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.
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.
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.
Kilimanjaro 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
Interested in Booking Your Rongai Climb?
Climbing Kilimanjaro is challenging. And nothing causes more excitement than the final push to the summit. While most other days are pretty tame by comparison, summit night is very strenuous. It begins with a wake up call in the middle of the night, followed by a 4,000 foot climb in cold, dark and windy conditions. […]
George Mallory, an English mountaineer, was asked by a reporter in 1923 why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. At the time, no one had ever been to the top of Everest. Mallory had participated on two expeditions on the world’s tallest peak, but failed to reach the summit both times. He replied, “Because it’s there.” Mallory explained, “Its existence is a challenge. The answer is instinctive, a part, I suppose, of man’s desire to conquer the Universe.” When people make the decision to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the Seven Summits, the reasons vary. Some people do it on a whim, without much thought. It could simply be that someone asked them to come along. Or they were traveling in Tanzania already. For others, the choice is much deeper. It could be a personal achievement. Or to honor someone else or a certain cause. "Why did you climb Kilimanjaro?"- We posed this question to each of our Peak Planet blog authors.
Hiking is an inherently strenuous activity. Depending on factors such as body weight, pack weight and degree of incline, one might burn between 300-600 calories an hour. In addition, acclimatization to high altitude leads to a slight increase in basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy needed to keep your body functioning. More on that later. Considering that the typical daily hike can take four to seven hours and the brutal summit day can take between 11 and 15 hours, the math here begins to add up quickly. It is conceivable to burn somewhere in the range of 1000 to 3000 calories on a normal day and a whopping 3000 to 6000 calories or more on summit day. Though energy expenditure on Kilimanjaro is variable from person to person, a shared set of factors determine where one might fall on that spectrum. There have been studies that have examined weight loss at high altitude which have found that people do burn more calories. However, exercise at high altitudes cannot fully explain why weight loss occurs.
This is an article from our expert staff on pant recommendations to keep you dry, comfortable, and warm for your entire Kilimanjaro trip.
We recommend using trekking poles on Kilimanjaro unless you are an experienced backpacker that is used to hiking on unstable terrain over several hours.
Having the right footwear is immensely important on Mount Kilimanjaro. With every step you take, and you will take thousands, your shoe has to perform well. There is no piece of gear that is more crucial than your footwear. Let's discuss the three types of shoes that are used in hiking and backpacking.
A capable backpack is required for climbing Kilimanjaro. Your backpack will hold all of your daily necessities and you’ll carry it with you on your hikes. Inside, you will want extra clothing layers that you’ll put on and take off trek such as a fleece jacket, hat, gloves, and waterproof rain gear. Additionally, you will have water, snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen, and perhaps a camera. To get all of this gear into a pack, I suggest a 30-40-liter capacity daypack and nothing smaller. Many companies now make gender-specific packs. I highly recommend these, as they have features designed for different body shapes and characteristics. Make sure you know your torso length so you can select the right sized pack.
What makes summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest freestanding mountain and African’s tallest mountain, obtainable to many is that no technical mountaineering skills are required along most routes. What is commonly believed is that anyone who is in decent shape has a good shot at making it to the top. To understand how fit you need to be, it’s useful to know what you will be required to complete on a day-to-day basis. On the days leading up to summit night, you need to be able to hike from three to seven hours, and then get up and do it all over again for multiple days in a row.
Do you have what it takes to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro? Though impossible to know for sure till your trials on the mountain begin, the odds are already working in your favor. Kilimanjaro requires absolutely no technical climbing expertise. Years of hiking and backpacking are not requisite to successfully tackling the highest freestanding mountain in the world! Many first-time hikers do well on this adventure. People ranging from age 6 to 89 have found their moment of glory atop Uhuru Peak.
You are ready to book your Kilimanjaro trip, except for one thing - you can't decide which route to take! How do you decide between the many different routes? Peak Planet offers climbs on Machame, Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho, Northern Circuit and Northern Crater. All of these will allow you to experience beautiful and distinct landscapes as you make your way from the rainforest to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. While you really can’t go wrong with any of these routes, there is likely a route that is better suited for you and your particular situation.