Rongai Route Overview
The Rongai route begins on the northern side of the mountain just south of the Kenyan border and the ascent is one of the least travelled routes. If you take this route up the mountain you will descend on the same route as used on the Marangu Route.
Rongai is slowly gaining in popularity. You get to view the North side of Kilimanjaro, sleep in tents and have a more gradual climb. Although it starts off with a long drive to the starting point, you will be rewarded by fantastic views and also by the likelihood that you will be the only climbers around on the way up. All your equipment and supplies are carried for you by a team of porters and a cook prepares all your meals.
Day 1: (JRO) OR KILIMANJARO AIRPORT – ARUSHA
Our staff will meet you at Kilimanjaro International airport and transfer you to Arusha where you will spend the evening. Before dinner, your guide will sit with you and brief you on the climb ahead. Stay overnight in Arusha.
Day 2: ARUSHA – RONGAI CAVE
After completing the necessary registration formalities at Marangu National Park gate, you will be transferred by Land Rover to the start of the Rongai route. This is close to the border with Kenya and the drive will take around 1 ½ hours. We begin the ascent by hiking along a small path winding through fields of maize and potatoes in the cultivation zone before entering pine forest. The track then starts to climb consistently, but gently through forest that shelters a variety of wildlife. The forest begins to thin out before you reach the first cave later in the afternoon, where you will be camping overnight. Situated on the edge of the moorland zone (2,600 m.), you will be will be rewarded with great views across the plains below, reminding you that you are indeed in Africa. By the time you arrive at camp your porters will already have started preparing everything for your arrival, your tents will be pitched and water will be on the boil. You will be given a supply of water to wash with and later on your cook will prepare dinner for you. You can expect temperatures to drop to near freezing point during the night. Stay overnight at Rongai Cave Campsite.
Altitude: 1950 m – 2600 m
Hiking time: 4 hours
Distance: 8 km
Habitat: Rain Forest
Day 3: FIRST CAVE – KIKELWA (SECOND CAVE)
After breakfast we start the morning with a steady walk as we ascend up to the Second Cave (3450 m). On the way up you will take in splendid views of Kibo and the Eastern ice fields on the crater rim. After lunch, we leave the main trail and head out across the Kikelewa moorland towards the jagged peaks of Mawenzi. We pass by one area where you will enjoy views that very few visitors to Kilimanjaro will ever get to see, including great views of the plains of Kenya below and the spectacular Mawenzi Tarn above.
The campsite is by the Second Cave in a sheltered valley, with giant Senecios growing nearby. Again, the porters will have your tents pitched before you arrive and will boil drinking and washing water, before your cook prepares your dinner. At 3600 meters, your night at this camp will see temperatures dropping to freezing point. Stay overnight at Second Cave Campsite.
Altitude: 2600 m – 3600 m
Hiking time: 7 hours
Distance: 10 km
Day 4: KIKELWA – MAWENZI TARN
A short but steep climb up grassy slopes is rewarded by superb all-round views and a tangible sense of wilderness – we pass later through the lunar desert of the Saddle, this is the lava covered expanse between the two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo. Later in the afternoon we will reach Mawenzi Tarn (4330 m) where we camp overnight and bed down early in preparation for the ascent to the summit the next day. This is a spectacular setting, in a cirque directly behind the towering aspires of Mawenzi. The rest of your afternoon can be spent resting or exploring the surrounding area to aid with acclimatization. Stay overnight at Mawenzi Tarn. Altitude: 3600 m- 4700 m Hiking time: 4 hours Distance: 10 km Habitat: Moorland and Alpine Desert
Day 5: MAWENZI TARN – SCHOOL CAMP
Today we pass through the lunar desert of the Saddle. This is the lava covered expanse between the two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo. We pass by to the bottom of Kibo Crater Wall to School campsite. Today’s walk is not very far, but due to the altitude, takes 5 hours. This is an important part of the climb as you can now completely acclimatize to the surroundings. Best you get to bed early this evening (at the latest 19:00) as you will be rising at around 11:00 to begin your summit attempt. Make sure all your kit is in order so you do not have to scramble for everything in the morning. Stay overnight at School Camp.
Altitude: 4330 m- 4750 m
Hiking time: 5 hours
Distance: 6 km
Habitat: Moorland and Alpine Desert
Day 6: KIBO HUT – UHURU PEAK – HOROMBO HUT
We have a very early start for the final ascent, leaving the hut in the middle of the night to arrive at Uhuru Peak just after dawn. It is a 4 to 5 hour slow walk to reach the crater rim at Gillman’s Point (5690m) followed by a further 1 to 2 hour walk around the crater rim to Uhuru Peak (5895m). Here you will have the most incredible views of the surrounding gigantic glaciers and ice cliffs, with the plains of Africa spread out below you. Don’t get too relaxed and spend too much time on the summit, even if the weather is good. Cold and fatigue will set in quickly and you may find it very difficult to get started again. So spend a little time to enjoy the fact that you have conquered Kilimanjaro, get the camera out and take some pictures, then it will be best that you get moving again – it’s a long way down!
The first part of your descent to Kibo hut will take almost another 3 hours. After a short rest you will begin the next part of your descent – it will take another 3 hours of hiking to get to Horombo hut where you will spend the night. Later you can enjoy your last dinner on the mountain. You will no doubt have a good sleep, feeling exhilarated and proud of your achievement. Stay overnight at Horombo Hut.
Altitude: 4700 m – 5895 m – 3720 m
Hiking time: 15 – 16 hours
Distance: 30 km
Habitat: Snow, Ice and Stoney scree, Moorland
Day 7: HOROMBO HUT – MARANGU GATE
After an early and well-deserved breakfast, you continue your descent passing the Mandara hut, down to the Marangu gate – this will take the best part of 6 hours. At Marangu gate you sign your name and details in a register. To make your achievement official, you will receive a summit certificate. If you reached Gillman’s Point you will be presented with a green certificate, and if you made it all the way to Uhuru Peak you will have earned yourself a gold certificate. You will then take a road transfer back to Arusha where you will be welcomed back to the hotel. Take some time out for a long hot shower, and indulge in a drink or three to celebrate before getting a decent night’s rest in a comfortable bed. Stay overnight at Arusha.
Altitude: 3720 m – 1980 m
Hiking time: 6 hours
Distance: About 27 km
Habitat: Moorland and Rain forest
Day 8: DEPARTURE
Our staff will transfer you back to (JRO) or Kilimanjaro International airport for your onward flights to Zanzibar, Dar Es Salaam or Arusha for your national parks safari.
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