What is the difference between the Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route and the Northern Circuit Route?


There are many Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes to the top of Africa’s highest summit. However, for the most successful and breathtaking experiences, consider the Lemosho Route and the Northern Circuit Route.

the Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route

This post has compiled a comprehensive analysis of the two popular paths, and you can choose which of the two will take you to the top of your climbing dreams.

A Brief Overview of Climbing Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world and a dream adventure for many.

The journey is full of beautiful landscapes and the exhilaration when you finally make it to Uhuru Peak is like no other.

No matter whether you decide to climb the mountain via the Lemosho route or the Northern Circuit, preparation and knowing what you are getting yourself into are critical to the successful ascent.

Lemosho Route

The Lemosho Route is favoured for its picturesque views and high success rate, making it a popular choice for those looking to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Here are some quick facts:

  • Total Distance: 70 km / 43 miles
  • Duration: 7 or 8 days
  • Starting Point: Lemosho Gate
  • End Point: Mweka Gate
  • Summit Success Rate: High
  • Crowds: High

Northern Circuit Route

In contrast, the Northern Circuit Route offers a longer journey around the mountain, providing an unparalleled experience with less crowd and a very high success rate. Key details include:

  • Total Distance: 98 km / 61 miles
  • Duration: 9 days
  • Starting Point: Lemosho Gate
  • End Point: Mweka Gate
  • Summit Success Rate: Very high
  • Crowds: Low

Comparing Both the Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes

While both Kilimanjaro Routes start at Lemosho Gate and end at Mweka Gate, their journeys around Kilimanjaro offer different experiences:

Shared Paths

Initially, climbers on both routes share the same trail, diverging around the 4,000 m mark and meeting again near Uhuru Peak.

Route Divergence

The Lemosho Route diverges right to travel along the southern slope, while the Northern Circuit takes a left, exploring the northern slopes.

Distance and Duration

The Lemosho Route is available in 7 or 8-day variations, covering a distance of about 70 km.

The Northern Circuit, being the longest ascent route on Kilimanjaro, spans 9 days and covers 98 km. It is popular because of its higher success rate due to better acclimatization.

Steepness and Trail Difficulty

Lemosho includes the Barranco Wall, a steep section that might challenge those with a fear of heights.

The Northern Circuit is generally less steep, offering a more gradual ascent without the challenge of the Barranco Wall.

Crowds and Camaraderie

Lemosho sees higher traffic while providing opportunities for meeting other climbers.

The Northern Circuit’s lower foot traffic ensures a quieter climb, ideal for those seeking solitude.


Campsites on Lemosho are busier, while those on the Northern Circuit are quieter, offering a chance to enjoy the tranquillity of nature when Climbing Kilimanjaro.

Both routes offer unique camping experiences, from the bustling Barranco Camp to the serene POFU Camp exclusive to the Northern Circuit.

Scenery and Wildlife

Both Kilimanjaro Routes boast stunning scenery across rainforests, moorlands, and alpine deserts. The quieter Northern Circuit might offer better wildlife spotting opportunities due to its less-travelled northern slopes.

Acclimatization and Success Rates

Proper acclimatization is a prerequisite for a successful Kilimanjaro Summit. The Northern Circuit’s longer duration and “climb high, sleep low” opportunities significantly reduce the risk of altitude sickness, contributing to its higher summit success rate.

The Lemosho Route, while also offering a high success rate, benefits from an extra acclimatization day on its 8-day itinerary.

Select Your Path to Climb Kilimanjaro

In deciding between the Lemosho Route and the Northern Circuit Route, consider your preferences for duration, scenery, potential crowding, and acclimatization opportunities.

Both routes promise an ecstatic journey to Uhuru Peak, each with its unique advantages. Hence, regardless of your choice, proper preparation, including selecting the right Kilimanjaro Climbing Packages is essential for a safe and successful climb.

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