The Rongai Route is the only route to ascend up the North side of the mountain, originating close to the Kenyan border. It is considered one of the easiest routes up Mt. Kilimanjaro and boasts a high success rate for reaching the summit. However, it is one of the less-frequently used routes, mostly attributed to the long drive required to reach the gate on day one. This has its advantages though, as it is less crowded and therefore a quieter way to ascend the mountain.
Because the northern side of the mountain tends to be drier than other areas, the ascent on the first day is not wet and muddy like on other routes. This first day is a very gentle climb through fields, a beautiful forest, and on day two enters moorland terrain. Day three takes you through the alpine desert zone, where you will sleep directly underneath the grand Mawenzi Peak, the only route to afford you such a view of Kilimanjaro’s 2nd highest peak. From here there is ample time set aside for acclimatization and resting in preparation for the final ascent to the summit.
This route meets up with the Marangu Route upon descent, allowing climbers a different view of the mountain on the way down. Although Rongai climbers do not experience the rainforest on day one, they are given the chance on the final day before reaching the Marangu Gate where the climb concludes.
Rongai Route Itinerary
Wake early and drive about one hour to the Marangu Park Gate where we will register. Thereafter drive approximately 2.5 hours to the Rongai Gate (1950 m). Meet our porters before beginning the trek from the Nale Moru Village. The small winding path crosses maize fields before climbing gradually through a pine forest. We spend the night at Rongai Cave (2600 m).
Trekking Time: 3-4 hours | Distance: 7 km | Altitude Gain: 650 m
The trail continues up towards Kibo, passing Second Cave en-route, and reaching Kikelewa Cave at 3600 meters. From here the views start to open up affording expansive views of the summit. Spend the night at Kikelewa Cave.
Trekking Time: 6-7 hours | Distance: 9 km | Altitude Gain: 1000 m
A short but steep climb up grassy slopes is rewarded by superb all-around views and a tangible sense of wilderness. We leave the vegetation behind shortly before reaching the next camp at Mawenzi Tarn (4330 m), spectacularly situated directly beneath the towering spires of Mawenzi Peak. The afternoon will be free to rest or explore the surrounding area as an aid to acclimatization.
Trekking Time: 4-5 hours | Distance: 7 km | Altitude Gain: 730 m
We will spend an extra day at Mawenzi Tarn to acclimatize. We will be able to trek and explore around Mawenzi Tarn and also rest to ensure readiness to continue our trek up Kilimanjaro tomorrow.
We cross the lunar like desert of the ‘Saddle’ between Mawenzi and Kibo Peaks to reach Kibo campsite (4750 m) at the bottom of the Kibo crater wall. Spend the afternoon resting for the final ascent to the summit.
Trekking Time: 5-6 hours | Distance: 8 km | Altitude Gain: 420 m
We will wake around midnight to begin our ascent to Uhuru Peak. The first section of the trail consists of a rocky path to the Hans Meyer Cave. We then take on switchbacks up to Gillman’s Point at 5681 m, situated on the crater rim. This section is very steep with much stone scree and is the most demanding section of the route. From Gillman’s Point we hike for another two hours up to Uhuru Peak (5895 m), the highest point in Africa. You made it! We enjoy a short time on the Roof of Africa before beginning our descent.
Trekking Time: 6-8 hours | Distance: 7 km | Altitude Gain: 1145 m
We descend back on the Marangu Route, passing through Kibo Hut and then onto Horombo (3720 m), where we will spend our last night on the mountain. We enjoy our final dinner and a well-earned sleep.
Trekking Time: 5-6 hours | Distance: 12 km | Altitude Loss: 2175 m
After breakfast we continue our descent, passing Mandara Hut down to the Marangu
Gate (1842 m) where you will receive your summit certificates courtesy of the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority. You will be met by a vehicle to transfer you back to your hotel in Moshi town.
Trekking Time: 5-7 hours | Distance: 18 km | Altitude Loss: 1878 m