Rongai Route Kilimanjaro ascent profile is very similar to that of Marangu and like Marangu it is considered one of Kilimanjaro’s easier routes. Starting from the North- east side of the mountain near the Kenyan border, the Rongai Routeup Kilimanjaro rises above the Amboselli plains and approaches the summit of Kilimanjaro east of the Mawenzi peaks. There is very little forest to walk through so you miss the forest scenes of other routes. There are chances to see herds of Buffalo if you are lucky and you also get a chance to see a number of caves formed from the volcanic eruption of Kilimanjaro. 

Like Marangu Route, Rongai visits the famous Saddle, which is a landmark sight on Kilimanjaro – a geographical saddle joining Kilimanjaro’s youngest volcanic peak, Mawenzi, to its highest peak, Kibo.The scenery is slightly less varied than the western routes (Lemosho, Shira), but it is equally unspoiled.

However because of the constant altitude gain the route does not allow for the application of the climb high and sleep low principle and hikers generally suffer more from altitude sickness along Rongai route compared to other routes. For this reason an extra day acclimatisation is advised.

Descent is via Marangu route giving you a view of a different side of the mountain.

If you are looking for answers to specific questions, read here or go here to see some of our blog posts

rongai route at a glance

Overnight in tents on the mountain

From 6 trekking days but best done in 7 days

Starts after a 4 hour transfer at Loitokok and then heads up via Mawenzi to Kibo

Very quiet route but needs an extra day as it lacks climb high sleep low principle.

Summit via Kibo Huts and Gilmans Point


Day-1: Arrive Kilimanjaro 

Day-2: Rongai Gate (1950m) - 1st Caves camp (2600m)
Elevation: 1,950m ft to 2,600m
Distance: 8 km/5 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

Register at the Marangu park gate with a transfer (approximately 3 .5 hours) to the Rongai/Loitokok start point. Meet your guide and porters before you begin your hike from the Nale Moru village at the start of the Rongai route. The small winding path crosses maize fields before entering a pine forest with a gradual climbs. The trail is not at all steep, but rather a gentle hike through beautiful country. The forest begins to thin out before you reach first cave later towards the afternoon. The first night's camp is at First Cave at about 2,600 metres. There is a toilet and a wooden table with benches, but no hut. Water can be found just down the trail below First Cave.

Day-3: 1st Caves (2600m) - Kikelewa Cave (3600m)

Elevation: 2,600m to 3,600m
Distance: 12 km/8 miles
Hiking Time: 6-7 hours
Habitat: Heath Zone

The Rongai trail continues to Kibo with magnificent views of the Eastern ice fields on Kibo Crater rim. We will pass Second Cave (3450m) en-route, and start out across the Kikelewa moorlands under the jagged and imposing, Mawenzi peaks, reaching Kikelwa Cave at about 3600 metres. Overnight at 3rd Cave camp with magnificent Scenios nearby Kikelewa Caves . 

Day-4: Kikelewa Cave (3600) - Mawenzi Tarn camp (4330m): 
Elevation: 3,600m to 4,330m
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

A short but steep climb up grassy slopes offering superb views of this wilderness area. Here, we will leave the moorland region behind and quickly enter into the lunar alpine desert stretched out between the imposing peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo. We will camp at Mawenzi Tarn spectacularly situated in the shadows of Mawenzi. Spend the afternoon acclimatizing and exploring the area.

Day-5: Mawenzi Tarn camp (4330m) - Kibo hut (4700m): 
Elevation: 4,330m to 4,700m
Distance: 8 km/5 miles
Hiking Time: 5-6 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Continue ascending along the east side of Kibo along the Rongai trail, crossing the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo taking 4 to 5 hours to reach Kibo Hut. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent, which begins around midnight. Overnight at Kibo Camp

Day-6: SUMMIT DAY to Horombo Huts

Elevation: 4,700m to 5,895m to 3,700m
Distance: 24 km/14 miles
Hiking Time: 10-15 hours
Habitat: Alpine Arctic to Heath Zone 

Wake at around 11pm and prepare for the summit ascent. This part of the hike is carried out early in the morning before dawn so that you reach Kilimanjaro Uhuru Peak around sunrise. After climbing steadily up a zig-zag path Gilmans Point at 5756m lies ahead where you can get to see views of the crater from Gilmans Point. Another 2 hours of hiking will bring you to Uhuru Peak (19,340 ft) at about 8:30 am, summit of Kilimanjaro. From there you trek back to Kibo Huts, collect your things and cross the vast plateau again at Horombo Huts to spend the night. After eating dinner, it is time for well-deserved sleep.

Day-7: Horombo to Mandara Huts to Marangu Gate

Elevation: 3,700m to 1,860m
Distance: 20 km/12 miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

Wake, pack and descend along the same route to Mandara Huts for lunch, before trekking down to the Marangu park gate to meet your transport back to Moshi. Those climbers who climbed to Gilmans Point (5700m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895m) receive gold certificates for your Rongai Route climb on Kilimanjaro.

Day-8: After breakfast, 
transfer to Kilimanjaro International Airport for you flight home.
End of services                   



Is Kilimanjaro a technical climb?

No. Kilimanjaro is a trekking peak in that you essentially hike or trek to summit. No technical expertise is required, nor use of rope etc. There are sections on the mountain which require a scramble up rocky areas, dependant  on which trekking path you follow.  There are no scramble sections on Rongai.

Is Rongai and easier route to take?

Rongai is one of the easier routes as it is both gradual and steady. However, the Rongai Route does not have a great climb high sleep low profile which makes it arguably more difficult than the Machame or Lemosho routes. The 7 day trek option is highly recommended as it allows for better acclimatization. 

How difficult is Rongai route?

The Rongai route is considered to be one of the easier routes up Kilimanjaro though of course no route is ever 'easy'. The climb ascent profile is more gradual than the southern slopes. However, the Rongai Route does not have good acclimatization options to follow the principle of 'climb high, sleep low' which means that the success rate is lower than the Machame or Lemosho routes in terms of acclimatization. We suggest that you add on an acclimatization day

How long does it take to hike Rongai Route?

Kilimanjaro Rongai route is approximately 72km or 44miles from gate to gate. Most trekkers complete the Rongai Route in six days; however it can be done in 7 or 8 day variations

Will we have access to fresh running water at camps?

There are several streams on the   trail and porters will collect water from them. The cook then boils this water for you to fill you water bottles  for your days hike. You can also use purifier tablets in stream water or add it to your boiled water however it can also have an effect on the diamox and make you feel nauseous. The higher you climb the less water there. On the Machame trail, for example, the last water point is at the Karanga Valley, the lunch-stop before Barafu; on Marangu, it’s just before the Saddle. For this reason it is essential that you carry enough bottles for at least two litres.

When is the best time or months to climb Kilimanjaro?

The warmest months with the clearest trekking days, are from mid to late December, January, February, September and October. The rains often come in April and the start of May with the possibility of some snow. June through to August are superb trekking months, though evening temperatures tend to be colder. The wettest months are November and early December, where snowfalls are likely. Note however, that as this is a mountain it is not impossible to get sporadic snow or rainfall at odd times throughout the year, although the snow normally only falls above 4800m.

Which is the best route to follow to climb Kilimanjaro?

There are 7 summit routes; namely, Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe and Machame. Of all the routes, Machame is by far the most scenic albeit steeper route up the mountain. The Rongai is the easiest camping route and the Marangu is also easier but accommodation is in huts. As a result, this route tends to be very busy and ascent and descent routes are the same. Both of the latter have lower prospects to acclimitise by the climb high sleep low principle unless one adds on extra days. The Northern Circuit, approaches Kibo from the west, crossing the caldera of Shira Volcano before turning north to follow the trail through Moir Valley and around the northern side of Kilimanjaro.

The Shira, Lemosho and Machame all meet up before Lava Tower (day three), and then with Umbwe at Baranco Camp (end of day three). Marangu, Rongai and Northern Circuit all meet up at Kibo Huts.

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Is Rongai Route busy?

Generally speaking it is not busy and certainly far less busy than most of the other routes. It also passes through more remote wilderness areas so there is greater chance to see wildlife in the first days. At third caves you may meet up with people from the Northern route but mostly you will only see a lot of people from Kibo onwards

How hard is it to hike to Everest Base Camp compared to Kilimanjaro?

Most people think Everest Base Camp is higher than Kilimanjaro but surprise surprise, it is not. Base camp of Everest (or rather Kala Pathar – the little hill you climb up above base camp) is actually 5545m, whereas Kilimanjaro summit is 5895m.

People also think it is a tougher hike than Kilimanjaro, but Kilimanjaro is actually regarded as tougher by those who have done both.

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How will the altitude affect me on Kilimanjaro?

This is a really difficult one to answer directly - "how will I cope with the altitude". To be honest, this is an ' unknown' factor as no-one can predict how your body will cope at altitude. People who have been to altitude many times in the past without problems, may on one climb suddenly develop problems. There are many factors that play a role. The only way to help combat this, is to take all of the necessary precautions, and walk slowly, pole pole. Choosing a path like Machame where you get to follow the principle of "climb high, sleep low" is also advisable.                    

How much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro?

The Kilimanjaro National Park fees are something that nobody can escape and are a large portion of your climb cost. For a six day/five night camping trek you pay about $800 in fees alone!  So on average a climb will cost you between $1450 and $2800 depending on the number of days, number of people and the route that you take. There are some operators  who will quote you $1000 for a trek - ask yourself, what are they skimping on and who is going to suffer as a result. You? Your safety? The porters?

Where can I get climbing Insurance for Kilimanjaro?

If you are going hiking or climbing or trekking then you need extra cover for your activities. Hiking and Climbing have become popular for many adventure seekers looking to add a climb up Kilimanjaro or a trek to Everest Base Camp, Annapurna or even Island Peak to their list of amazing adventures. But any climb to high altitude carries with it a number of risks and having the correct and good trekking insurance is an absolute must. We recommend two different groups depending on whcih contry you reside in. For further details, click on the icon


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