Kilimanjaro Rongai Route
The Rongai route is basically one long hike with very gentle gradient and a low difficulty level. It is the only route that approaches from the Northern side of the mountain near the Kenyan border, and is the least frequently climbed if the 7 Kilimanjaro routes. It is recommended to do the 7 day itinerary due to a lack of climb high sleep low opportunities. It’s considered a good alternative to the more crowded Marangu route, especially for the ones preferring camping over huts.
Follow Alice’s view
The Rongai route is up there as one of our favourite Kilimanjaro routes, along with the Lemosho route. We recommend choosing this Kilimanjaro climb route if you want to avoid the crowds and are looking for a more unique experience on Mount Kilimanjaro. It is also good if you have less trekking experience and want a more relaxed climb with less steep parts. Though the climb high sleep low opportunities aren’t as good as on other routes, as long as you opt for the 7 day itinerary you will give yourself enough time to acclimatise.
✓ Only route that approaches from the North
✓ Possible in rainy season
✓ More likely to get clear views of the mountain
✓ Enjoy panoramic viewpoints
✓ Quieter than other routes
✓ Higher chance of seeing wildlife
– Can be considered less scenic than the other routes approaching from the west
– Flat climb profile and therefore does not offer trekkers the best options to climb high and sleep low
The Rongai route is for climbers who: want a more remote climb away from the crowds and are interested in seeing both sides of the mountain
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What is the scenery like on the Rongai route?
The Rongai route is popularly known for being one of the less scenic Kilimanjaro routes. However this mainly applies to day one of your assent, where instead of passing through dense rainforest you pass through open country and unspoiled wilderness. And if the rainforest is something you are definitely keen on experiencing, not to worry! You trek through this on your descent. So you’re not actually missing out on anything really. Furthermore, because the northern side of the mountain is less prone to rainfall, you are more likely to get clear, unclouded views of the mountain along the way. Woop!
How hard is the Rongai route?
No Kilimanjaro climb is easy, so it can be a tough question to answer. What makes a Kilimanjaro climb ‘hard’ can be different for everyone. Generally speaking, the Rongai route is considered a relatively easy climb. Its flat profile and very gentle gradient means that it could be considered more of a long hike. What makes the Rongai route hard is the acclimatisation profile, with less opportunities to climb high sleep low. You can combat this by making sure you add in an extra day for acclimatisation and opt for the 7 day route. Put simply, with the right Kilimanjaro preparation anyone can climb it. You should be physically fit, and with the right support in the form of your mountain crew, you can achieve the summit whether you have previous hiking experience or are a first time trekker.
What is the Rongai route summit success rate?
Due to its relatively flat profile, the Ronagi route has less climb high sleep low opportunities than other Kilimanjaro routes. This means that its acclimatisation profile is not as good. We therefore always recommend the 7 day route over the 6 day option, to give you an extra day for acclimatisation. Whilst there are no official statistics, the average success rate for the 7 day Rongai route across all Kilimanjaro operators is 80%, and 65% for the 6 day.
How busy is the Rongai route?
The Rongai route is the least frequented of the Kilimanjaro routes. The only route approaching from the northern side of the mountain, people often don’t consider the Rongai route because of the perception that it is not as beautiful. However, it is still a very scenic Kilimanjaro route, and it is very unique in this sense and is perfect for if you are looking for a more relaxed and quiet climb.
Good to note
Though the Rongai route is definitely the least frequented of all Kilimanjaro routes, over the last couple of years the route has grown in popularity. If you climb in peak season and start on a group departure date (most commonly a Sunday) you may experience some crowds. Speak to us for the latest updates on the Rongai route.
What is the accommodation on the Rongai route?
The Rongai route only offers camping accommodation. As part of our climbing package all of your camping equipment is included; tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and pillow. The tents are taken up and down each day by your dedicated mountain crew.
How long does it take to hike the Rongai route?
The Rongai route can be completed in a minimum of 6 days, but we recommend the 7 day Rongai route itinerary. The extra day gives you more time to acclimatise. Furthermore, climbing Kilimanjaro is not a race. The Rongai route has less climb high sleep low opportunities, and so the extra day is essential for your chances of a successful summit. In our experience most people who have completed the right Kilimanjaro preparation complete the 7 day Rongai route with no real problems.
What is the Rongai route cost?
Follow Alice offers the Rongai route as a 7 day group climb or private climb. Our 7 day Lemosho route package costs $2585 per person (based on double occupancy). This includes 7 days on the mountain and one day either side at our beautiful parter lodge in Arusha, Kigongoni Lodge. For more information on the inclusions / exclusions and more details about the trip, head to our Kilimanjaro climb page.
“The hike was super challenging for me because I suffered from pretty bad altitude sickness, but our team did everything they could to make me feel comfortable.” Alexandre Polise
7 Day Rongai Route Overview
Starting from Rongai Gate to the summit and finish at Marangu Gate
|Day||Start||Altitude (m)||Altitude (ft)||Finish||Altitude (m)||Altitude (ft)||Time (hrs)||Distance (km)||Distance (miles|
|1||Rongai Gate||1,950||6,398||Simba Camp||2,830||9,300||4||8||5|
|2||Simba Cave||2,830||9,300||2nd Cave||3,450||11,300||3-4||6||4|
|2nd Cave||3,450||11,300||Kikelelewa Cave||3,600||11,811||3-4||6||4|
|3||Kikelelewa Cave||3,600||11,811||Mawenzi Tarn||4,315||14,160||4||5||3|
|4||Mawenzi Tarn||4,315||14,160||Mawenzi Ridge||4,390||14,400||2-3||2||1|
|Mawenzi Ridge||4,390||14,400||Mawenzi Tarn||4,315||14,160||1-2||2||1|
|5||Mawenzi Tarn||4,315||14,160||Kibo Hut||4,703||15,430||5-6||8||5|
|6||Kibo Hut||4,703||15,430||Uhuru Peak||5,895||19,341||6-8||6||4|
|Uhuru Peak||5,895||19,341||Horombo Hut||3,720||12,205||4-5||16||10|
|7||Horombo Hut||3,720||12,205||Marangu Gate||1,843||6,046||5-7||20||12|
Rongai route itinerary
The Rongai route can be completed in various amounts of days, ranging from 6 – 8. However we always recommend the 7 day itinerary for optimum chances of acclimatisation. The 7 day Rongai route itinerary first approaches the mountain from the north. You’ll make your way over to Loitokok Park gate over by the Kenyan side of the mountain, which takes about 4 hours of driving from Moshi. From there you will pass through many different climatic zones on your way to achieving the summit at 5,895m above sea level. Descent is made via the Marangu route.
The Rongai route is the only Kilimanjaro route that approaches from the northern side of the mountain
Rongai Gate to Simba Camp
After an early breakfast, our guide will pick you up from the lodge and transfer you to Marangu Park gate. Here we get recorded and enter the national park. You begin your climb by trekking through the lush rainforest which opens up and boasts magnificent views of the cultivation down below. You will climb for 4 hours until you arrive at Simba Camp. You will stay here overnight.
Part 1 | Simba Camp to 2nd Cave
Today is split into two parts. The first half of the day will commence after you have breakfast at your campsite. You will then continue on your journey through the Moorland to 2nd Cave. This will take 3-4 hours.
Part 2 | 2nd Cave to Kikelelewa Cave
The second half of the journey will continue from 2nd cave to Kikelelewa where you will stay overnight. This leg of the day will take about 3-4 hours.
Kikelelewa Cave to Mawenzi Tarn
Today you will trek through the alpine desert through to Mawenzi Tarn Camp. The scenery for this part of the journey can be described as quite remarkable as the closer you get to Mawenzi Tarn, the greater the magnitude of the Mawenzi Ridge that towers above you. Today you will hike for about 4 hours.
Part 1 | Mawenzi Tarn to Mawenzi Ridge
This day is split into two halves for what is called a ‘climb high, sleep low’ process. This means that you will climb to a higher altitude before heading back down the mountain to a lower altitude where you will stay overnight. This helps you to acclimatise. After breakfast at the Mawenzi Tarn Camp, you will trek to the Mawenzie Ridge. This will take between 2-3 hours.
Part 2 | Mawenzie Ridge to Mawenzi Tarn
From Mawnzie Ridge, you will head back down to Mawenzi Tarn Camp where you will stay the night. This leg of the climb helps you acclimatise and prepare for your summit.
Mawenzi Tarn to Kibo Hut
Today you will trek for 5-6 hours through the alpine desert through to Kibo Hut. This is a gradual incline that heads west through the Saddle. The Saddle lies between the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi. You will come to Kibo Hut where you will stay overnight.
Part 1 | Kibo Hut to Uhuru Peak (summit day!)
Today is the day! Your summit day is also split into 2 parts. The first half of your journey will start much earlier than every other day. Your guide will wake you up at midnight so that you will reach the summit by sunrise. You will get a light breakfast here and make your way over rocky, moonlit trails to Uhuru Peak. Welcome to the Roof of Africa!
Part 2 | Uhuru Peak to Horombo Hut
Part 2 of your journey will see you make your way back down the mountain from Uhuru peak to Hormobo Hut, which is where you will stay overnight.
Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate
Today is the last day of your incredible journey! You do however have a relatively long hike down the mountain ahead of you. You will trek 5-7 hours from Horombo Hut back down to Marangu Gate, where you will bid Kilimanjaro farewell.
Feeling inspired to climb the Rongai route? Got some more questions that you want answered? Shoot us a message! We are always happy to hear from you.
Other useful Kilimanjaro posts
- Kilimanjaro routes
- Kilimanjaro packing list
- Best time to climb Kilimanjaro
- Kilimanjaro preparation
- Kilimanjaro safety
- Tipping on Kilimanjaro
- What is it like to climb Kilimanjaro
The 7 Kilimanjaro routes
- Lemosho Route
The Lemosho is the most beautiful Kilimanjaro route
- Machame Route
The Machame is the most popular Kilimanjaro route
- Marangu Route
The Marangu route only offers hut accommodation
- Rongai Route
The Rongai is the only route that approaches from the North
- Shira Route
The Shira route Approaches from the Western side of Kilimanjaro
- Northern Circuit Route
The Northern Circuit is the newest and longest Kilimanjaro route
- Umbwe Route
The Umbwe is the shortest, steepest and hardest Kilimanjaro route