Mt. Kilimanjaro Trek – Northern Circuit route with Crater Camp 9 Days

Mt. Kilimanjaro Trek – Northern Circuit route with Crater Camp 9 Days

Trip Introduction

Experience Kilimanjaro’s uncharted territories with remote trails that offer maximum comfort and a great acclimatization schedule. Spend one night at Kilimanjaro’s baffled crater, 5,732m above sea level, away from the crowds.

The Northern Circuit trail is longer than other Kilimanjaro trails, taking a minimum of eight or nine days to complete. The eight-day trek skips the additional acclimatization day usually spent at Shira Camp 2 and continues to Moir Camp.

The route allows ample time to explore Kilimanjaro’s lesser-known features, such as Shark’s Tooth and various caves along the way.

About Crater Camp on Kilimanjaro

This is not a separate route, but rather an exciting extension that can be added to any existing route. It involves spending the night in the crater’s bowl, an incredible experience reserved for only the most adventurous hikers. The length of the trip will depend on the chosen route. It’s important to note that camping at the crater can be costly as there are additional fees charged by the park authority and crew wages are paid extra.

Day 0: Pre-trek Briefing

If you have chosen to use our airport transfer service, we will collect you from Kilimanjaro Airport and take you to your hotel in Moshi or Arusha. Your guide will meet you at the hotel for a pre-trek briefing, which is scheduled for the day after your arrival. We recommend that you arrive at least one day before the trek begins. During the briefing, we will discuss the trek and review your equipment. If you require any additional equipment, we can arrange for it to be rented from our store.

Day 1: Lemosho Gate to Mti Mkubwa Camp

  • Elevation:1,200m to 1,950 m to 2,850 m
  • Distance:
  • Hiking Time:3-4 hours
  • Habitat:Montane Forest to moorland and heath vegetation.

We will pick you up from your hotel your hotel and transport you to Lemosho gate for registration. After this formality, from this point you will start the trek across undisturbed Montane forest decorated with Black and White Colobus Monkey to the camp where dinner and overnight will take place.

Day 2: Mti Mkubwa To Shira 1 Camp

  • Elevation:2,850m9,498 ft to 3484m/ 11,500 ft
  • Distance: 8 km
  • Hiking Time: 5-6 hours
  • Habitat: Heath

We continue on the trail leading out of the rain forest and into a savannah of tall grasses, heather and volcanic rock draped with lichen beards. As we ascend through the lush rolling hills and cross several streams, we reach the Shira Ridge before dropping gently down to Shira 1 Camp. Here we catch our first glimpse of Kibo across the plateau.

Day 3: Shira I Camp to Moir Hut Camp

  • Elevation:3500m to 4200m
  • Distance:7km.
  • Hiking time:4-5 hours
  • Habitat:Moorland

Today we have the chance to view the Northern ice fields from the western side of the mountain with some unusual views of Kibo. The terrain during our steady climb will change from the moorland of the Shira Plateau to the broad upland desert beneath the Lent Hills with great panoramic views.

Your guide may leave you with the option to hike up to the Shira Cathedral or head straight to the next camp. Our camp is close to Moir Hut (4170m).  If you choose to see the cathedral, you won’t be let down. The cathedral is approximately an hour and a half away from the trail and was caused by an ancient eruption. To get to see it up close is a scenic treat, and some say it’s the highlight of their trek!

If you don’t choose to see the cathedral, you will arrive at your camp by mid-day. Use your afternoon to go for a walk further up the mountain. The higher you hike during the day before returning to your camp at a lower altitude, the better you will acclimatize to the thin air.

Day 4:  Moir Hut to Pofu Camp

  • Elevation:4200m to 4030m
  • Distance:
  • Hiking time:6-7 hours
  • Habitat:Moorland

Today you will head north onto the Northern Circuit, away from all other routes that approach the summit on the southern slopes. The day will begin with a fairly steep climb, as you hike to the summit of Lent Hills. You will be rewarded with breathtaking scenery of the vast moon-like terrain and the snow-covered mountains. After you’ve accomplished the most challenging part of the day, and admired the views, it’s time to head east across the rock fields and back onto a trodden trail.

For the remainder of your hiking day, the path gently undulates and you cross a series of inclines and declines through the slopes of Kibo. As you approach Buffalo Camp, and weather permitting, you are met with a scenery of plains that stretch out all the way to the Kenyan/Tanzanian border. The day will leave you with some time to rest, and an opportunity to explore the surrounding area. The infinite amount of plains and the snow-capped Kibo will be a welcoming place to relax.

Buffalo Camp has no cabins or built structures, not even toilet latrines, completely immersing yourself into the Kilimanjaro wilderness. There is good chance that you get to enjoy the campsite to yourself, a real treat on the busy mountain!

Day 5: Buffalo Camp to Third Cave Camp

  • Elevation:4030m to 3800m
  • Distance:9km.
  • Hiking time:4-5 hours
  • Habitat:Alpine Desert

Today will be a fairly short and easy day as you head up the Buffalo Ridge onto your next camp. Crossing numerous ribs and gullies, you’ll find that this part of the mountain is quieter, since the route isn’t traveled as much. The mountain wilderness surrounds you as you continue to trek east through the remote valleys on the slopes of Kibo. Enjoy the meditative silence and be prepared that your initial excitement of being on the mountain may be fading away and you may find the scenery a little repetitive. This was precisely the reason why you have chosen this longer hiking route – to get away from civilization and allow enough time to acclimatize to the thin air. Surely, your body will be feeling these benefits by now. The Third Cave campsite is named after a cave that sits nearby the camp, as was once used as accommodation for hikers back in the day. Once you arrive after a short hiking day, you may be met with an out of body experience as the clouds tend to hang around the camp. Weather permitting, Kibo’s majestic backdrop sits in your view as you take in the wonders of the mountain in this pristine area. Other than your Northern Circuit route, Third Cave is only used by some variations of the Rongai Route. Therefore, you might have the campsite again to yourself. Enjoy!

 Day 6:  Third Cave to School Hut

  • Elevation:3800m to 4800m
  • Distance:
  • Hiking time:3-4 hours
  • Habitat:Alpine Desert

Today you will be climbing from Third Cave to School Hut, your base camp for the final summit push. You may start to be feeling butterflies in anticipation of your big summit night. Within less than 24 hours, you’ll be standing on the top of Africa!

 The hike will be shorter today, but significant altitude height will be gained to acclimate you for the summit. Soon after leaving Third Cave, the landscape will become barren, and you may feel like you’re on another planet with the clouds sitting below you.

You’ll notice that the altitude can be difficult. While the trek doesn’t seem very steep, the lack of oxygen will make it feel otherwise. Do not be discouraged, and take as much time as you need! The views of the towering will motivate you as you take each step. Weather and cloud cover permitting, you have Kibo in your view the entire time. It’s still fairly early as you approach the School Hut campsite, so that you can get as much rest as possible before the exciting night ahead. Even though you may not be feeling hungry due to the altitude, try to eat as much as possible to gain strength for your summit push. After an early dinner, it’s time to get your gear ready for your early wake up, and to catch as much sleep as you can.  

Day 7: School Hut to Gillman’s Point to Stella Point to Crater Camp

  • Elevation: 4800 m/15,600 ft to 5896m/19,341 ft
  • Distance:5 km
  • Hiking Time:5-6 hours
  • Habitat: Artic

Today is an early start for the moment you’ve been waiting for – your final push to the top of Kibo. One of the benefits of staying overnight at Crater Camp is that you can conquer the top of Kilimanjaro in daylight rather than overnight. However, it will still be an early start just after sunrise, to leave enough time to explore the crater in the afternoon. And make sure to apply extra thick sunscreen and bring your sunglasses as the sun is getting ever more intense the higher you climb. Snacks are encouraged as well to maintain energy throughout the long day. After a relatively moderate start, the trail becomes steep and challenging as it joins with the Marangu.

After approximately an hour and a half slowly making your way up via a series of switchbacks that make the steep scree slopes easier to tackle, you will hit rockier terrain. As you scramble over up to hip-high boulders, be mindful of your steps as these so-called Jamaican Rocks can be slippery at times. After a while, the rocks become more moderate and easier to manage – a sign that the end is near. What satisfaction as you reach at the top of Kibo and a vast open crater expands in front of your eyes! From here, the path becomes very manageable as you continue along the crater rim to Stella Point– your highest point today before you’ll descend to Crater Camp.

Day 8: Crater Camp to Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp  

  • Elevation: 5896m/19,341 ft to 3200m/10,065
  • Distance:12 km/7 miles
  • Hiking Time:4-6 hours
  • Habitat: Artic /Moorland

If climbing all the way to Stella Point wasn’t enough, it’s time to scale the very top of Mount Kilimanjaro – Uhuru Peak. You will rise early to reach the summit by sunrise. However, while your body may be aching from the day before, it will be nowhere as challenging because the peak is only 150 meters (510 feet) of ascent away, and won’t take more than one or two hours at most. The opportunity to see the new day’s climbers and the sunrise from the summit is a privilege that you won’t soon forget. Take some pictures, pat yourself on the back, hug your companions and enjoy the glistening pink and orange sunrise hues overlooking the ice fields and glaciers.

 Day 9: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate

  • Elevation:3100m to 1700m
  • Distance:9km.
  • Hiking Time:3-4 hours
  • Habitat: Montane Forest

Today is your last day on the mountain. After breakfast, you will descend down to Mweka park gate walking across montane forest. This descent will take 3-4 hours. At the gate you will sign out and board the vehicle, ready for the transfer back to your hotel for your certificate presentation celebration.

Day 10: Departure – Tanzania

The day is left free to wind down after the trek before your flight home. After a good night’s rest at your hotel, you will take breakfast ready for the scheduled check-out by 10.00. (If you wish to remain in the hotel during the day, please advise us of this when you book your trip and we will inform you of the cost for day room which ends at 18:00hrs, and then make the booking on your behalf.)

If you have booked a transfer to the airport, you will be collected from your hotel and dropped off at the airport. For those travelers who have booked to go on safari, our Kilele Climb guide will be meeting you in the evening to provide you with a pre-safari briefing.

*Safari, Zanzibar and other add-ons are available if you wish to continue exploring Tanzania.

Standard Package Pricing

  • Price Rates Per Person in US$. The prices in other currencies are given for comparison only.
Hiking Route/Days
1 Pax
2 Pax
3 Pax
4 Pax
5 Pax
6 Pax
7 Pax
8 Pax
9+ Pax
9 Days Northern Circuit Route
$ 2,980
$ 2,710
$ 2,690
$ 2,670
$ 2,650
$ 2,610
$2,590
$ 2,550
$ 2,490

Deluxe Package Pricing

  • Price Rates Per Person in US$. The prices in other currencies are given for comparison only.
Hiking Route/Days
1 Pax
2 Pax
3 Pax
4 Pax
5 Pax
6 Pax
7 Pax
8 Pax
9+ Pax
9 Days Northern circuit Route
$3,895
$ 3,185
$ 3,165
$3,050
$ 3,040
$3,020
$2,945
$2,905
$2,980
Tanzanian Residents pay 80% of rates & East African Citizens pay 60% of rates.

INCLUDED IN THE PRICE:

  • Private transport to & from Kilimanjaro International airport to the hotel in Moshi/Arusha.
  • 2 nights of accommodation in Moshi/Arusha (before and after the climb bed and breakfast)
  • Return transportation from Moshi/from the starting/finishing point on the mountain.
  • Qualified guides with mountain crew
  • All national park fees
  • Hut/camping fees
  • 4 Season mountain tents
  • Double layered Sleeping Mats
  • Mess tent (for dining) Mini camping chairs/Tables/Candles
  • Rescue fees
  • Pulse oximeters & Portable oxygen tanks
  • First aid kit
  • 3 hot meals daily while on the mountain
  • Enough treated &filtered drinking water throughout the trek
  • Fair wages for the mountain crew as approved by the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority (KINAPA), Kilimanjaro Association of Tour Operators (KIATO)
  • Government taxes
  • Guides, porters, waiter, cook accommodation and entry fees on the mountain.

EXCLUDED FROM THE PRICE:

  • Meals and drinks not specified
  • Gear for your climb
  • Items of personal nature
  • Additional nights beyond the two standard hotel nights included
  • Visas
  • Portable flush toilet with a toilet tent is available for extra charge $90$ for entire trek.
  • Flights
  • Tips for guides, porters and cook (this is a guide to tipping on the mountain htt://www.kiliporters.org/ tipping_recommendations.php
  • Tipping on Kilimanjaro from the trekking group (not per climber)
  • Guides: 20$-30$ /day/guide
  • Cook: 15$-20$/ day
  • Porter: 7$-10$/day/porter

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