The Rongai route is the only trail approaching from the northern slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro. It is also one of the quiet Kilimanjaro routes and a good alternative for those looking to hike a route with fewer hikers. Although the Rongai route is considered to be less scenic than the southern circuit routes, it retains a sense of unspoilt wilderness and offer a different perspective by approaching the Kilimanjaro from the north. Since the rainfall on the northern side of Mount Kilimanjaro is lower than the rest of the mountain, vegetation on the Rongai route is also different from southern circuit routes.
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. Please click on the Rongai map to see an enlarged Rongai route map.
Recommended duration of climb
The 6 day Rongai route is the minimum duration allowed and we strongly recommend you choose the 7 day Rongai route. 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.
Rongai route advantages Rongai 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.
6 Day Rongai route itinerary – click here
7 Day Rongai route 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)
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!