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7-Day Rongai Route

The only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north and is close to the Kenyan border is the Rongai route. Despite growing in popularity among climbers, this route still sees few visitors. Compared to the other routes up the mountain, Rongai has a gentler slope. It is the preferred route for climbers who want an alternative to the well-known Marangu route, prefer a more remote hike, and are climbing during the wet season (the north side receives less precipitation). The moderately challenging Rongai route comes highly recommended, especially for those with little to no prior backpacking experience.

Rongai makes up for the lack of variety in the landscape with nearly its entire route being spent in true wilderness areas. The Marangu route is used for the descent.

Day by Day Overview

Elevation: 6,398 ft to 9,300 ft

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

Distance: 8 km | 5 miles

Habitat: Rain Forest

Before making the quick transfer to the Rongai Gate trailhead, we travel from Moshi to Marangu Gate to obtain permits. The path meanders through fields of corn and potatoes before gently ascending through a forest, where various animals live, including the black and white colobus monkey.

Rongai Cave to to Second Cave

Elevation: 9,300 ft to 11,300 ft

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

Second Cave to Kikelewa Cave

Elevation: 11,300 ft to 11,811 ft

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

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Distance: 6 km | 4 miles

Habitat: Health

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Distance: 6 km | 4 miles

Habitat: Health

This morning, we start with a gradual ascent to Second Cave. Following a smaller path that leads to the craggy peaks of Mawenzi, we continue our trek through moorland before arriving at Kikelewa Cave for the night.

Elevation: 11,811 ft to 14,160 ft

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

Distance: 5 km | 3 miles

Habitat: Alpine Desert

Today’s hike is a quick ascent of a grassy slope. Beautiful views of the wilderness area can be seen. The landscape drastically changes as we move from the heath zone into the Alpine Desert zone. At Mawenzi Tarn, our camp is located beneath the craggy spires of Mawenzi. The rest of the day can be used for leisure activities or local exploration.

Mawenzi Tarn to Mawenzi Ridge

Elevation: 14,160 ft -14,400 ft

Hiking Time: 1-2 hours

Mawenzi Ridge to Mawenzi Tarn

Elevation: 14,400 ft -14,160 ft

Hiking Time: 1-2 hours

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Distance: 2 km | 1 miles

Habitat: Alpine Desert

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Distance: 2 km | 1 miles

Habitat: Alpine Desert

On the second day, which is for acclimatization, you can go day hiking on Mawenzi Ridge. Views of Kibo and Mawenzi are particularly inspiring due to the unusual topography. We take a quick stroll around the neighborhood before heading back to Mawenzi Tarn to pitch our tents.

Elevation: 14,160 ft to 15,430 ft

Hiking Time: 5-6 hours

Distance: 8 km | 5 miles

Habitat: Alpine Desert

Between Mawenzi and Kibo, we gradually ascent before crossing the “Saddle,” a lunar desert. At the base of the Kibo crater wall is where our camp, Kibo Hut, is located. After arriving, we take a nap and eat a light dinner to get ready for the summit day.

School Hut to Uhuru Peak

Elevation: 15,430 ft to 19,341 ft

Hiking Time: 6-8 hours

Uhuru Peak to Horombo Hut

Elevation: 19,341 ft to 12,250 ft

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours

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Distance: 6 km | 4 miles

Habitat: Arctic

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Distance: 16 km | 10 miles

Habitat: Health

We start the ascent very early in the morning (around midnight). The hardest part of the trek both physically and mentally is this section. At this altitude and time of day, the wind and cold can be very strong. We climb in the dark for several hours, stopping frequently but only briefly. You will be rewarded with the most breathtaking sunrise you are ever likely to see approaching Mawenzi Peak at Gilman’s Point (18,600 feet). Finally, we reach Uhuru Peak, which is both Mount Kilimanjaro’s and Africa’s highest point.

We descend to Horombo Hut after pausing for a short while to admire your accomplishment and the African plains. We have our final meal on the mountain later in the evening before a well-earned rest.

Elevation: 12,205 ft to 6,046 ft

Hiking Time: 5-7 hours

Distance: 20 km | 12 miles

Habitat: Rain Forest

We have a long, mostly downhill trek through the tropical rainforest on our final day. We pick up our summit certificates once we arrive at the park headquarters at the Marangu gate. We’ll be met by a car that will take us back to the Moshi hotel.

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