Kilimanjaro – Rongai Route

Rongai Route

The Rongai route is the route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, close to the Kenyan border. Rongai is the easiest route up Kilimanjaro, in some respects easier than Marangu. Rongai has excellent success rates, though gaining popularity amongst climbers, the Rongai route still experiences low traffic.

Rongai 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).

Rongai is a moderately difficult route, and is highly recommended, especially for those with less backpacking experience.

Below is the day by day itinerary for the 7 day Rongai climb on Mount Kilimanjaro:

The Rongai route has several variations. It can be done as a five, six or even seven day trek.

The extra day is not spent in the same camp as the previous day (on the Marangu route it is). The six day trek usually follows a different trail after day two. Some operators of six day treks simply ascend slower, making an extra camp instead of the detour. All seven day treks make the detour.

This itinerary describes the six day trek.

Day 1:

From Marangu park gate we travel to Naro Moru, north east Kilimanjaro, a further 68km and approximately 2 ½ hours on bad roads to the Rongai start point (1996m). Meet your guide and porters before you 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 first night’s camp is at Simba Camp (2 626m). The camp facilities include a public toilet and a wooden table with benches, but no hut.

  • Nalemoru (1950 m/6400 ft) – First Cave Campsite (2650 m/8700 ft)
  • Walking distance: 6.5 km/4 miles
  • Walking time: 3-4 hours
  • Altitude gain: 700 m/2300 ft
Rongai Route Map

Day 2:

We hike from Simba camp up towards Kibo till 3 482m for lunch at First Caves, a distance of 5.8km. After lunch we continue trekking until reaching Kikelewa Camp at about 3679 metres.

  • First Cave Campsite – Kikelewa Caves (3600 m/11810 ft)
  • Walking distance: 9 km/5.6 miles
  • Walking time: 6-7 hours
  • Altitude gain: 950 m/3110 ft

Day 3:

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.

  • Kikelewa Caves – Mawenzi Tarn (4330 m/14210 ft)
  • Walking distance: 6 km/3.7 miles
  • Walking time: 3-4 hours
  • Altitude gain: 730 m/2400 ft
  • Afternoon acclimatization walk to about 4500 m/14760 ft

Day 4 :

After breakfast we head west and continue ascending on the east side of Kibo crossing the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo taking 4 to 5 hours to reach Kibo Hut.

  • Mawenzi Tarn – Kibo Huts (4700 m/15420 ft)
  • Walking distance: 9 km/5.6 miles
  • Walking time: 4-5 hours
  • Altitude gain: 370 m/1215 ft

Day 5:

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. Do the Kili shuffle and move slowly. From Gillmans Point you will normally encounter snow all the way up to Uhuru peak (5895m), the highest point in Africa.

  • Summit attempt via Gilman’s Point (5700 m/18700 ft) to Uhuru Peak (5895 m/19340 ft) and descent to Horombo Huts (3700 m/12200 ft)
  • Walking distance: 5 km/3.1 miles ascent + 15 km/9.3 miles descent
  • Walking time: 5-6 hrs + 1-2 hours up, 5-6 hours down (the overall walking time may vary from 10 – 16 hours)
  • Altitude gain: 1000 m/ 3280 ft (Gilman’s Point) or 1195 m/3920 ft (Uhuru Peak)
  • Descent: 2195 m/7200 ft

Day 6:

After breakfast you continue your descent (6 hours), passing the Mandara hut, down to the Marangu gate.

  • Horombo Huts – Marangu Gate
  • Walking distance: 20 km/12.5 miles
  • Walking time: 5 hours
  • Descent: 1840 m/6040 ft