7 Days Rongai Route Kilimanjaro

Discovering Kilimanjaro’s Rongai Route: A Journey to the Roof of Africa

Standing tall and proud, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak and one of the world’s most famous trekking destinations. Among the various routes that lead to its snowy summit, the Rongai Route holds a special place for those seeking a quieter, more remote path to the top.

Kilimanjaro’s Rongai Route is a gem in the crown of trekking routes to the summit. Its remote location, gentle gradient, and high success rate make it an attractive option for climbers from around the world. Remember that summiting Kilimanjaro is a feat that requires preparation, perseverance, and respect for the mountain. If you choose the Rongai Route, take your time to savor the experience, and no matter how far you get, the journey itself will be a reward to remember.

The Rongai Route is located on the northeastern side of Mount Kilimanjaro, near the Kenyan border. Unlike the other trails which start on the southern side of the mountain, the Rongai Route offers a unique perspective, starting from the remote village of Nale Moru. Its location makes it the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north and provides a different climatic experience, with the drier northern slopes seeing less precipitation than the southern counterparts.

Rongai Route Distance & Elevation

Spanning approximately 70 kilometers (43 miles) round trip, the Rongai Route offers a relatively gentle gradient compared to other routes, making it a good option for trekkers who prefer a less strenuous ascent. The journey begins at an altitude of about 1,950 meters (6,398 feet) and gradually winds its way through farmlands, pine forests, and alpine meadows before reaching the edge of the moorland zone where the stunning views of the Kenyan plains unfold.

As trekkers ascend, they reach the Second Cave at 3,450 meters (11,319 feet) and then cross the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo, two of Kilimanjaro’s volcanic cones. The trail continues to Kibo Hut at 4,700 meters (15,420 feet), which serves as the base camp for the final summit push. The last stretch to Uhuru Peak, the highest point at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet), is the most challenging part of the trek but also the most rewarding with the spectacular sunrise views over the African plains.

Rongai Route Success Rate

The Rongai Route boasts one of the highest summit success rates compared to other paths on Kilimanjaro, partly due to its gentle slope that allows climbers to ascend slowly and acclimatize more effectively. While no official statistics are available, estimates suggest that the success rate for the Rongai Route is between 70% to 85%.

One of the factors contributing to this high success rate is that the Rongai Route typically takes six to seven days to complete, providing enough time for trekkers to adjust to the altitude. Additionally, the trail is less crowded, meaning trekkers can enjoy a more peaceful hike with less pressure from the groups behind them.

Factors Influencing Success Rate:

  • Gentle Gradient: Allows for a steadier pace and better acclimatization.
  • Duration: Six to seven days for a more gradual climb.
  • Crowd: Fewer trekkers lead to a more relaxed environment.
  • Acclimatization: Opportunities for “climb high, sleep low” are available.

It’s always essential to remember that success on Kilimanjaro isn’t solely determined by reaching the summit. The journey itself, the camaraderie formed with fellow climbers, and the personal challenges overcome are all part of the successful experience.

Why Choose the Rongai Route?

The Rongai Route offers several advantages that make it an appealing choice for climbers:

  • Gradual Slope: The route’s gentle gradient allows climbers to acclimatize slowly, making it a good option for those with less experience at high altitudes.

  • Scenic Variety: From rainforest to alpine desert, the Rongai Route showcases diverse ecosystems and stunning landscapes.

  • Crowd Avoidance: Being less traveled than other routes, Rongai provides a more solitary and serene climbing experience.

  • High Success Rate: The route’s gradual approach has a high success rate for summiting compared to other routes.

7 Days Rongai Route Climbing Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival and Preparation

Upon landing at Kilimanjaro International Airport, you’ll feel the excitement building as you’re whisked away to a lodge in the nearby town of Moshi. Here, climbers have a chance to meet their guides, review the itinerary, and ensure all gear is in order. It’s also an opportunity to rest and acclimate to the altitude.

Day 2: Rongai Gate to Simba Camp

Altitude: 1,950m to 2,650m

Distance: 8km

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

The adventure begins with a drive to the Rongai Gate on the northern side of the mountain, far from the more crowded Marangu and Machame routes. This initial trek through rainforest and farmland is gentle, allowing time to take in the vastness of the mountain and the excitement of the journey ahead. Upon reaching Simba Camp, you can settle in for your first night under the star-studded African sky.

Day 3: Simba Camp to Kikelewa Camp

Altitude: 2,650m to 3,600m

Distance: 11km

Hiking Time: 6-7 hours

The second day features a steady climb through the moorland zone, where giant heathers and lobelias start to pepper the landscape. You’ll notice a shift in the terrain and climate as you ascend. The Kikelewa Camp offers a stunning view, often above the cloud line, providing a sense of isolation from the world below.

Day 4: Kikelewa Camp to Mawenzi Tarn

Altitude: 3,600m to 4,330m

Distance: 6km

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

This day is shorter in distance but crucial for acclimatization. You’ll trek towards Mawenzi Tarn, nestled at the base of the jagged pinnacles of Mawenzi. The landscape grows more alpine, with the vegetation thinning out as you approach the campsite next to a serene tarn. This isolated spot is perfect for acclimatization walks, offering up-close views of the rugged Mawenzi.

Day 5: Mawenzi Tarn to Kibo Hut

Altitude: 4,330m to 4,750m

Distance: 9km

Hiking Time: 5-6 hours

As you leave the tarn, the path meanders across the lunar-like, high-altitude desert of the Saddle, a broad, flat expanse between Mawenzi and Kibo peaks. This stretch can test your spirit, with the thin air and the magnitude of the landscape making the going tough. The overnight stay at Kibo Hut offers a chance to rest before the final push to the summit.

Day 6: Kibo Hut to Uhuru Peak to Horombo Hut

Altitude: 4,750m to 5,895m (summit) to 3,720m

Distance: 6km ascent / 16km descent

Hiking Time: 6-8 hours ascent / 4-5 hours descent

Summit day begins in the early hours of the morning. Climbers embark on a challenging trek up the steep scree slopes to reach Gilman’s Point on the crater rim. From there, it’s a gradual climb along the rim to Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa. Standing atop Kilimanjaro is an indescribable feeling, with the continent at your feet and the sunrise painting the glaciers in hues of gold and pink.

After the summit celebration, the descent to Horombo Hut is long and requires caution on the loose gravel. Despite the exhaustion, the joy of accomplishment carries you through to a well-deserved rest.

Day 7: Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate

Altitude: 3,720m to 1,860m

Distance: 20km

Hiking Time: 5-7 hours

The final day’s hike is a gentle descent through the moorland and rainforest zones to the Marangu Gate. The triumphant feeling of completing the climb is often mixed with a bittersweet sentiment as you say goodbye to the mountain that has been your home for the past week.

Upon reaching the gate, climbers receive their summit certificates. Those who reached Gilman’s Point are awarded green certificates, while those who made it to Uhuru Peak receive gold certificates. After celebrations and farewells to the mountain crew, a drive back to Moshi marks the end of the Kilimanjaro experience.

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Climbing Cost Includes

2 Nights accommodation at Keys Hotek on BB
Private professional mountain guides
All Park fees
Rescue fees
All meals while on the Mountain
Arrival and Departure transfers
Government taxes, VAT and all relating service charges
Guides, Porters, cook salaries and park fees
Summit Oxygen
Walking Sticks
Camping Gears

Climbing Cost Excludes

Tanzania Visa: $50 per person on arrival
Personal Expenses (e.g. laundry, telephone, beverages, etc.)
Meals not listed above
Optional Tours (short safari after your climb etc)
Tips and any items of personal nature.
Emergency Evacuation by Flying Doctor