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Climb Mount Kilimanjaro: Rongai Route  The Natural Adventure Company

Climb Mount Kilimanjaro: Rongai Route

Overview

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest single free-standing mountain in the world at 5895 m above sea level. It is located in Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania and is one of the most popular climbing destinations globally. All our Kilimanjaro itineraries are privately guided – you can start on any date you wish, subject to availability, and we are happy to accommodate solo travellers, too (supplement may apply). We typically provide one chief English-speaking guide plus an assistant guide per every two people, as well as three porters per climber and one cook for the group. Our Kilimanjaro private departures offer arguably the best value for money on the market with an above-average success rate.

There are several trekking routes to the summit, and among them, the Rongai Route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, close to the Kenyan border. It is less crowded, has a more gradual slope than the other routes and therefore is recommended for those with less backpacking experience. Note however that on summit day the trek is a bit longer compared to the other routes. The route offers a unique wilderness experience as it is possible to spot wildlife like antelopes, elephants and buffalos on the way. It is the preferred one for those looking for an alternative to the popular Marangu Route, and still, the descent is via the Marangu Route, so you get the best of both. It is also the recommended route during the rainy season as the northern slopes fall within the rain shadow.

Our standard Rongai Route itinerary is 7 nights (6 trekking days, 8 days total). As all our departures are private, we can be quite flexible, and on request, we can adapt the itinerary and make it shorter or longer to suit your preferences and stamina.

Click to view map

*This map is for general reference only and it should not be used for navigation purposes.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Arusha | 1400 m

Pick up at Kilimanjaro international airport, met with your guide and drive to your hotel in Arusha, where you overnight before the trek begins.

Day 2: Rongai Gate – Simba Camp | 2626 m

Depart from Arusha and about 2-hour drive to the Marangu park gate for registration. From there you travel to Naro Muru, north-east of Kilimanjaro, a further 68 km and approximately 1.5 hours to the Rongai start point (1996 m). Meet your guide and porters before you begin your hike from the Nale Muru village. The small winding path crosses maize fields before entering pine forest and then climbs gently through a forest. The trail is not steep, rather a gentle hike through beautiful countryside. The first night’s camp is at Simba Camp (2626 m). The camp facilities include a public toilet and a wooden table with benches, but no hut.

  • Hiking for the day: 3-4 hours, ~7 km ↑638 m; final elevation: 2626 m

Day 3: Simba Camp – Kikelewa Camp | 3679 m

You hike from Simba camp towards Kibo with a stop at First Caves for lunch. After lunch, you continue trekking until reaching Kikelewa Camp at about 3679 m. The views start to open up, and you begin to feel you are on a really big mountain! Water can be found in a stream below the cave. Enjoy dinner and overnight at Kikelewa camp.

  • Hiking for the day: 6-7 hours, ~12 km ↑1040 m; final elevation: 3679 m

Day 4: Kikelewa Camp – Mawenzi Tarn Camp | 4303 m

A short but steep climb up grassy slopes awaits today with superb views of this wilderness area. The vegetation zone ends shortly before you reach your next camp at Mawenzi Tarn spectacularly situated beneath the towering spires of Mawenzi. Spend the afternoon acclimatizing and exploring the area.

  • Hiking for the day: 3-4 hours, ~4 km ↑627 m; final elevation: 4303 m

Day 5: Mawenzi Tarn Camp – Kibo Hut | 4700 m

After breakfast, you head west and continue ascending on the east side of Kibo crossing the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo taking 4 to 5 hours to reach Kibo Hut. Situated in the barren Alpine desert, Kibo hut is a stone-built block house which has bunk beds for 60 climbers, but no water nearby. It is, however, possible to buy mineral water and soft drinks at the camp office. There are platform toilets behind the hut. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent, which begins around midnight. Overnight at Kibo hut.

  • Hiking for the day: 5 hours, ~9 km ↑400 m; final elevation: 4700 m

Day 6: Kibo Hut – The Summit – Horombo Hut | 5895 m

Wake up at about midnight, and after some tea and biscuits, you shuffle off into the night, and this is where it really gets tough. The first section of the trail consists of a rocky path to the Hans Meyer Cave (5150 m), also a good resting spot. The path then zigzags up to Gillman’s Point (5681 m), which is located on the crater rim. This section is very steep with a lot of stone scree, requiring a great physical and mental effort. Probably the most demanding section of the entire route. Move slowly. From Gillman’s Point, you will normally encounter snow all the way up to Uhuru peak (5895 m), the highest point in Africa. Weather conditions on the summit will determine how long you will be able to spend, taking photographs, before the 3-hour descent back to Kibo hut. After a short rest, you gather all the gear you left behind for the ascent and head down to Horombo hut for your overnight. The return to Horombo hut will seem surprisingly fast compared to the ascent. The total walking time is around 14 hours, so be prepared for a very tough day. Later in the evening, you enjoy your last dinner (with soft drinks and beer offered at the camp office) on the mountain and a well-earned sleep, filled with memories and stirring emotions.

Hiking for the day:

  • Kibo – Uhuru: 6-8 hours, ~6 km ↑1180 m; final elevation: 5895 m
  • Uhuru – Horombo Hut: 5-6 hours, ~16 km, ↓2174 m; final elevation: 3720 m

Day 7: Horombo Hut – Marangu Gate – Arusha | 1400 m

After breakfast you continue your descent, passing the Mandara hut, down to the Marangu gate. It is strongly recommended not to pay your porters any tips until you and all your gear have reached the gate safely. At Marangu gate, you sign your name and details in a register. This is also where successful climbers receive their summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Gillman’s Point (5685 m) are issued green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895 m), receive gold certificates. Transfer to your hotel in Arusha.

  • Hiking for the day: 6-7 hours, ~20 km ↓1816 m; final elevation: 1400 m
  • Overnight in Arusha: SG Premium Resort or similar

Day 8: Departure

Transfer to Kilimanjaro Airport and departure. Possible safari extension on request.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation in Arusha is in a 3-star hotel on a twin share basis. The accommodation during the hike is in tents and dormitories in huts in the camps. There is no electricity in the camps inside the national park, and we recommend climbers to bring battery chargers they can plug in the car, or the driver will take you to the nearest lodge to charge batteries. There are 60 bunk beds at Kibo Hut, and 120 bunk beds at Horombo Hut. Guests in the huts are supplied with mattresses and pillows, but sleeping bags are required. The huts have communal dining halls and basic washrooms, ranging from flushing toilets and running water at the lower huts to long drop toilets and buckets of water at Kibo Hut. There are no showers in the tented camps and no Wi-Fi.

Sample hotel in Arusha: SG Premium Resort

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a property of equal standard. We will provide full accommodation details upon booking confirmation.

Meals

All meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – are included during the hike – from lunch on day 2 to the lunch on day 7. In Arusha, only breakfast is included. A typical breakfast includes porridge, fruits, omelette, toasted bread, cheese, sausages, coffee, tea, hot chocolate. A lunch box contains chicken or fish, fruits, biscuits, chocolate, fruit juice. Dinner includes soup, bread, pasta, rice, chicken, fruits, tea, coffee etc. A vegetarian menu can be arranged on request.

Difficulty & terrain

This is a demanding trek but not a technical climb (read more about difficulty grades). Both experienced hikers and beginners can do the tour as it does not require technical skills and mountaineering equipment. But it is mandatory that you are in great shape and should have properly trained before the tour. Walking pace will be slow and steady. The Rongai route is the preferred route for those looking for an alternative to the popular Marangu route, for those who would like a more remote hike. It is moderately difficult and is recommended for those with less backpacking experience.

When to go

This trip is available with daily private departures, year-round. In April and May, there are generally fewer climbers because of the rainy season but still, it is the best route during these months (the north side receives less precipitation). Mt. Kilimanjaro climate features 5 different zones. At the beginning of the climb, the average temperature is around 27°C to 32°C and tends to be relatively stable year-round. At the summit, Uhuru Peak, evening temperatures range between -18°C to -26°C. As the weather is often unpredictable, you should always be prepared for lower temperatures than expected and for rain even in the dry season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Recommended airport: Kilimanjaro International Airport

  • Transfers Kilimanjaro Airport – Arusha and Arusha – Kilimanjaro Airport are included in the price (one arrival and one departure transfer per party)
  • It is also possible to fly to Nairobi Aiport and take a shuttle to Arusha, about 5-hour drive. You will need a visa to Kenya.

Good to know

  • Guides: the guides used are highly trained and qualified, registered with the Kilimanjaro National Parks Board. There will be one chief guide, and one assistant guide will be provided if more than 2 climbers are travelling.
  • Visas: the citizens of most European countries, the USA, Canada, Australia, need a visa to enter Tanzania, it is recommended that you apply online for an eVisa in advance
  • Luggage transportation: your luggage will be placed in specially designed waterproof bags carried by the porters, giving it that extra protection if it is wet on the mountain.
  • Altitude sickness: while climbing, you may experience different symptoms of mild altitude sickness, with the most common being headaches, light-headedness, nausea, sleeplessness and a loss of appetite, loss of balance and dizziness. In most cases, these can be controlled by taking painkillers such as panadol or similar. It’s important to eat well and maintain your energy. Staying hydrated is essential, and you should drink a minimum of 3 litres daily.
  • Sun injuries: it is strongly recommended to use a 30+ sun protection cream at lower altitudes, and a total block cream above an altitude of 3000 m. Wearing sunglasses when climbing is a must, especially for the summit hike as the morning reflection of the sun can lead to snow blindness.
  • Tips guidelines: head guide – 200-250 USD; assistant guide – 100-150 USD; cook – 100-120 USD; porter – 30-40 USD
  • Equipment: we recommend that you travel as lightly as possible, bringing backpacks and not suitcases.

Inclusions

Included

  • Transfers from/to Kilimanjaro Airport
  • Transfers to/from the national park gates
  • 6-day Rongai route trek with a full board from lunch on day 2 to lunch on day 7
  • 2 overnights at a 3-star hotel in Arusha in private rooms with ensuite facilities and included breakfast
  • All park fees and government taxes
  • Tents and mattresses, tables and chairs, dining tent on the trek
  • Private chemical toilet available on all days
  • Boiled water
  • First aid kit box, oxygen cylinder
  • Services of a private English-speaking professional mountain guide
  • 3 porters per climber, 1 cook per party

Excluded

  • Airfare
  • Lunches and dinners in Arusha, drinks, snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips to guides and porters
  • Sleeping bag, own climbing equipment
  • Tanzanian visa
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as some costs are not shared
  • Extra nights in Arusha are available upon request
  • A sleeping bag can be rented on the spot for about 20 USD

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