The seldom-traveled Rongai route begins its ascent of Kilimanjaro from the northeastern side of the mountain, along the border between Tanzania and Kenya. This is a great way to really get off the beaten path and get away from the crowds from the Marangu and Machame routes. Experienced guides consider the Rongai route to be both easier and more scenic than the Marangu Trail.
Here is a breakdown of each day on the Rongai Route.
Day 1 Rongai Camp
Altitude: 6,396′ to 8,530′; Hiking time: 3 hours.
Register at the Marangu park gate and drive two and a half hours to the Rongai trailhead. Begin hiking from the village of Nale Moru. The small winding path crosses maize fields before entering pine forest, and then climbs gently through a forest sheltering a variety of wildlife, including the Kilimanjaro Colobus monkey. The campsite is on the edge of the moorland zone with expansive views of the Kenyan plains.
Day 2 Kikelewa Caves
Kikelewa Caves Altitude: 8,530′ to 11,320′; Hiking time: 6-7 hours.
This is the challenging ascent to the second cave, where you will relax and take lunch with superb views of Kibo and the ice fields on the crater rim. After lunch, we head toward the jagged peaks of Mawenzi, where we camp in a sheltered valley near Kikelewa Caves. [BLD].
Day 3 Mawenzi Tarn
Altitude: 11,320′ to 14,210′; Hiking time: 3-4 hours.
A short but steep climb up grassy slopes offers superb views of this wilderness area. The vegetation zone ends shortly before we reach our next camp at Mawenzi Tarn, which is situated beneath the towering spires of Mawenzi. You spend the afternoon acclimatizing and exploring the area.
Day 4 Kibo Campsite
Altitude: 14,210′ to 15,580′; Hiking time: 4-5 hours.
We cross the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo to reach Kibo Campsite. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent.
Day 5 Final Ascent – Horombo Camp
Altitude: 15,580′ to 18,650′ (Gillman’s Point) to 19,340′ (summit) then down to 12,200′; Hiking time: 12-16 hours.
Begin the final, steepest and most difficult part of the ascent at 1:00am. Hike slowly on a switchback trail through loose volcanic scree to reach the crater rim at Gillman’s Point. You will enjoy the spectacular sunrise over Mawenzi. For those who feel strong enough, continue to Uhuru Peak passing close to spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs in the summit area. We descend to Kibo for lunch and a rest then continue down the Marangu route to our Horombo Camp.
Day 6 Descent to Marangu
Altitude: 12,200′ to 6,250′; Hiking time: 5-6 hours.
We descend steadily through the moorland, past Mandara Hut and through a lush rain forest to the Marangu park gate.