The Rongai route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, close to the Kenyan border. Though gaining popularity amongst climbers, Rongai has low traffic. It is the preferred route for those looking for an alternative to the crowded Marangu route, for those who would like a more remote hike, and for those who are climbing during the rainy season (the north side receives less precipitation). The minimum number of days required for this route is six days, and seven days are recommended. Although the scenery is not as varied as the western routes, Rongai makes up for this by passing through true wilderness areas for days before joining the Marangu route at Kibo camp. This route descends down the Marangu route. Rongai is a moderately difficult route, and is highly recommended, especially for those with less backpacking experience.
After stopping at the Marangu Gate for permits, we proceed to the wooden village of Nale Moru, where the trailhead begins. The trail winds through corn and potato fields, and then climbs gently through the forest which is home to a variety of wildlife, including the Black and White Colobus Monkey. We camp at Rongai Cave.
After breakfast we begin the morning hike with a steady incline and reach 2nd Cave while en-route to Kikelewa Cave. Views of Kibo and the Eastern ice fields on the crater rim begin to emerge.
The hike today is short and steep, up a grassy slope. Views of the wilderness area are stunning. As we exit the heath zone and emerge into the alpine desert zone, the landscape changes dramatically. Camp is situated beneath the jagged spires of Mawenzi. The remainder of the day can be spent relaxing or exploring the area.
This is an acclimatization day. We hike steadily up a ridge with fantastic views on both sides; the landscape is rugged and rocky. After spending a few moments exploring Mawenzi Ridge, we head back to Mawenzi Tarn for camp. Extra days on the trail give our bodies the opportunity to acclimatize and assist with summit day.
DAY 5: Marwenzi Tarn to Kibo Hut; Elevation (ft): 14,160 ft to 15,430 ft; Distance: 8 km; Hiking Time: 5-6 hours; Habitat: Alpine Desert. The trail climbs gradually across the rocky lunar landscape as we traverse the “Saddle” between Mawenzi and Kibo Peaks. Our campsite for the night sits at the bottom of the Kibo crater wall. The remainder of the day is spent resting and preparing for the final ascent in the early morning.
The trail climbs gradually across the rocky lunar landscape as we traverse the “Saddle” between Mawenzi and Kibo Peaks. Our campsite for the night sits at the bottom of the Kibo crater wall. The remainder of the day is spent resting and preparing for the final ascent in the early morning.
We wake in the middle of the night and begin the final push to reach the Roof of Africa. The trail to Gilman’s Point is very steep and the ascent will be slow and steady. From Gilman's, it is a traverse along the crater rim to Uhuru Peak. We stay at the summit for a short time, to take
A long trek is in store for today, however it is mostly downhill. Once at the park headquarters at Marangu Gate we pick up our certificate that proves our achievement and catch our vehicle transfer to hotel in Moshi for Hot shower.