The Rongai route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, close to the Kenyan border. Though gaining popularity amongst climbers, Rongai has low traffic. It is the preferred route for those looking for an alternative to the crowded Marangu route, for those who would like a more remote hike, and for those who are climbing during the rainy season (the north side receives less precipitation).
Rongai Gate to Rongai Cave, Elevation: 6,398 ft to 9,300 ft, Distance: 8 km/5 miles, Hiking Time: 3-4 hours, Habitat: Rain Forest
We depart from Arusha to Rongai Gate trailhead. The path winds through corn and potato fields and then climbs gently through the forest which is home to a variety of wildlife, including the black and white colobus monkey.
Rongai Cave to to Second Cave, Elevation: 9,300 ft to 11,300 ft, Distance: 6 km/4 miles, Hiking Time: 3-4 hours, Habitat: Heath
Second Cave to Kikelewa Cave, Elevation: 11,300 ft to 11,811 ft, Distance: 6 km/4 miles, Hiking Time: 3-4 hours, Habitat: Heath
We begin this morning with a steady incline up to Second Cave. We continue trekking though moorland, leaving the main trail for a smaller path towards the jagged peaks of Mawenzi, before finally arriving at Kikelewa Cave for the night.
Kikelewa Cave to Mawenzi Tarn, Elevation: 11,811 ft to 14,160 ft, Distance: 5 km/3 miles, Hiking Time: 3-4 hours, Habitat: Alpine Desert
The hike today is short and steep up a grassy slope. Views of the wilderness area are stunning. As we exit the heath zone and emerge into the Alpine Desert zone, the landscape changes dramatically. Our camp is situated beneath the jagged spires of Mawenzi, at Mawenzi Tarn. The remainder of the day can be spent relaxing or exploring the area.
Mawenzi Tarn to Mawenzi Ridge, Elevation (ft): 14,160 ft -14,400 ft, Distance: 2 km/1 mile, Hiking Time: 1-2 hours, Habitat: Alpine Desert
Mawenzi Ridge to Mawenzi Tarn, Elevation (ft): 14,400 ft -14,160 ft, Distance: 2 km/1 mile, Hiking Time: 1-2 hours, Habitat: Alpine Desert
This is an extra day meant for acclimatization and can be spent day hiking on Mawenzi Ridge. The unique landscape offers motivating views of Kibo and Mawenzi. After spending a few moments exploring the area we head back to Mawenzi Tarn for camp.
Marwenzi Tarn to Kibo Hut, Elevation (ft): 14,160 ft to 15,430 ft, Distance: 8 km/5 miles, Hiking Time: 5-6 hours, Habitat: Alpine Desert
We climb gradually, then cross the lunar desert of the “Saddle” between Mawenzi and Kibo. Our camp, Kibo Hut, sits at the bottom of the Kibo crater wall. Once here we rest, enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day.
Kibo Hut to Uhuru Peak, Elevation (ft): 15,430 ft to 19,341 ft, Distance: 6 km/4 miles, Hiking Time: 6-8 hours, Habitat: Arctic
Uhuru Peak to Horombo Hut, Elevation (ft): 19,341 ft to 12,250 ft, Distance: 16 km/10 miles, Hiking Time: 4-5 hours, Habitat: Heath
Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. At Gilman’s point (18,600 ft), you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.
After spending a few moments taking in the plains of Africa and your accomplishment, we descend to Horombo Hut. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.
Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate, Elevation (ft): 12,205 ft to 6,046 ft, Distance: 20 km/12 miles, Hiking Time: 5-7 hours, Habitat: Rain Forest
On our last day, we have a long trek mostly downhill through the tropical rainforest. Once at the park headquarters at Marangu gate, we collect our summit certificates. A vehicle will meet us here and drive us back to the hotel in Arusha.
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