Vehicles take climbers to the gate at 2,000 metres at the entrance to the forest on the north eastern side of the mountain. This is a journey of a little over an hour from Marangu.
From here it is a 3 to 4 hour walk, gradually ascending through the forest, to the camp which is just clear of the forest at 2,600 metres.
The path ascends on a good path through Alpine moorland, similar to what is found on the Marangu route, to Second Cave at 3500 metres. After a lunch stop here, the path forks left towards Mawenzi.
After another 3 hours on a rocky path, Kikelewa Cave is reached at 3690 metres. Total time is about 6-7 hours. This is really quite a long day, although most of the altitude gain is achieved in the first half of the day.
The path climbs up a steep ridge directly towards Mawenzi. At the top of the ridge, the path turns left and traverses across rocky landscape and then descends into the Tarn Valley where camp is made at 4320 metres.
The distance covered is only about 5 kilometres but this usually takes about 3 to 4 hours because of the steepness and altitude. After lunch at Mawenzi Tarn, climbers can trek up into the north corrie of Mawenzi to admire the mountain and to get views eastwards down the Small Barranco (the second largest valley on Kilimanjaro) or westwards across the Saddle towards Kibo.
You will leave Mawenzi peak and start your traverse across to Kibo peak, before starting your trek around the north side of Kibo.
You traverse numerous dry valleys during the day, approaching Kibo as you trek. On a clear day you have wonderful views of Kibo ahead of you, and Mawenzi behind you. This day is not too steep overall, although there are a few steep climbs out of valleys.
The north circuit camp is lower than Mawenzi Tarn camp, so this is a good day in terms of acclimatization. The hike is roughly 7km and will take roughly 5 hours.
This day is characterized by valleys, and you will walk in and out of several valleys during the day. Each valley has it’s own unique topography and vegetation and make for great viewing as you work you way around the northern side of Kibo peak.
Moir Hut, at 4155m, is roughly 130m higher than the North Circuit camp (often called Pofu camp), however during the day you will climb almost 250m higher than Moir, before descending down to Moir on the latter part of your hike.
The hike will take between 4 and 5 hours.
The climb from Moir Camp, at 4,160 m, via Lava Tower Camp to Barranco Camp at 3980m takes about 5 hours. The day is in the Alpine desert and you will have great views of the western glaciers on Kibo.
You will ascend to Lava Tower at 4,600m, before descending down to Barranco camp for the night. Barranco camp offers wonderful views of the imposing Barranco Wall.
The path climbs out of the Barranco Valley via the Barranco wall. This is a steep 1 to 2 hour climb, ascending about 300 metres. The path then follows the gently undulating Kibo South Circuit.
Wonderful views are to be had of Kibo’s southern glaciers if the weather is clear. After about 3 hours the Karanga valley is reached.
There is a short but steep descent into the valley, which has a small stream running through it, and then a short climb up the eastern valley wall. At the top of the wall, at 4000 metres, is the Karanga Valley camp. Lunch is usually had here, and then the path climbs for about 3 hours to Barafu camp at 4600 metres.
Climbers are woken at about 11pm. After dressing in all their warm clothing, they have a hot drink and then set off at midnight. The first part of the ascent is on a rocky ridge.
This then turns into scree. The surface is loose and can be hard going. On its steepest sections, the path zig zags up the scree. It takes an average of 6 hours to reach Stella Point on the crater rim. On a fine morning, the views of the sun rising from behind Mawenzi are spectacular.
Stella Point is at 5,750 metres. From here, the path goes around the crater rim for a further hour to the summit at Uhuru Peak, 5896 metres.
The descent back to Kibo Hut, via Gillman’s Point can take a further 3 or 4 hours. After a rest and a meal, the descent continues to Horombo Hut via the lower route, a further trek of around 3 hours.
The descent from Horombo to Mandara Hut takes around 3 hours, and the final part of the descent through the forest to Marangu Gate takes another 2 hours.
At the Gate vehicles will be waiting to take you and your crew back to the hotel.
The northern circuit route can also be climbed by starting at Lemosho gate, and hiking around Kibo, before ascending to the summit from Kibo Hut (on the Marangu Route) and descending down the Mweka descent route to Mweka Gate.
Contact us to discuss the differences between the two approaches! We are happy to organize either!