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The Grand Traverse is the most luxurious route on Kilimanjaro – ideal if you value privacy and authentic wilderness away from the crowds. It offers stunning 360° degree views of the peak and afar into Tanzania and Kenya. It is also one of the easiest routes with a very high summit success chance.

Starting in the west along the Shira Route, the Grand Traverse then circumvents the peak on the northern slopes, approaches the summit from the east and descends in the south. Together with the Northern Circuit, the Grand Traverse is the only route that circumvents the peak on the northern slopes, hence enabling the authentic wilderness experience.

The biggest difference to the Northern Circuit is that climbers on the Grand Traverse get driven up to a fairly high altitude of 3,400 meters (11,200 feet) on their first day, along the old Shira evacuation route. This makes the Grand Traverse a shorter and less challenging variation, typically completed in 8 days: 8-day Grand Traverse Itinerary.

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Hiking Routes
Grand Traverse
What is the Grand Traverse like?

The Grand Traverse is the most luxurious route to climb Kilimanjaro. It is ideal if you value privacy and authentic wilderness away from the crowds. It offers stunning 360° degree views of the peak. You'll also be able to peer across into Tanzania and Kenya.

Starting in the west along the Shira Route, the Grand Traverse then circumvents the peak on the northern slopes. It approaches the summit from the east and descends in the south. This provides you with an authentic wilderness experience.

The biggest difference with the Northern Circuit is that climbers on the Grand Traverse get driven up to a fairly high altitude of 3,400 meters (11,200 feet) on their first day, along with the old Shira evacuation route. This makes it a shorter and less challenging variation.

How long does it take to climb Kilimanjaro on the Grand Traverse?

This route is typically completed in 8 days: 8-day Grand Traverse Itinerary. Because of the gradual ascent and the ideal altitude profile, this is deemed to be one of the easiest routes to climb Kilimanjaro.

Furthermore, it also has the least amount of walking and climbing uphill.

If you are very fit or acclimatised, you can climb Mount Kilimanjaro in 7 days on the 7-day Grand Traverse. For an additional challenge and unique experience, you can combine the 8-day itinerary with an overnight stay at Crater Camp.

Would you recommend the Kilimanjaro Grand Traverse route?

Circumventing the peak on the northern slopes, the Grand Traverse is ideal for climbers who value privacy and authentic wilderness away from the crowds. It offers stunning 360° degree views of the peak and afar into Tanzania and Kenya.

It is one of the easiest routes that offers authentic wilderness as well as the least amount of climbing uphill.

If you want to maximize your summit success chance, then the Grand Traverse is one of your best options.

 

What are the advantages of the Grand Traverse?

The Grand Traverse route is the most luxurious of all climbs.

It is one of the easiest of all routes, offering plenty of opportunity for altitude acclimatization which results in a very high summit success chance.

It also offers lots of privacy and authentic wilderness as well as stunning 360° panoramic views of the peak.

What are the disadvantages of the Grand Traverse?

The scenery is special on Kilimanjaro, no matter which route you take. However, please be aware that the Grand Traverse misses two scenic highlights of the southern slopes: the Dendrosenecio forest (though you will still get to see a few Dendrosenecio trees) as well as the Barranco Wall (a blessing in disguise if you suffer from vertigo). This is a small sacrifice for your luxurious and relatively easy climbing experience away from the crowds in authentic wilderness.

What is the altitude profile of the Grand Traverse?

The Grand Traverse has a good altitude profile of hiking high and sleeping low. Furthermore, the ascent is very gradual and extended over multiple days.

Spending 6 days at high altitude prior to your summit attempt will give you a very high summit success chance – another reason why we like this route. Furthermore, it will also decrease your risk of getting altitude sickness.

On the first day, however, climbers on the Grand Traverse get driven up to a fairly high altitude of 3,400 meters (11,200 feet), along the old Shira evacuation route. This makes the Grand Traverse a shorter and less challenging variation than the Northern Circuit. If you are sensitive to high altitudes, it is possible that you feel the rapid ascent on your first day. However, symptoms such as headaches or nausea are usually not severe and don’t last for long.

 

Is the Grand Traverse dangerous?

The biggest cause of fatality on Kilimanjaro is altitude sickness. Therefore, the safest route will be the one which allows for the best acclimatization.

Grand Traverse on Kilimanjaro is one of the longest routes. It offers plenty of opportunities to climb high and sleep low. This is the best way to get your body used to the high altitude and reduce the severity of altitude sickness. Furthermore, it also ascends very gradually over multiple days. Therefore, it also has some of the highest summit success rates.

Besides acclimatization, the Grand Traverse avoids the dangerous Western Breach as well as the Barranco Wall. Therefore, the Grand Traverse could be deemed the safest route together with the Northern Circuit and the Rongai Route.

How difficult is it to climb Kilimanjaro via the Grand Traverse?

The Grand Traverse is one of the easiest routes with a very high summit success chance.

This route has the least amount of ascent to start with.

Since it's also a longer route and ascends gradually over multiple days, it offers plenty of time for good acclimatization.

Do you recommend the 7-day Grand Traverse?

The 7-day Grand Traverse route is one of the easiest routes on Kilimanjaro.

It has the least amount of walking and climbing uphill. Because of this and the gradual ascent, it has a high summit success chance.

 

Do you recommend the 8-day Grand Traverse route?

For better altitude acclimatization, the 8-day Grand Traverse route is ideal to allow more time to get used to the high altitude prior to attempting the final summit push.

It offers plenty of opportunities to hike high and sleep low in combination with a slow and very gradual ascent over multiple days.

When do you recommend the 9-day Grand Traverse?
The 9-day Grand Traverse has an ideal altitude profile with a very high summit success rate. We recommend this route if you have more time and you really enjoy climbing.
In this case, the 9-day Northern Circuit route will provide you with even more varied experience as you'll ascend slowly through the rainforest on your first hiking day.
Do you recommend combining Grand Traverse with Crater Camp?

Climbing the Grand Traverse in combination with Crater Camp offers privacy and unspoilt wilderness. It circumvents the peak on the rarely visited northern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro and includes a thrilling overnight stay at Crater Camp next to one of the last remaining glaciers on the mountain.

The 7-day Grand Traverse With Crater Cramp itinerary is an extremely challenging climb with very long hiking days. It has been designed to be combined with a pre-acclimatization climb of Mount Meru. It is imperative that climbers have sufficiently pre-acclimatized to the high altitude prior to staying overnight at Crater Camp.

For climbers who are extremely confident of their physical abilities, it may be advisable to include a detour to Lava Tower for better acclimatization to the high altitude. This detour as per the 7-day Grand Traverse With Crater Camp & Lava Tower itinerary, however, will also make the climb even more physically challenging.

To make this itinerary at least a little less strenuous, please consider the 8-day Grand Traverse With Crater Camp extension. This route is also designed to be combined with a climb of Mount Meru and is normally offered as a combination. However, for very fit climbers, it is possible to combine the 8-Day Grand Traverse with a detour via Lava Tower. This also makes the trip more challenging.

For climbers not interested in climbing Mount Meru, please extend your Kilimanjaro tour by an additional day or two as per the 9-day Grand Traverse With Crater Camp or 10-day Northern Circuit With Crater Camp itineraries. This allows more time for your body to get used to the thin air prior to staying overnight at over 5,700 meters (18,800 ft) of altitude. These options are also worth looking into if you are less confident of your ability to endure long climbing days. In particular, the 10-day Northern Circuit offers a more manageable climb.

How popular is the Mount Kilimanjaro Grand Traverse route?

The Kilimanjaro Grand Traverse route is off-the-beaten-track and not very popular. This is because it's only promoted by a few niche and high-end operators.

As a result, it's an ideal route for climbers who value privacy and are looking for an authentic, luxurious wilderness experience away from the crowds.

Map of Grand Traverse

Comparison
What is the difference between Northern Circuit and the Grand Traverse?

The Northern Circuit and the Grand Traverse are the longest routes on Kilimanjaro. They both circumvent the peak on the northern slope and offer 360° degree views of the peak and afar. It offers some of the most diverse and spectacular scenery on Kilimanjaro.

The biggest difference between the two routes is that climbers on the Grand Traverse get driven up to a fairly high altitude of 3,400 meters (11,200 feet) on their first day, along the old Shira evacuation route. This makes the Grand Traverse a shorter and less challenging variation. The route is typically completed in 8 days: 8-day Grand Traverse Itinerary.

What is the safest hiking route on Mount Kilimanjaro?

The biggest cause of fatality on Kilimanjaro is altitude sickness. Therefore, the safest route will be the one which allows for the best acclimatization.

The Northern Circuit and Grand Traverse are the longest routes on Kilimanjaro. They also offer plenty of opportunities to climb high and sleep low. This is the best way to get your body used to the high altitude and reduce the severity of altitude sickness. Therefore, they have the highest summit success rates.

However, on any route, it is most important that you don't push beyond your limits and follow an experienced guide who will assist with descent if required. If you do so, all the popular routes may be considered more or less equally safe or risky.

Besides acclimatization, the routes that avoid the dangerous Western Breach are definitely safer than the routes that don't. To go even further, some routes also avoid the Barranco Wall. Therefore, the Northern Circuit, the Grand Traverse and the Rongai route could be deemed safest.

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