The Rongai route is one of the least frequented of the official Kilimanjaro routes. The upside of this is that there will be few other climbers about and for most of the trek you are walking through virgin wilderness and awe inspiring scenery. The downside is that one of the reasons it is quiet is because the topography of this route doesn't make it easy to acclimatise as you can't easily follow the "climb high, sleep low" principle. To combat this we add an acclimatisation day at Mawenzi Tarn.
Lying in the rain shadow of Kilimanjaro, the Rongai route is one of the best routes to make the attempt on Kilimanjaro during the rainy season, as it sees substantially less rain than the southern routes.
Starting from the Rongai gate, the route traverses several diverse climate zones, and each produces its own amazing views and experiences. Throughout the early trek, Kilimanjaro looms overhead dramatically and at higher altitudes you are rewarded with incredible sights finally ending with the 360 degree view from the top of Uhuru Peak.
This ascent route does not require technical climbing but the trails are strenuous and a good level of physical fitness is required. As the descent is along the more heavily travelled Marangu route this trek offers you the chance to see Mount Kilimanjaro from both sides, and to experience nearly everything this unique and beautiful region has to offer.
You will be met by a Kandoo driver at Kilimanjaro airport, who will take you to your hotel in Moshi.
Our first day on the mountain itself begins with registration at Marangu Park Gate, then transportation by road to the Rongai Trailhead, where we will meet up with our porters. Our trek proper starts at Nale Moru village, following a winding trail through planted fields before a gentle climb through pine forest. We'll make camp for the night at First Cave, which is at approximately 2600 metres of altitude.
On day three we'll rejoin the same foot trail and continue towards Kibo. We'll climb steadily past Second Cave Camp before reaching Kikelewa Camp where we will stop for the night. This will mark one of the first really good views of Kilimanjaro and finally give us a sense of just how high this trek will take us.
Day four takes us into the wilderness proper, after a short, steep climb up sloping grassland. As we leave the vegetation behind we are rewarded with amazing 360 degree views, especially for the last leg before reaching camp at Mawenzi Tarn.
Camp is set in a cirque huddled beneath Mawenzi Peak far above. Nonetheless, it is a respectable 4330 metres above sea level, and you will have the afternoon free to explore a bit and become better acclimatised.
We will spend a full day at and around Mawenzi Tarn as part of the acclimatisation process. There will be plenty to do, and our crew will help arrange short excursions to explore the area.
We hit the trail again early on day six, crossing the Saddle between Kibo and Mawenzi peaks before making camp on the wall of Kibo Crater. The landscape of the Saddle is like nothing you've ever seen before, so take time to look around!
The final ascent is early tomorrow, so we rest up and prepare our gear tonight.
This is the big day!
We'll wake just before midnight for a hot drink and a snack, then up we go. The summit attempt is the hardest part of the trek, both mentally and physically.
The route takes us along rocky terrain to Hans Meyer Cave then zig-zags towards Gilman's Point on the very rim of the top crater, 5681 metres above sea level. The Gilman's Point leg is physically demanding as the slope is steeper and the ground under-foot is loose scree. From this point on to the summit you may experience snow.
Next is the summit itself, Uhuru Peak at 5895 metres. Weather permitting, there will be time for well-earned celebrations and picture taking before descending first back to Kibo Hut, then on to Horombo Camp, some 2000 metres below the peak, to spend the night.
This is our last day actually on the mountain. The last leg of the trek could be muddy, so wear gaiters if you brought them. Trekking poles will help too. As the weather will be warm or rainy (or both), you'll want to dress for it.
We'll make your way down to Marangu Park Gate where you will receive your official Kilimanjaro climb certificate. Then we'll take you to your hotel in Moshi for a well-earned rest in a civilised bed.
After a good night's sleep, we'll take you from your hotel to the airport and see you safely on your way.
The Rongai route is considered to be one of the easier routes up Kilimanaro. The climb 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 option is recommended as it allows for better acclimatization. No technical climbing is required.
The exact trekking distance for the Rongai Route is 72km or 44 miles.
The summit success rates for the Rongai Route are greatly increased with the longer itinerary option. Whilst there are no official statistics, the average success rate across all operators is 80% for the 7 day trek and a 65% success rate for the 6 day trek. However, Kandoo have a 90% summit success rate for both Rongai route itineraries.
The Rongai Route is the only route that approaches the summit from the north side of Kilimanjaro. Therefore, the scenery is one of unspoiled wilderness. There is a higher chance of seeing wildlife on this route than any other. After passing through rainforest you ascend through moorlands and then up into the high alpine zones before reaching the glacial zone.