The main appeal of the Rongai Route is the sensation of unspoiled wilderness climbers feel for the first 4 days, which is a stark contrast from the popular Marangu Route and its mountain huts and snack stands at every camp.
The Main problem with Rongai is that it is visually quite uninteresting and focused on a section of the Kilimanjaro Forest that is severely impacted by deforestation and exotic tree plantations, so although it is remote, it is also not by any means the most attractive trail, besides which it intersects with Marangu so the illusion of isolation is brief.
Day 4 of Rongai ends at Kibo Hut, where it intersects with Marangu Route for its final two days. Day 5 of Rongai is the long and brutal summit day, which begins at midnight of Day 4 after only about 4 hours sleep. After reaching the Uhuru Summit in mid morning on Day 5, Rongai climbers descend on Marangu Route so the final night on the mountain is spent at the often-crowded Horombu Hut complex.
Rongai Gate (1,800m/5,900ft) to First Cave Camp (2,600m/8,400ft) Elevation Gain: 760 meters, 2,000 feet Hiking time: 4 – 6 hours After an early breakfast in Moshi, drive for about 1:30 hours to the Rongai Gate near the Kenya border. After registering at the gate, begin your climb to Uhuru Peak, the roof of Africa. First hike through forests where you may see and hear wildlife. Eat lunch on the trail before continuing to the first campsite. Rongai ascends via the less forested northern side of the mountain. The Rongai Route is one of the least crowded routes on Kilimanjaro because of the long drive to the gate. The Rongai trail is thought to have the best chance of viewing wildlife.
First Cave Camp (2,600m/8,400ft) to Kikelewa Camp (3,600m/11,810ft) Elevation Gain: 1,000 meters, 3,280 feet Hiking time: 4 – 6 hours Hike through Kilimanjaro’s moorland. The Rongai route is relatively short and steep, making for shorter hiking times. During the hike, view Mawenzi Peak ahead.
Kikelewa Camp (3,600m/11,810ft) to Mawenzi Tarn Camp (4,330m/14,200ft) Elevation Gain: 730 meters, 2,390 feet Hiking time: 4 – 6 hours This more leisurely acclimatization day starts with a morning hike followed by a rest in the afternoon and evening. The hike is relatively short but steep. The Mawenzi Tarn campsite is situated below Mawenzi Peak and offers stunning views of both Mawenzi and Kibo.
Mawenzi Tarn Camp (4,330m/14,200ft) to Kibo Camp (4,750m/15,580ft) Elevation Gain: 420 meters/1380 feet Hiking time: 4 – 6 hours Cross the lunar landscape of the saddle on this day to arrive at the final campsite. Kibo Camp is situated directly below the Kibo cone, giving you stunning uninterrupted views of your final destination.
Kibo Camp (4,750m/15,580ft) to Uhuru Peak (5,895m/19,340ft) to Horombo Hut (3,720m/12,200ft) Elevation Gain: 1,145 meters, 3,760 feet Elevation Loss: 2,175 meters, 7,140 feet Hiking time: 6 hours to the rim, 1.5 hours to Uhuru, 4 hours to Kibo, 4 hours to Horombo Around midnight, begin the final ascent to Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa. Hike by the light of your flashlight for the next six hours. The ascent to the crater rim is the most challenging part of the entire trek. The trail is very steep until you reach the crater rim at Gilman’s Point.
The hike from Gilman’s to Uhuru Peak is a gradual climb and, as far as hikes go, not very difficult. The altitude, however, makes the hike long and tiring. The crater rim hike takes about two hours. Upon reaching Uhuru, take photos of your guide and group at the peak before beginning the descent to Horombo Hut.
Horombo Hut (3,720m/12,200ft) to Marangu Gate (1,800m/5,905ft) Elevation Loss: 1,920 meters, 6,295 feet Hiking time: 6 – 8 hours After breakfast, finish the trek with a descent to Marangu Gate. Your last hike on Kilimanjaro is a beautiful one, passing through Kilimanjaro’s cloud forest. Watch your step during the descent, as the trail can be slippery. Our vehicles will be waiting at Marangu Gate to take you back to Moshi.