Kilimanjaro (c) Yoni Lerner Exped Detail Hero


summit Africa's highest peak

DATES: 08 Oct17 Oct 2017 TEAM SIZE: 12 COST: £2499

An absolute adventure world classic… but with a twist. One of the world’s seven summits, Kilimanjaro is undoubtedly one of the most well trodden peaks in the world. This Secret Compass expedition takes you via one of the longest, most beautiful but least trekked routes to the top of Africa’s highest mountain, meaning you won’t just be another tourist ticking Kilimanjaro off the list. By exploring one of its alternative routes, you’ll swerve the crowds and discover a face of Kilimanjaro to which few are treated.

Kilimanjaro sign post on trek (c) Kuruman
Another day continuing the hike up mountain kilimanjaro with the Secret Compass team (c) Stig Nygaard 2
The Secret compass team wake up early to embark on another day of trekking on the Mount Kilimanjaro expeditionThe Secret compass team wake up early to embark on another day of trekking on the Mount Kilimanjaro expedition
Fantastic sky at sunset over Tanzania overlooked from Mount Kilimanjaro (c) Roman Boed
Trekking continues up mount Kilimanjaro
A tent is pitched for the night on Mount Kilimanjaro
Fantastic sky at sunset over Tanzania overlooked from Mount Kilimanjaro

The aim of this classic expedition is to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa and the world’s tallest free-standing mountain via the little-visited Northern Circuit Route.

Instead of ‘ticking the list’ with an ascent of Kilimanjaro, we have developed a variation on the standard ascents with a route that wraps around the northern side of the mountain taking in Shira plateau, Shira ridge and finally Uhuru peak before descending by the Mweka route.


  • Summit the highest peak in Africa, one of the Seven Summits.
  • Avoid the crowds found on the more frequented trails.
  • Witness Kilimanjaro’s rapidly retreating glacial ice fields.
  • Cross the UNESCO listed Shira plateau.
  • Trek through a variety of volcanic landscapes.


The journey

One of the longest, most beautiful and least trekked routes up Kilimanjaro, the Northern Circuit Route passes through lush rainforest, moorland and scree slopes across the UNESCO listed Shira plateau. A longer, quieter route means more acclimatisation time, increasing chances of both summit success and large animal sightings.

Uhuru Peak

Kilimanjaro rises 5,100m from its base, making it the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. Its highest point, the 5,895m Uhuru Peak, offers stunning views over the surrounding landscape. Meaning “Freedom”, Uhuru is situated on Kibo, the highest of Kilimanjaro’s volcanic cones. The last major eruption from Kibo occurred 360,000 years ago and the last volcanic activity 200 years ago, forming the ash pit visible from Uhuru.

Kilimanjaro National Park

Encompassing a hugely varied area of Tanzania, the UNESCO protected Kilimanjaro National Park is home to elusive antelopes, buffaloes and occasionally elephants – by choosing a quieter route for the Secret Compass ascent, we hope to maximise our chances of spotting wildlife. As well as its eponymous and iconic volcano, the park is known for its volcanic Lake Chala, coffee farms, pure spring waters and the local Chagga people who make their lives around the mountain.

A classic with a twist

Instead of ‘ticking the list’ with an ascent of Kilimanjaro, we have developed a variation on the standard ascents with a route that wraps around the northern side of the mountain taking in Shira plateau, Shira ridge and finally Uhuru peak before descending by the Mweka route.

Secret Compass runs expeditions with framework itineraries, rather than guided tours with set daily plans. Read more about Our Approach. The following is the outline plan for this Kilimanjaro expedition – the ‘substance’ rather than the specifics. A fuller itinerary is provided in the Kilimanjaro Expedition Handbook which is available on request or upon application to join the team.

Teammates arrive

All teammates fly into Tanzania and meet at the team hotel in Arusha for an expedition briefing and welcome meal. Entering the National Park at the Londorossi Gate, the trek starts from the Lemosho Glades, inhabited by buffalo, elephant and other wildlife.

On expedition

Gently ascend over the next five days to maximise acclimatisation time and increase the chance of summit success. Trek through lush rainforest, moorland and scree slopes across the UNESCO listed Shira plateau before reaching Uhuru Peak at 5,895m.

Goal achieved

The descent is much faster taking less than two days via the Mweka route to descend to Mweka Gate. Sign the summit register before a transfer back to the hotel in Arusha for showers and a celebratory meal. The expedition officially ends after breakfast the next day with team members free to depart or extend their stay.

Secret Compass expeditions are achievable by anyone with a healthy lifestyle and a good level of general fitness. Team members should be willing to be part of a team working together to achieve the goal of the expedition. As a team member, you should have an adventurous and robust spirit.

At a basic level, you should be comfortable jogging for at least 45 minutes and walking for eight hours in the hills, carrying 15kg for three consecutive days. The biggest challenge on this expedition will be altitude gain as Kilimanjaro is the world’s tallest free-standing peak.

Teammates must be comfortable with the following.

  • Trek: up to 20km
  • Carry: up to 6kg (personal daysack)
  • Terrain: through varied terrain with the possibility of ice
  • Climate: temperatures ranging from 25C to -20C (summit morning)
  • Age: 21+

Applicants will receive a Handbook with further expedition information. View Secret Compass’s suggested Training Plan and get in touch with any fitness, health, training or kit questions that remain. Teammates who arrive without meeting the agreed minimum fitness requirements can jeopardise themselves and the expedition’s goal so do take training seriously, prepare as appropriate and arrive fit and ready to go!


In Arusha, at the start and end of the expedition, the team will stay in a mid-range hotel where a small bag of items not needed on the mountain can be left at your own risk. Throughout the trek, the team will camp in technical mountain tents supplied by Secret Compass. Accommodation, both tented and in hotels, is on a twin-share basis.


In towns the team will eat well in local restaurants. On the mountain there will be high calorie, tasty food with two hot meals a day. Dietary requirements can usually be provided for but please discuss your requirements in advance with Secret Compass and provide full details on your Application Form. We recommend bringing one of your favourite cereal/snack bars per day as a morale boost.


The team will use 4×4 vehicles to access the trailhead and to return to Arusha after the trek. The rest of the expedition will be on foot with porter support.


A full kit list will be supplied to applicants in the Expedition Handbook. Secret Compass will supply tents. Teammates should consider their kit in good time in case buying, hiring or shipping is required. This expedition will require team members to carry all of their personal kit. Read your Handbook and factor into your packing (and training schedule) any additional space or weight as necessary. As a Secret Compass team member you get discounts at a number of specialist stores, the details of which are provided upon booking.


  • Secret Compass expedition leader
  • Local guides, porters and drivers.
  • All meals.
  • All transport as outlined in the itinerary.
  • All specialist and safety equipment.
  • All accommodation.
  • All local permits.

Not included

  • International flights.
  • Visas.
  • Transfers from airport to hotel and return.
  • Local airport taxes and international visas.
  • Tips to local guides (discretionary but appreciated).
  • Beverages and any costs of a personal nature.
  • Personal equipment (your Handbook will contain a kit list).

On application, potential teammates will receive a detailed Expedition Handbook. Here are some expedition-specific questions and our general FAQ will answer many other questions. Get in touch if your question remains unanswered.

I’m a vegetarian. Can I join?

Teammates with dietary requirements are welcome to apply for this expedition and should state their specific requirements when applying. The food situation is outlined in the Practicalities tab above.

Can I arrive a day late?

As The Plan outlines, there is a chain of transport to get teammates to the trailhead at Londorossi Gate and back to Arusha at the end of the expedition and so start and end dates are not flexible. Please consider a Custom expedition if the team dates don’t work for you.

Can I charge all my electricals?

This will be very challenging with no access to power once the trekking section begins. Please ensure that you are self-sufficient in terms of charging your appliances by bringing things like spare batteries, lightweight solar panels or power packs to avoid frustration.

What’s the route?

The route that your team will take on this expedition is called the Northern Circuit Route. It is quieter than many other options. It takes in Lemosho, Shira Plateau, Gilman’s Point and the Mweka descent. 

How can I find out more?

Apply for this expedition team using the button on this page to receive your Expedition Handbook with fuller details. The Application page explains the joining process. Secret Compass is then on hand to answer any questions or to firm up your place on the team.

The Journal

Terms and Conditions
  1. One entry per person.
  2. Closing date for entries is 12:00 AUG 3.
  3. Entrants must be at least 18 years old.
  4. The prize includes: two weekend tickets to attend The Adventure Travel Film Festival in North London The prize does not include: meals, paying workshops, camping equipment or travel expenses.
  5. Getting to the venue in London is the responsibility of the winner.
  6. The prize is only available from 11th – 13th August 2017.
  7. The prize cannot be exchanged for a cash alternative.
  8. The prize cannot be sold or used by anyone other than the winner.
  9. The prize winner can choose who they will give the second ticket to and all of the terms and conditions here apply to that person.
  10. The promoter reserves the right to provide an alternative prize of similar value should the specified prize become unavailable for any reason.
  11. Neither the Promoter nor any other person or party associated with this promotion shall be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever suffered (including, but not limited to, indirect or consequential loss or damage) or personal injury or death suffered or sustained in connection with either participation in this promotion or with any prizes offered.
  12. The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the terms of this prize and without notice in the unlikely event of a major catastrophe, war, earthquake or any anticipated or alleged breach of any applicable law or regulation or any similar event or if circumstances arise outside of its control.
  13. The winner will be selected randomly by Secret Compass on 04 AUG 2017.
  14. Attempts will be made to notify the winner using the email address provided at the time of entry. If the promoter, having used reasonable efforts, is unable to contact the winner, then the prize is forfeited and further draw(s) may be conducted.
  15. The winner may be required to take part in reasonable publicity as specified by the Promoter.
  16. The Promoter cannot be held liable for IT system failures or delays or loss of entries.
  17. The organiser reserves the right to cancel this competition, or to change any condition of this competition, without notice.
  18. Acceptance of these terms and conditions is a condition of entry.
  19. No purchase necessary.