380ft)

Hiking time: 5 to 7 hours
Distance: From High Campsite approximately 13.5 km Mweka campsite approximately 13.5 km / 8.4 miles
Habitat: Forest

After an early and well-deserved breakfast, it is a short 3 to 4 hour scenic hike from Mweka campsite to the Mweka gate. If the group spend the last night at High Campsite it will be a slightly longer 5 to 7 hour hike down to the Mweka gate.

At Mweka gate, you sign your name and details in a register. This is also where successful climbers will receive their summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Stella Point (5 756m / 18 884ft) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5 895m / 19 341ft) receive gold certificates. Drive back to the hotel for a long overdue hot shower and well deserved rest!