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. Rongai is a moderately difficult route, and is highly recommended, especially for those with less backpacking experience.
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1: Rongai Gate to Simba Camp
- Distance: 6km
- Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
- Habitat: Montane Forest
You will be driven from your hotel in Arusha or Moshi for about 5 hours to the Rongai Gate near the Kenya border. After registering at the gate, we take the first hike through forests where you may see and hear wildlife. Eat lunch on the trail before continuing to the first campsite. Rongai ascends via the less forested northern side of the mountain.
The Rongai Route is one of the least crowded routes on Kilimanjaro because of the long drive to the gate. The Rongai trail is thought to have the best chance of viewing wildlife.
Day 2: First Cave Camp to Kikelewa Camp
- Distance: 9km
- Walking Time: 6-7 hours
- Habitat: Moorland
Hike through Kilimanjaro’s moorland. The Rongai route is relatively short and steep, making for shorter hiking times. During the hike, view Mawenzi Peak ahead.
Day 3: Kikelewa Camp to Mawenzi Tarn Camp
- Distance: 6km
- Walking Time: 4 hours
- Habitat: Moorland
This more leisurely acclimatization day starts with a morning hike followed by a rest in the afternoon and evening. The hike is relatively short but steep. The Mawenzi Tarn campsite is situated below Mawenzi Peak and offers stunning views of both Mawenzi and Kibo.
Day 4: Mawenzi Tarn Camp to Kibo Camp
- Distance: 4km
- Walking Time: 3 hours
- Habitat: Alpine desert
Cross the lunar landscape of the saddle on this day to arrive at the final campsite. Kibo Camp is situated directly below the Kibo cone, giving you stunning uninterrupted views of your final destination.
Day 5: Kibo Camp to Uhuru Peak to Horombo Hut
- Distance: 6 km ascent/16km descent
- Walking Time: 6-8 hours
- Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit
Around midnight, begin the final ascent to Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa. Hike by the light of your flashlight for the next six hours. The ascent to the crater rim is the most challenging part of the entire trek. The trail is very steep until you reach the crater rim at Gilman’s Point.
The hike from Gilman’s to Uhuru Peak is a gradual climb and, as far as hikes go, not very difficult. The altitude, however, makes the hike long and tiring. The crater rim hike takes about two hours. Upon reaching Uhuru, take photos of your guide and group at the peak before beginning the descent to Horombo Hut.
Day 6: Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate
- Hiking time: 6 – 8 hours
- Distance: 20km
- Walking Time: 5-7 hours
- Habitat: Moorlands
After breakfast, finish the trek with a descent to Marangu Gate. Your last hike on Kilimanjaro is a beautiful one, passing through Kilimanjaro’s cloud forest. Watch your step during the descent, as the trail can be slippery. Our vehicles will be waiting at Marangu Gate to take you back to your hotel.