Rongai Route

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Total Distance: 74.4 Km

No Of People Climbing: 589 Per Year

Trek Difficulty: Easy

Duration: 6-7 days

Success rate: Medium

Rongai Route Overview

The northern Rongai route offers a relatively “easy” climb, a high success rate, a gradual and steady ascent, plus wildlife watching in the wilderness. The main draw of this Kilimanjaro route is the chance to get away from the crowds, so you can enjoy the incredible scenery. The six-day route via Mawenzi Tarn staying in well-staggered camps also means you’ll have more time to acclimatize and less risk of altitude sickness.

Although considered to be less scenic than the Lemosho and Machame routes, there are still oases of wilderness, especially on the later days of the hike and the camp beneath Mawenzi Peak is noted as one of the most scenic on the mountain. An additional benefit of the Rongai route is than the northern side of Kilimanjaro tends to be drier, so weather conditions are more favourable for climbing and camping. This is a big plus to consider if you’re trekking during Tanzania’s wetter seasons.

The Rongai Route is known for being the only route that approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the north, near the Kenyan border. It offers a unique perspective on the mountain and is one of the less crowded routes, making it a great option for those seeking a quieter trek. Here’s a detailed overview:

Key Features:

  • Length and Duration:

    • The route is approximately 72 kilometers (45 miles) long.
    • Typically, the climb takes 6-7 days, with an optional extra acclimatization day.
  • Starting Point:

    • The trek begins at the Rongai Gate, located at an altitude of about 1,950 meters (6,400 feet).
  • Major Campsites:

    • Simba Camp: The first campsite, located at 2,600 meters (8,530 feet).
    • Second Cave Camp: Situated at 3,450 meters (11,320 feet).
    • Kikelelwa Camp: At 3,600 meters (11,811 feet), known for its scenic location.
    • Mawenzi Tarn Camp: At 4,315 meters (14,160 feet), located at the base of Mawenzi Peak.
    • Kibo Hut: The final camp before the summit push, located at 4,700 meters (15,420 feet).
  • Summit Attempt:

    • The summit push starts from Kibo Hut around midnight.
    • Climbers aim to reach Uhuru Peak (5,895 meters / 19,341 feet) by sunrise.
  • Descent Route:

    • The descent is typically via the Marangu Route, providing a different perspective of the mountain.


  • Less Crowded: The Rongai Route is less crowded compared to the southern routes, offering a more tranquil trekking experience.
  • Gentler Gradient: The route has a gentler ascent profile, making it easier for climbers to acclimatize.
  • Diverse Scenery: Climbers experience a variety of landscapes, including rainforest, moorland, and alpine desert.

Preparation and Considerations:

  • Physical Fitness: Adequate physical preparation is essential due to the demanding nature of the climb.
  • Altitude Sickness: While the gentler gradient helps with acclimatization, climbers should still be aware of altitude sickness symptoms and take appropriate measures.
  • Gear and Equipment: Proper gear, including warm clothing, sturdy hiking boots, and a high-quality sleeping bag, is necessary.
  • Guides and Porters: Hiring experienced guides and porters is mandatory and enhances safety and the overall experience.

Typical Itinerary:

  1. Day 1: Rongai Gate to Simba Camp
  2. Day 2: Simba Camp to Second Cave Camp
  3. Day 3: Second Cave Camp to Kikelelwa Camp
  4. Day 4: Kikelelwa Camp to Mawenzi Tarn Camp
  5. Day 5: Mawenzi Tarn Camp to Kibo Hut
  6. Day 6: Kibo Hut to Summit to Horombo Hut (via Marangu Route)
  7. Day 7: Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate

Route Advantages:

  • Remote and Tranquil: The route’s less crowded nature offers a more peaceful and intimate trekking experience.
  • Good for Acclimatization: The gentler gradient and longer itinerary provide better acclimatization opportunities.
  • Unique Perspective: Approaching from the north offers unique and less-seen views of Kilimanjaro and the surrounding landscape.

The Rongai Route is ideal for climbers looking for a quieter and more gradual ascent with diverse scenery. Its unique approach from the north and less crowded trails make it a great choice for those seeking a more solitary and serene Kilimanjaro experience.

Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Guide

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