In Blog, Routes, Trekking

There are several routes to climb Kilimanjaro, but how do you decide on which route to take. Obviously you want to make the summit so based on your experience level, which one would be the best route for you?

Below are the group climb routes we offer. In this article, we will focus on the 8-Day Rongai group climb.

Mawenzi Peak on the Rongai Route8-Day Rongai

The Rongai route is the only route to the summit that begins at the remote north side of Kilimanjaro. It starts near the border of Kenya.

Why is this route unique? For one, you hike through a true wilderness area as you approach the jagged Mawenzi Peak. It is one of the volcanic cones of Mount Kilimanjaro. The route also crosses the very barren desert saddle between Uhuru Peak and Mawenzi. There are also some shallow caves along the way that you can explore. Finally, as you make for the summit of Kibo, you will ascend to the Crater Rim from the East.

One of the benefits of accessing Uhuru Peak via the Rongai route is that it is a more gradual ascent. This makes it a good choice for people with little or no backpacking experience. However, just because it is more gradual, doesn’t mean it is any less enjoyable for even the most experienced trekkers. The Rongai route is a good choice for people who are looking for a quick hike with more gentle slopes.

8-Day Itinerary

The 8-day itinerary has an arrival and departure day built-in. That means that day one will not be on the mountain. Rather, you’ll arrive at the hotel in Moshi and have the trip briefing that day and start the hike the next morning.

When you arrive at the hotel look for your trip briefing time posted near the conference room. At the trip-briefing, we will perform a thorough equipment check. We will also give a health check to get your baseline stats. Additionally, we will confirm you have the appropriate mandatory medical coverage and travel insurance.

Kilimanjaro Day 1

The day will begin after breakfast. You’ll be driven to Kilimanjaro National Park entrance at Marangu where you’ll register with the Park Service. From there you drive to the Rongai route trailhead at Nale Moru (6,400 ft). As you grab your gear, the porters and guides will weigh all the equipment.

You’ll start the hike on a narrow path that winds through fields of maize and potatoes before entering a pine forest. The trail then starts to climb consistently, but gently through the rainforest. This forest shelters a variety of wildlife, including the Colobus monkey. These monkeys are black with a long ‘cape’ of white hair and a white flowing tail. The forest begins to thin out at the edge of the moorland zone. The trees begin to open up which gives you expansive views over the Kenyan plains. Finally, you’ll arrive at Rongai Camp One (8,500 ft) camp for the night. The hike usually takes about 3-4 hours, is approximately 4.3 miles and gains 2,100 ft.

colobus monkey on kilimanjaroKilimanjaro Day 2

The morning begins with breakfast and a short hike up a steady ascent to the Second Cave (11,300 ft). From this vantage point, you’ll have amazing views of Kibo and the Eastern Icefields on the Crater Rim. You’ll stop for lunch here. The afternoon trek has you departing the main trail and heading Southeast across the Moorland zone toward Mawenzi Peak. You’ll continue until you reach the sheltered valley near Kikelewa Caves (11,800 ft). You’ll camp here—surrounded by giant Groundsel trees—for the night. Hiking this day usually takes about 6-7 hours, covers 5.7 miles and ascends 3,300 ft.

Kilimanjaro Day 3

Today is a short hiking day. It is roughly 3-4 hours, covers 2.3 miles and ascends 2,400 ft. to the campsite at Mawenzi Tarn(14,200 ft). Along the way, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of Mawenzi Peak. The afternoon can be spent resting or exploring to acclimatize.

Kilimanjaro Day 4

Today’s trek continues through the lunar-like landscape saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo to reach Kibo Hut (15,400 ft). This campsite rests at the base of the Crater wall. It is a 5-6 hour day of hiking. You’ll travel 5.5 miles and climb 1,200 ft.

The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for an early morning final ascent.

Kilimanjaro Day 5

Today is your push for the Summit. A member of our mountain crew will wake you around midnight. At 1 am, you will start the final and most demanding part of the climb by headlamp. You’ll trudge very slowly along in the darkness on a switchback trail through loose volcanic scree to reach the crater rim at Gillman’s Point (18,600 ft). You’ll stop here to marvel at the sunrise as it makes its way over Mawenzi Peak. Those who are still feeling strong can continue the three-hour round trip to Uhuru Peak (19,345 ft). Along the way, you’ll pass close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area.

The descent to Kibo Hut (15,400 ft) is surprisingly fast. After some refreshments, you will continue the descent to Horombo Huts (12,200 ft) and camp for the night. This route covers 12.3 miles and takes 11-15 hours. It also gains 3,945 ft. of elevation and descends  7,145 ft.

Kilimanjaro Day 6

The final day on the mountain. The trail winds steadily down through the Moorland region to Mandara Huts (8,900 ft). It then continues the descent through the lush rainforest on a good path to the Kilimanjaro National Park gate at Marangu (6,000 ft). Once the guide checks you out of the Park and you celebrate, you’ll be transferred back to your lodge in Moshi. The descent takes approximately 5-6 hours covers 12.4 miles and drops 6,200 ft.

Video of the Rongai Route

Map of the Rongai Route

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