7-day Rongai Route Recommendation & Best Offers | 100% ethical

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The Rongai Route is the only route on Kilimanjaro that starts in the north near the border to Kenya, the furthest away from an airport of all Kilimanjaro National Park gates. This makes it much less visited than other routes, providing for a true wilderness experience during your summit approach.

Descending along the Marangu Route in the south east, is furthermore offers a cross-over experience with views of the north, east and south of Mount Kilimanjaro and its surroundings.

While the Rongai Route can be completed through a short and direct approach of the summit in only 5 days, we recommend this 7-day itinerary with a detour to Mawenzi in the east of Kibo. This allows more time to acclimatize to the thin air and improves your summit success chance.

The Rongai Route also is a good choice during rainy season as the northern slopes tend to attract less rain than the southern slopes. However, there is no guarantee. You might be lucky and have a mostly dry climb, or it might still rain a lot even on the northern slopes. There’s really no way to predict the amount of rain at the time of your booking.

If solitude is what attracts you to the Rongai Route, and you are open to consider a longer climb of 8 days or more, then we recommend you to also consider the 8-day Grand Traverse or 8-day Northern Circuit for a more varied scenery and beneficial altitude profile.

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Day-By-Day Itinerary

Day 1
  • Pre-climb briefing

    Your guide or local Tour Operator staff will meet you at your accommodation for your pre-climb briefing and gear check, usually in the late afternoon or evening prior to the start of your climb. Your Tour Operator will advice the exact time of the briefing once they know your arrival time (as well as the arrival times of any other climbers in your group).

    Please make sure to arrive latest by mid-afternoon on the day before the start of your climb to leave enough time for your briefing. If you only arrive in the evening or overnight, your Tour Operator will make every effort to arrange the briefing early the next morning for you.

    Day 1
    • Transfer to the Kilimanjaro National Park gate
    • Moshi (831m)  →  Rongai Gate (1,945m)
    • 1,114m
    • 98km

    Your Kilimanjaro adventure begins when you depart Moshi to drive about an hour to the Marangu park gate for registration. Here, national park fees and paperwork formalities are taken care of. After everything is accounted for, it’s time to drive approximately 1 and a half hours to your starting point. The views accompanying the drive are serene as you pass through the village of Nale Moru, located on the Northeast side of Kilimanjaro.

    A couple of bumps on the road towards the end will wake you right up as you approach the starting point, the Rongai gate, where you begin your exciting once-in-a-lifetime trek to the roof of Africa.

    • Maize fields and pine forest
    • Rongai Gate (1,945m)  →  Simba Camp (2,671m)
    • 726m
    • 7km

    The hike today will be easy going, as it takes you through small winding paths. The scenery is spectacular as you cross through maize fields and enter the pine forests. Your senses will be overwhelmed with the splashes of green and sounds of electric birdlife. The climb is gentle through the pine forest, and takes you along the countryside. You soon arrive to your first camp, the Simba Camp. With no facilities other than some public toilets, this truly is a one-of-a-kind wilderness experience!

    Day 2
    • A long day in heathland with stunning Kibo views
    • Simba Camp (2,671m)  →  Kikelewa Camp (3,600m)
    • 929m
    • 16km

    Today’s trek will offer stunning views of Kibo and will be a long day, but significant in terms of altitude gained beginning the process of acclimatization. The trail is steep and dusty, and first signs of altitude sickness may start to be felt. The pace will be ‘pole pole’ (slow) and you will have an ample amount of time to take during the hike.

    The views start to open up as you enter into moorland habitat. You begin to feel like you’re on the mountain, and it’s quite a majestic feeling! The heathers begin to shrink and trees become sparser as the vegetation changes from mountain forest to alpine heath. Your hike will have plenty of opportunities to rest and recharge, and while you do so it’s a great opportunity to snap photos of the Kibo backdrop.

    While the first part of the day is more challenging, the second half provides relief as it turns into a more gradual increase towards the camp. Dinner and overnight is spent at the Kikelewa Camp perched upon the mountainside. Located in the sheltered valley, the camp hosts views of giant scenecios nearby, but be sure to bundle up at night as temperatures begin to drop drastically.

    Day 3
    • Welcome to alpine desert at the base of Mawenzi
    • Kikelewa Camp (3,600m)  →  Mawenzi Tarn Camp (4,315m)
    • 715m
    • 3km

    After a long hiking day yesterday, today's hike will be short but steep. Walking through the grassy slopes, you are met with amazing views of the wilderness area. As you ascend, you will start to feel the altitude today, so be sure to take your time and follow your guide who will help set a pace that works best for you. There is no rush on Kilimanjaro!

    As you approach the next camp, you’ll start to notice that the vegetation becomes sparser. By the time you arrive to the Mawenzi Tarn Camp, there’s very rare glimpses of green. What the camp lacks in vegetation, it makes up for with it’s location. The campsite is located at the base of Mawenzi, one of the three peaks of Kilimanjaro, and is used less often than other campsites. Sitting under the towering spires of Mawenzi, you’ll be nothing short of in awe by your surroundings. Lucky for you, the afternoon is spent exploring the area which also helps in your acclimatization process.  Enjoy the remote locality and beautiful sunset hues that splash against the peaks.

    Day 4
    • Acclimatization day at leisure
    • Mawenzi Tarn Camp (4,315m)
    Day 5
    • Across the saddle and into thin air
    • Mawenzi Tarn Camp (4,315m)  →  Kibo Hut (4,720m)
    • 405m
    • 9km

    Today you will be crossing the so-called saddle, a lunar landscape between Mawenzi and Kibo in the alpine desert zone devoid of vegetation. You may start to be feeling butterflies, since tonight is the exciting summit night. The day will be short but crucial in helping to acclimate. As you cross the saddle, it will take approximately 5-6 hours to reach your base camp for the final summit push.

    The thin air will be challenging today, so it is important to walk slowly to help with acclimatization. The mentality will be slow and steady. The rest of the day is spent resting in preparation for your exciting night ahead. Try to catch a few hours of sleep and eat as much as you can, the energy will be well-used the following day! You will be woken a couple of hours later for a day you won’t soon forget.

    Day 6
    • Final summit push through the night and sunrise on top of Africa
    • Kibo Hut (4,720m)  →  Uhuru Peak (5,895m)
    • 1,175m
    • 6km

    After getting as much rest as possible, it’s time for your exciting early start. You will be woken up around 11:00 pm, and will have breakfast waiting for you. The reason for the (very) early start is to try and make the summit by sunrise. Try to eat as much as possible, making sure that you have energy for the thrilling day ahead. Your day pack should be ready with rain gear, hand warmers, snacks, sunscreen and sunglasses for the summit, and of course, your camera.

    As your summit ascent begins, your pre-summit goal is to reach Gillman’s point. The scree-sloped Kibu is steep in the beginning, but the switchbacks will make the climb easier for you. As the oxygen becomes thinner, you’ll begin to feel the effects of the higher altitude. Take your time and focus on taking the trek step-by-step. After approximately an hour and a half you will hit rockier terrain, with some boulders to walk over. These rocks are called the Jamaican Rocks, and can be slippery at times so be mindful of your steps as you cross over them.

    The night will be cold with frigid temperatures and altitude sickness may begin to hit you. Your final push to the top may seem endless, but rest assured that it will come to an end. What satisfaction as you reach Gilman’s point at the top of Kibo! From here, it is only an hour and a half or so until Uhuru Peak and you will have the opportunity to rest and refuel a bit before the final haul. As you look across the starlit sky, you have the outline of Mawenzi glaring back at you. Take in the cosmic sights and congratulate yourself for making it thus far! The worst has been accomplished.

    As you turn Southwest, you start to push through the steady but shallow trail along the crater rim and past Stella Point to arrive at the breathtaking Uhuru Peak. While it’s a very gradual ascent, the thin air will make it challenging and each step will take all your focus and energy. Dawn is approaching, take some pictures, pat yourself on the back, and enjoy the glistening pink and orange sunrise hues overlooking the icefields and glaciers. The rolling clouds splash against the noble beauty of Kibo – it’s a sight you won’t soon forget.

    • Half way down into thicker air
    • Uhuru Peak (5,895m)  →  Horombo Hut (3,720m)
    • -2,175m
    • 15km

    You’ve made it! Congratulations are in order as you’ve conquered an impressive feat. It’s time for hugs and photos, as you revel in elation with your loved ones. You’ll remember this feeling forever.

    After you take in the sights, it’s time to return back since you can’t remain too long in the altitude. The trek begins back to Gilman’s point, where you then head back down the Jamaican Rocks and scree-laced slopes of Kibo. As you make your way down, you may very well find that the descent is tough on your knees, which will by now be feeling the impact of your climb up this formidable mountain. To ease the strain on your knees, walking poles are highly recommended.

    A hearty lunch is waiting for you at the Kibo Huts – you may have forgotten about your appetite with all the excitement swirling that morning! There are opportunities to rest before the second part of the hike, to allow the porters to pack and regain some energy on your part.

    Finally, it’s time to head down to the Horombo Huts, the final campsite of the day. The long day may seem daunting, but it will in fact become easier as you descend since the air becomes richer in that precious oxygen you’ve been missing! The dinner that night is a lively affair, with a sparkle in everyone’s eyes and memories being recounted.

    Day 7
    • All the way back down through the forest
    • Horombo Hut (3,720m)  →  Marangu Gate (1,879m)
    • -1,841m
    • 19km

    As you wake up, you’re coming off a high of excitement from the day prior. While you feel accomplished, you still have one more exciting day to finish your trek. The trail down to Marangu Gate drops at a steady gradient, your knees may need the support of trekking poles from the intense day before. For your last day on the mountain, you enjoy a lovely lunch at the Mandara Huts. This is the last meal with the trekking team who will undoubtedly become your friends, so be sure to enjoy your time together.

    The last haul of your trip will take you through the lush rainforest, which is a treat! You are reintroduced to the sounds of birds, troops of monkeys and colorful scenery. Be sure to take in the charming senses of the mountain one last time. The rich oxygen doesn’t hurt either! Once you arrive to the Marangu Gate, you are presented with your certificates, and it’s time for the emotional goodbyes to your mountain crew. Please note that tipping your mountain crew typically occurs at this point, which is customary for the last day.

    • Transfer to your hotel
    • Marangu Gate (1,879m)  →  Moshi (831m)
    • -1,048m
    • 39km

    After your celebratory Marangu Gate photos, you will make your way to your hotel in Moshi for a warm shower. A car will be ready for your pick-up and will whisk you away back to civilisation. The scenic drive back to Moshi takes you through coffee and banana plantations. Arriving at your hotel, you’ve finished the magical journey, and it’s time to sift through photos, brag to your friends, and reminisce fondly on those life-long memories you’ve just made.

    More info about the 7-day Rongai Route

    Deciding Whether To Go
    Comfort & Facilities
    Where do I sleep on Mount Kilimanjaro?

    Where you sleep on Mount Kilimanjaro depends on your hiking route and climbing package. On all but the Marangu route, you will sleep in tents at designated campsites. Your tour operator will typically organize your sleeping tent and mattress, whereby the quality of tents ranges from cheap locally produced via high-quality imported winter mountaineering tents (mid-range offers) to luxurious walk-in size tents with proper frame beds (VIP offers).

    The Marangu Route offers shared hut accommodation with dormitory-style bunk beds. We'd rather recommend you a high-quality package on any other route if you prefer comfort and privacy.

    Choosing Your Itinerary
    What is the Rongai Route on Mount Kilimanjaro like?

    The Rongai Route is the only route on Kilimanjaro that starts in the north near the border to Kenya, the furthest away from an airport of all Kilimanjaro National Park gates. This makes it much less visited than other routes, providing for a true wilderness experience during your summit approach.

    The Rongai Route descends along the Marangu Route in the south east, providing for a cross-over experience with views of the north, east and south of Mount Kilimanjaro and its surroundings.

    While the Rongai Route can be completed through a short and direct approach of the summit in only 5 days, or sometimes extended over 6 days, we recommend the longer 7-day Rongai Route Itinerary with a detour to Mawenzi in the east of Kibo. This allows more time to acclimatize to the thin air and improves your summit success chance.

    What are the key differences between the routes on Mount Kilimanjaro?

    The hiking routes on Mount Kilimanjaro vary by length, duration, difficulty, scenery, altitude profile, accessibility, and (lack of) facilities. The better a route scores on all these criteria, the more popular it is. Popularity is great if you like to share your experience with many other climbers and make lots of new friends. It's also great if you're looking for an affordable climbing package. If solitude and wilderness is what you're looking for, then the most popular routes may not be your best choice.

    Which is the best Kilimanjaro hiking route for altitude acclimatization?

    The best routes for altitude acclimatization allow you to climb high during the day and sleep low at night. Climbing high during the daytime gets your body used to the high altitude. By sleeping at a lower elevation during the night, your body has enough time to take a break from the lack of oxygen associated with higher elevations. You should also ascend slowly over multiple days so that your body can acclimatize better.

    7-day Machame, 8-day Lemosho, 8-day Grand Traverse and 9-day Northern Circuit (including acclimatization hike to Lava Tower) are all excellent routes for altitude acclimatization that allow you to hike high, sleep low and ascend slowly over multiple days.

    Which Kilimanjaro route has the the highest summit success chance?

    The Kilimanjaro routes with the highest summit success chance are those with the best altitude profile so that you can acclimatize to the thin air before attempting your final summit push. Climbing high during the day and sleeping low at night is ideal. Furthermore, it's important to ascend slowly over multiple days so that your body has more time to get used to the high altitude.

    8-day Machame, 8-day Lemosho, 8-day Grand Traverse and 9-day Northern Circuit (including acclimatization hike to Lava Tower) are all excellent routes for altitude acclimatization that allow you to hike high, sleep low and ascend slowly over multiple days. With the right preparation and the right guide, these routes all have a summit success chance of close to 100%.

    How do I go about choosing my best Kilimanjaro route?

    To choose the best hiking route for your Kilimanjaro climb, it is important to assess your personal preferences and priorities:

    • Do you prefer the most stunning scenery or authentic wilderness away from the crowds?
    • Do you prefer a climb with least amount of walking and easy slopes, or are you looking for a bigger physical challenge?
    • Do you have time constraints, or are you OK to take a longer route of 8 days (or more) in order to maximize your summit success chance?
    • Do you have budget constraints, or do you prefer to pay a premium for a longer climb, a private tailor-made arrangement (as opposed to an open group climb), and/or a luxurious climb off-the-beaten track?

    Please contact us for a tailor-made recommendation.

    Which Kilimanjaro route do you most recommend?

    For most climbers who prefer to scale the mountain when the weather is sunny and dry, and to maximize your summit success chance without having had prior high altitude experience, our most recommended routes are:

    • 8-day Lemosho Route: Best scenery and easy to join an open group climb, as long as you don't mind the crowds
    • 8-day Machame Route: Easiest route with best scenery, as long as you don't mind the crowds
    • 8-day Grand Traverse: Easiest route in authentic wilderness, as long as you don't mind missing some scenic highlights
    • 9-day Northern Circuit: A somewhat more difficult alternative to the Grand Traverse (similar to Lemosho), yet with more opportunity to acclimatize and more scenic variety compared to the Grand Traverse

    Arguably, 8 or 9 days on the mountain may sound just a bit too long. If you prefer a group climb, you will also be somewhat limited in choice of affordable options for the above routes. So if either time or budget is a constraint, then we recommend:

    • 7-day Machame Route: Most popular route with great scenery and ideal profile for altitude acclimatization (similiar to Lemosho, just shorter)
    • 7-day Rongai Route: Authentic wilderness away from the crowds. However, the scenery and profile is not as good as the Machame Route.
    Finding Your Best Offer
    Guides & Operators
    How many guides will there be for my group when climbing Kilimanjaro?

    When climbing Kilimanjaro, you must have at most 2 climbers per guide, and at least 2 guides for groups of 2 climbers or more. This ensures that there will always be enough guides to assist climbers who require descent, while at the same time allowing all other climbers to continue their summit ascent safely.

    The minimum guide-to-climber ratios are stipulated by Kilimanjaro National Park regulations and apply to all climbs booked via Fair Voyage. So for every group, there will always be one lead guide, and we have classified all other guides as assistant guides.

    Please beware that guides and companies operating illegally on Kilimanjaro may not adhere to these minimum ratios, which can lead to dangerous life threatening situations. While it may be tempting to save costs by booking with a low-budget operator, your financial savings may come at the cost of your own safety.

    Minimum ratio of Kilimanjaro climbers per guide for all climbs booked via Fair Voyage:
    1 climber1 guide
    2 climbers2 guides
    3 climbers2 guides
    4 climbers2 guides
    5 climbers3 guides
    6 climbers3 guides
    7 climbers4 guides
    8 climbers4 guides
    9 climbers5 guides
    10 climbers5 guides
    11 climbers6 guides
    12 climbers6 guides
    Open Group Tours
    When joining a Kilimanjaro group climb, can I customize it to make it cheaper?

    When joining an open group trek to climb Kilimanjaro, it is not possible to downgrade the package to make it cheaper. For example, you might not require emergency oxygen or a dining tent that are included in the climb package. However, the cost of these items is already factored into the price paid by other climbers. It wouldn't be fair to them if they would be required to pay more, and lead to friction in your climbing group. In case of emergency, of course your guide would use the emergency oxygen paid for by other climbers also for your safety benefit. Other climbers may be annoyed about you getting a free ride at their cost.

    However, to the extent allowed by Kilimanjaro National Park regulations, it is always possible to downgrade and fully customize a private group climb. This may help you save a lot of costs if you are a group of at least 5 climbers booking together. If you are a solo or couple traveller, please note it would almost always be cheaper to join a higher-quality group climb, then organize your own lower-quality budget climb.

    When joining a Kilimanjaro group climb, can I go my own pace?

    When joining an open group to climb Kilimanjaro, please note that you will have to adjust your walking speed to that of others, which typically means the pace of the slowest person in your group. It is not uncommon for this to create some frustrations amongst group members. Faster climbers would prefer to go ahead and take less frequent breaks, while the slowest person may feel pressured to walk faster.

    When booking a group trek, please expect that you will need to adjust to the pace and needs of the entire group. Furthermore, you will not be able to adjust your itinerary spontaneously (unless needed), such as shorten your climb by a day if you feel that you can go faster. While there will always be a sufficiently high guide to client ratio to assist with early descent if needed, groups will not split up to accommodate the preference of some climbers to walk faster than others.

    If you prefer more flexibility during your climb to set your own pace and adjust your itinerary while climbing, please contact us for private climbing packages.

    Where do I sleep on Mount Kilimanjaro?

    Where you sleep on Mount Kilimanjaro depends on your hiking route and climbing package. On all but the Marangu route, you will sleep in tents at designated campsites. Your tour operator will typically organize your sleeping tent and mattress, whereby the quality of tents ranges from cheap locally produced via high-quality imported winter mountaineering tents (mid-range offers) to luxurious walk-in size tents with proper frame beds (VIP offers).

    The Marangu Route offers shared hut accommodation with dormitory-style bunk beds. We'd rather recommend you a high-quality package on any other route if you prefer comfort and privacy.

    Preparing Your Trip
    Getting started
    What are the next steps once I've booked my Kilimanjaro climb?

    Once you've booked your Kilimanjaro climb, if not sooner, it is important that you take these steps:

    1. Take out travel insurance

    Travel insurance is mandatory to participate in climbs booked via Fair Voyage (read more here). To protect your financial investment in case of cancellation due to illness or other unforeseen changes, it is best to take out your insurance (that should cover cancellations) as soon as you've booked your Tour. We recommend the travel insurance by World Nomads which has good coverage at affordable prices. You can easily apply for it online within few minutes (get it now).

    2. Book your flight

    To maximize your chances of finding a convenient & affordable flight, it's best to book your flight as soon as you've booked your climb. Kilimanjaro International Airport is conveniently located within 20-60 minutes drive of most hotels in Moshi and Arusha that are commonly used as a base to climb Kilimanjaro. It is best to arrive at least 2 nights before the start of your climb and to depart a day after you finish your climb. If constrained by time, it is also possible – but not recommendable – to arrive on the evening prior to the start of your climb, and to depart on the evening of your last climbing day.

    3. Make sure your passport will be valid for 6 months

    Visas can be obtained upon arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport and must be paid for in cash (US$100 for US citizens and US$50 for most other nationals). However, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the data your entry to Tanzania.

    4. Get a health check & required vaccinations

    It is important that you are in good physical health. If you are at increased risk due to age, level of fitness, or health condition, you must get a medical check and confirm with your doctor that strenuous exercise in high altitude is permissible for your condition. Please also check all required & recommended vaccinations and medications for travelling to Tanzania. As some vaccinations may need to be administered over longer periods of time to become effective, it is best to consult your medical expert well in advance of travelling to Tanzania.

    5. Fill in the Traveller Details Form

    Please fill in the Traveller Details Form for each person in your booking and send it back to us and your local Tour Operator as soon as possible prior to the start of your Tour. This allows your local Operator to prepare your Tour (including your arrival and departure arrangements; as well as any dietary, medical or other requirements they should be a aware of), and to ensure that we have all your details for emergencies.

    6. Start to train

    It is never too soon to start your training.

    The best training you can do to prepare for your Kilimanjaro climb is hiking. Running, swimming and cycling are all very good exercise but what you will be doing on Kilimanjaro is hiking. You will need to condition your body to walk in ascension, over uneven terrain for long periods. If you live in an area with hiking trails and mountains, this is a great opportunity to practice. If you live in a city or somewhere flat, taking stairs instead of elevators and targeted muscle exercises are excellent practice.

    7. Organize all required gear, documents, medications, etc.

    Organizing your gear can be a very time-consuming process. It is best to review our recommended packing list and start thinking about how to organize any missing items as soon as you've booked your climb. Most gear can be rented locally, which is a cost-effective and environmentally friendlier alternative to buying new gear. Please check with us for a full list of items available locally.

    8. Be aware of all risks, notably altitude sickness and malaria

    It is important that you familiarize yourself with all risks involved with your tour and travels to Tanzania. The biggest risk for Kilimanjaro climbers is altitude sickness. Another risk when travelling to Tanzania is malaria. Please familiarize yourself thoroughly with all risks involved so that you can take adequate precautions.

    9. Carefully read your pre-climb briefing

    Please carefully read our pre-climb briefing. Your local Tour Operator may also provide you with their own pre-climb briefing. Please carefully also read their documents. If in doubt about any information, please don't hesitate to contact us.

    Why book with Fair Voyage?

    Fair Voyage helps you find & CUSTOMIZE your best CONSCIOUS travel experience in Africa and developing regions. Through our direct relationships with LOCAL leaders in sustainability, we can offer you highest QUALITY at best prices. In addition, we INSURE your payments – all 100% free for you. Being INDEPENDENT , we only have your best interest at mind.

    Sounds too good to be true? Here’s the catch: We’re passionately driven by a NON-PROFIT MISSION bigger than us – to promote SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL.

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