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.
Popular 7-day Rongai Route trips
- Pre-climb briefing
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.read less
- Transfer to the Kilimanjaro National Park gate
- Moshi (831m) → Rongai Gate (1,945m)
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.read less
- Maize fields and pine forest
- Rongai Gate (1,945m) → Simba Camp (2,671m)
- A long day in heathland with stunning Kibo views
- Simba Camp (2,671m) → Kikelewa Camp (3,600m)
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.read less
- Welcome to alpine desert at the base of Mawenzi
- Kikelewa Camp (3,600m) → Mawenzi Tarn Camp (4,315m)
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.read less
- Acclimatization day at leisure
- Mawenzi Tarn Camp (4,315m)
- Across the saddle and into thin air
- Mawenzi Tarn Camp (4,315m) → Kibo Hut (4,720m)
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.read less
- Final summit push through the night and sunrise on top of Africa
- Kibo Hut (4,720m) → Uhuru Peak (5,895m)
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.read less
- Half way down into thicker air
- Uhuru Peak (5,895m) → Horombo Hut (3,720m)
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.read less
- All the way back down through the forest
- Horombo Hut (3,720m) → Marangu Gate (1,879m)
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.read less
- Transfer to your hotel
- Marangu Gate (1,879m) → Moshi (831m)