The Mountain of Rongani

Mount Kilimanjaro Rongai Route

Mount Kilimanjaro Rongai route is the only trail approaching from the northern slopes the mountain. It is also a quiet route and a good choice for those looking to hike a route with fewer hikers. The route is considered to be less scenic than the southern circuit routes. It does however retain a sense of unspoilt wilderness and offer a different perspective by approaching the Kilimanjaro from the north. With lower rainfall on the northern side of Kilimanjaro the vegetation on the Mount Kilimanjaro Rongai route is also different from the southern circuit routes. Please click on the Rongai route map to see an enlarged Rongai route map.

The actual trail from the Rongai gate to Kibo camp is also considered to be one of the easier, less challenging routes with a gradual ascend. However the summit trail, shared with Marangu route, is longer, more challenging and strenuous. You will descend via the Marangu route, which is also the longest descend route on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro Hiking Tours custom small map of the Rongai Route map

The Mount Kilimanjaro Rongai route may be completed in 6 days, however we strongly recommend you choose the Kilimanjaro Rongai route 7 days option. The reason being that the biggest cause of altitude sickness is going too high too fast and it affects every person differently irrespective of their age, fitness levels etc, By choosing the 7 day Rongai route do you allow your body more time to acclimatize and reduce the possibility to get altitude sickness.

Mount Kilimanjaro Rongai Route summary

Rongai route advantagesRongai route disadvantages
Quiet Kilimanjaro route with few hikers and offering northern view of Kilimanjaro. Long transfer time to the starting point, making it more expensive.
Unspoiled Kilimanjaro route with possibility to see (not guaranteed) wildlife on the lower slopes. Strenuous summit attempt – longest summit trail from Kibo camp to Uhuru peak of all routes.
Good option during the rainy season, since the rainfall is lower than the rest of Kilimanjaro. Challenging summit attempt, loose scree (rocks) on the trail and Jamaica rocks just before reaching Gillmans’s point.
Ascend and descend using different routes. Basic long drop style toilets at the campsites.
Relatively short hiking distances and easy trail from Rongai gate to Kibo camp. No real acclimatization benefits, since the route only offers a gradual ascent.

Mount Kilimanjaro Rongai route 7 days itinerary

Day 1 – Rongai Gate (2 364m / 7 755ft) – Simba campsite (2 671m / 8 763ft)

Hiking time: 4 hours
Distance: Approximately 7 km / 4.3 miles
Habitat: Forest (Montane)

colobus monkey in the forest along the Rongai route

Depart from Moshi town and drive 50 minutes to the Marangu park gate for registration. From the Marangu park gate we travel to Naromuru, north east Kilimanjaro, a further 68km and approximately 3 hours drive. The small winding path, crosses maize fields before entering pine forest, and then climbs gently through the rain forest. The trail is not steep, but rather a gentle hike through a beautiful country side. The first night’s campsite is at Simba Campsite.

Day 2 – Simba campsite (2 671m / 8 763ft) – Kikelewa Campsite (3 600m / 11 811ft)

Hiking time: 6 – 7 hours
Distance: Approximately 11 km / 6.8 miles
Habitat: Moorlands

After breakfast we hike from Simba campsite up towards Kibo till 3 450m / 11 318ft for lunch at Second Caves, a distance of 8km / 5 miles. After lunch we continue trekking until reaching Kikelewa Campsite. The views start to open up and you begin to feel you’re on a really big mountain! Water can be found in an obvious stream below the cave, although you might have to wander downhill a way to find a pool or two. Please click on the Kilimanjaro Rongai route 7 days, Rongai route map to visualize.

Day 3 – Kikelewa Campsite (3 600m / 11 811ft) – Mawenzi Tarn hut (4 315m / 11 156ft)

Hiking time: 3 hours
Distance: Approximately 3.5 km / 2.2 miles
Habitat: Moorlands

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 campsite at Mawenzi Tarn hut, which is spectacularly situated beneath the towering spires of Mawenzi peak. Spend the afternoon acclimatizing and exploring the area. Please click on the Kilimanjaro Rongai route 7 days, Rongai route map to visualize.

Day 4 – Acclimatization day Mawenzi Tarn campsite (4 315m / 11 156ft)

Spend an acclimatization day at Mawenzi Tarn campsite, with acclimatization hikes to higher altitudes along Mawenzi. All meals and overnight at the Mawenzi Tarn Campsite.

Day 5 – Mawenzi Tarn campsite (4 315m / 11 156ft) – Kibo camp (4 720m / 15 485ft)

Hiking time: 5 hours
Distance: Approximately 10 km / 6.2 miles
Habitat: Alpine desert

After breakfast we head west and continue ascending on the east side of Kibo crossing the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo taking 5 to 6 hours to reach Kibo camp. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent, which begins around midnight.  On this day the Kilimanjaro Rongai route 7 days connect with the Marangu route.

Mawenzi tarn hut along the Mount Kilimanjaro Rongai Route

Day 6 – Summit day

Ascend: Kibo camp (4 720m / 15 485ft) – Uhuru Peak (5 895m / 19 341ft)

Hiking time: 6 to 8 hours to reach Uhuru Peak                                                                                                                                                        Distance: Approximately 6 km / 3.7 miles
Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit

Descend: Uhuru Peak (5 895m / 19 341ft) – Horombo hut (3 720m / 12 205ft)

Hiking time: 5 to 7 hours to descend to Horombo hut
Distance: Approximately 15 km / 9.5 miles
Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit

You will rise at around 23h20 and start your summit attempt. The first section of the trail consists of a rocky path to the Hans Meyer Cave (5 240m / 17 191ft), also a good resting spot. The path, with a lot of stone scree, then zigzags up to Gilman’s point (5 681m / 18 638ft), which is located on the crater rim. The area just before reaching Gilman’s point, is called “Jamaica rocks” and is very steep, rocky area requiring a great physical and mental effort. This is probably the most demanding section of the entire route. Do the Kili shuffle and move slowly. From Gilman’s Point you will normally encounter snow all the way up to Uhuru peak (5 895m 19 341ft), the highest point in Africa. Total exhilaration and satisfaction – you made it. Please click on the Kilimanjaro Rongai route 7 days, Rongai route map to visualize.

You will then descent 3 hours back to Kibo camp. After a short rest, gather all your gear and head down to Horombo hut (2 ½ hours) for your overnight.

Day 7 – Horombo hut (3 720m / 12 205ft) – Marangu Gate (1 970m / 6 460ft)

Hiking time: 5 to 7 hours
Distance: Approximately 19.7 km / 12.2 miles

After breakfast you continue your descent, passing the Mandara hut, down to the Marangu gate. At the Marangu gate, you sign your name and details in a register. This is also where successful climbers receive their summit certificates. You now drive back to Moshi for a long overdue hot shower, dinner and celebrations! Congratulations on completing the Kilimanjaro Rongai route 7 days!