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Overview of Rongai Route

Kilimanjaro Rongai route

The Rongai route is the only route that approaches the summit from the northern side of the mountain, near the Kenyan border. It’s one of the least crowded of the seven Kilimanjaro routes. It’s recommended to do the seven-day itinerary (as opposed to the six-day itinerary) as the topography of this trail doesn’t afford many opportunities to ‘climb high, sleep low’. The seven-day itinerary includes an acclimatization day at Mawenzi Tarn Camp, which gives your body time to adjust to the higher elevation.

Rongai Overview

The Rongai route is the only route that approaches the summit of Kilimanjaro from north of the mountain. It’s a good route choice for those looking to climb during the rainy season, as the north side of the mountain receives less precipitation. We recommend choosing this route if you want to avoid the crowds. It’s also a good option if you have less or no trekking experience and want a more relaxed climb with fewer steep sections. (you might also like to read our trekking tips for beginners.)

Rongai route

Though there aren’t opportunities to climb high and sleep low on the Rongai, if you opt for the seven-day itinerary over the six-day you have an an acclimatization day at Mawenzi Tarn Camp. We highly recommend this.

Highlights

✓ Only route that approaches from the North

✓ Possible in the rainy season

✓ Usually offers the clearest views of the mountain

✓ Panoramic views

✓ Quieter than the other routes

✓ High chance of seeing wildlife

Considerations

– A little less scenic than the other routes approaching from the west

– Flat climb profile, so doesn’t provide opportunities 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.

What is the scenery like on the Rongai route?

The Rongai route is often considered one of the less scenic Kilimanjaro routes. However, because the northern side of the mountain is less prone to rainfall, you’re more likely to get clear, unclouded views of the mountaintop along the way. Whoop whoop!

How hard is the Rongai route?

No Kilimanjaro climb is easy – it’s important you know that. But relatively speaking the Rongai route is considered one of the ‘easier’ routes, as it has a gentle incline throughout. It’s a bit of a longer hike for this reason. What makes the Rongai route ‘hard’ is its less-than-ideal acclimatisation profile, because it doesn’t often have you climb high during the day and then drop back down for the night, which is a key strategy in helping one’s body acclimatise to the increases in elevation. In fact, there’s only one day on the trail when you climb high and then sleep low. You can combat this by opting for the seven-day itinerary over the six-day one to at least give your body another day to adjust to the changes in altitude on your ascent. Put simply, with the right Kilimanjaro preparation anyone can climb it.

Note that you should be physically fit to attempt to climb Kilimanjaro, though you don’t need any previous trekking experience. The Rongai route is not technical at all, meaning a good pair of hiking boots strapped onto some decently strong legs is all you need. That said, if you’re new to multiday hikes, we recommend you read our trekking tips for beginners.

What is the Rongai route’s summit success rate?

Whilst there are no official statistics, the average success rate for the seven-day Rongai route across all Kilimanjaro operators is 80%, and 65% for the six-day route. If you compare these statistics with those of routes like the Lemosho route and Northern Circuit route, you’ll see they aren’t particularly good. The reason for this low success rate is the route’s poor acclimatisation profile: it only offers one opportunity to climb high and sleep low. Days when you hike up to a new altitude and then descend to a lower altitude for the night are incredibly helpful for acclimatisation.

How busy is the Rongai route?

The Rongai route is the least frequented of the Kilimanjaro routes. It’s the only route to approach the summit from the northern side of the mountain. Trekkers often don’t consider the Rongai route because of the perception that it’s not as beautiful. However, it’s actually a very beautiful Kilimanjaro route. We think it’s a good choice if you’re looking for a quieter, more relaxed climb.

Though the Rongai route is one of the least frequented the 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.

Hydration is key when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro Hydration is key when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – for one thing, it helps reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness

What is accommodation like on the Rongai route?

The Rongai route offers camping accommodation only. We provide all of your camping equipment, including your tent, sleeping mat and pillow. Further, all tents are pitched and taken down by our dedicated mountain crew throughout the trek.

How long does it take to hike the Rongai route?

The Rongai route can be completed in six days, but we recommend you do it over seven days. The extra day gives you more time to acclimatize. Most people need the extra day to acclimatize properly and so have a good chance of successfully summiting the mountain. In our experience most people who have completed the right Kilimanjaro preparation complete the seven-day Rongai route with no real problems. And finally, climbing Kilimanjaro isn’t a race. If you’re travelling all the way to Tanzania to climb the mountain, don’t rush the experience!

What is the Rongai route cost?

offers the Rongai route as a seven-day group or private climb. Our seven-day Rongai route

7-day Rongai route Rongai route elevation in profile

The trek starts at Rongai Gate. You climb to the summit, then descend the mountain to finish at Marangu Gate. This means you don’t retrace your steps on the Rongai route but are always trekking new trail.

Day        Start      Altitude (m)       Altitude (ft)        Finish    Altitude (m)       Altitude (ft)        Time (hr)             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     Second Cave      3,450     11,300   3-4          6              4

                Second Cave      3,450     11,300   Kikelewa Cave   3,600     11,811   3-4          6              4

3              Kikelewa Cave   3,600     11,811   Mawenzi Tarn Camp       4,315     14,160   4              5              3

4              Mawenzi Tarn Camp       4,315     14,160   Mawenzi Ridge 4,390     14,400   2-3          2              1

                Mawenzi Ridge 4,390     14,400   Mawenzi Tarn Camp       4,315     14,160   1-2          2              1

5              Mawenzi Tarn Camp       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

                                                                Total                                                     79           49

The two graphs below show the elevation of the Rongai route in profile – first in metres, then in feet. They offer a nice visual of the gradual climb involved in trekking the Rongai route.

Rongai Route
The Rongai route is the easiest route up Kilimanjaro. It has a reputation as a remote wilderness trail. Rongai is the only route to approach Kilimanjaro from the north.

Duration: 5 or 6 days

Advantages:

  • The easiest Kilimanjaro route.
  • One of the quieter routes on Kilimanjaro.
  • Approaches the mountain from the driest side, best chances of good weather.
  • Ascent and descent are on opposite sides, you see both sides of Kilimanjaro. (You descend on the Marangu route.)

Disadvantages:

  • Higher cost due to additional travel to reach other side.
  • Considered somewhat less scenic.

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