- Only northern approach to Kilimanjaro
- Least scenic route
- Offers a true wilderness experience on the early stages of the climb
- Very tough final summit night from the north
- Less acclimatisation opportunities
- Less scenic and flat
- Fully catered camping only
The Rongai route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, close to the Kenyan border. Though gaining popularity amongst climbers, Rongai has low traffic. It is the preferred route for those looking for an alternative to the crowded Marangu route, for those who would like a more remote hike
and for those who are climbing during the rainy season (the north side receives less precipitation). The minimum number of days required for this route is six days, and seven days are recommended. Although the scenery is not as varied as the western routes, Rongai makes up for this by passing through true wilderness areas for days before joining the Marangu route at Kibo camp. This route descends down the Marangu route.
Recommended Trip Length Accomodation
6 Days / 5 Nights Camping
Day 1: Rongai Gate (1950m) – First Caves camp (2600m)
Hiking time: 5h
Distance: Approximately 8 kms
Habitat: Forest (Montane)
After breakfast, you will meet your guide who will give you a briefing before proceeding with the drive from Moshi/Arusha to the Rongai gate. Register at the park gate, after which you transfer (approximately 2 ½ hours) to the Rongai trailhead and begin your hike from the Nale Moru village. The small winding path crosses maize fields before entering pine forest, and then climbs gently through a forest. The trail is not at all steep, but is rather a gentle hike through beautiful country. The first night’s camp is at First Cave, at about 2,600 metres. There is a toilet and a wooden table with benches, but no hut. Water can be found just down the trail below First Cave.
Day 2: First Cave (2600m) – Kikelewa Cave (3600m)
Hiking time: 6 – 7h
The trail continues up towards Kibo, passing Second Cave (3450m) en-route, and reaching Kikelwa Cave at about 3600 metres. The views start to open up and you begin to feel you’re on a really big mountain! Water is in the obvious stream below the cave, although you might have to wander downhill a way to find some. Overnight at 3rd Cave camp (Kikelewa Caves).
Day 3 Kikelewa Cave (3600) – Mawenzi Tarn camp (4330m)
Hiking time: 3 – 4h
A short but steep climb up grassy slopes offers superb views of this wilderness area. The vegetation zone ends shortly before you reach your next camp at Mawenzi Tarn spectacularly situated beneath the towering spires of Mawenzi. Spend the afternoon acclimatizing and exploring the area.
Day 4 Mawenzi Tarn camp (4330m) – Kibo hut (4700m)
Hiking time: 4 – 5h
Habitat: Alpine desert
Ascending on the east side of Kibo crossing the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo taking 4 to 5 hours to reach Kibo Hut. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent, which begins around midnight. Overnight at Kibo Camp.
Day 5 (Summit Attempt) Kibo hut (4700m) – Uhuru Peak (5895m) – Horombo hut (3720m)
Hiking time: 8h to Uhuru, 6h to Horombo
Habitat: Stone scree / ice-cap summit
Distance: Approximately 6 kms ascent, 21 kms descent
You depart the camp very early in the morning. This is where the going really gets tough. The first section of the trail consists of a rocky path to the Hans Meyer Cave (5150m), also a good resting spot. The path then zigzags up to Gillman’s point (5 681m), which is located on the crater rim. This section is very steep with a lot of stone scree, requiring a great physical and mental effort. This is probably the most demanding section of the entire route. Move slowly. From Gillman’s Point you will normally encounter snow all the way up to Uhuru peak (5895m), the highest point in Africa.
Day 6 Horombo hut (at 3720m) to Marangu Gate (at 1980m)
Hiking time: 6h
Distance: Approximately 27 kms
After breakfast you continue your descent (6 hours), passing the Mandara hut, down to the Marangu gate. At Marangu gate you sign your name and details in a register. You now drive back to Moshi for a long overdue hot shower, dinner and celebrations!!