Rongai Route

The Rongai route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, close to the Kenyan border. Though gaining popularity amongst climbers, this route still experiences low crowds.

Rongai has a more gradual slope than the mountain’s other routes. It is the preferred route for those looking for an alternative to the popular 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 is a moderately difficult route and is highly recommended, especially for those with less backpacking experience.

Although the scenery is not as varied as the western routes, Rongai makes up for this by passing through true wilderness areas for nearly the entire way. Descent is made via the Marangu route.

How Long is the Rongai Route?

The distance of the Rongai route is approximately 81 km or 50 miles.

How Many Days Does it Take to Climb Kilimanjaro on the Rongai Route?

The Rongai route is typically done in 6 or 7 days.

How Hard is it to Climb Kilimanjaro on the Rongai Route?

The Rongai route is considered a moderate route. The elevation gain is gradual and not strenuous. However, because it is one of Kilimanjaro’s shorter routes, some climbers may succumb to altitude sickness due to its less than ideal route profile.

What is the Success Rate of Climbing Kilimanjaro on the Rongai Route?

For all operators combined, it is estimated that the 6 day Rongai route has a success rate of approximately 50% and the 7 day Rongai route has a success rate of about 70%. Our 6 day Rongai route has a success rate of approximately 70-75% and our 7 day Rongai route has a success rate of approximately 85-90%.


DAY 1 – Rongai Gate to Rongai Cave

Elevation: 6,398 ft to 9,300 ft

Hiking Time:  3-4 hours

Distance: 8 km | 5 miles

Habitat: Rain Forest

We drive from Moshi to Marangu Gate for permits before taking a short transfer to the 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.

DAY 2 – Rongai Cave to Second Cave to Kikelewa Cave

Elevation: 9,350 ft to 12,500 ft

Hiking Time: 4-6 hours

Distance: 5 km | 3 miles

Habitat: Health

We leave the glades of the rain forest and continue on an ascending path up to a steep, rocky ridge. On the Shira Plateau, we pass through heather and open moorlands, then cross a large river gorge to Shira 2 Camp.

DAY 3 – Kikelewa Cave to Mawenzi Tarn

Elevation: 11,811 ft to 14,160 ft

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

Distance: 5 km | 3 miles

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.

DAY 4 – Mawenzi Tarn to Mawenzi Ridge to Mawenzi Tarn

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


Distance: 2 km | 1 miles

Habitat: Alpine Desert


Distance: 2 km | 1 miles

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.

DAY 5 – Mawenzi Tarn to Kibo Hut

Elevation: 14,160 ft to 15,430 ft

Hiking Time: 5-6 hours

Distance: 8 km | 5 miles

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.

DAY 6 – Kibo Hut to Uhuru Peak to Horombo Hut

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


Distance: 6 km | 4 miles

Habitat: Arctic


Distance: 16 km | 10 miles

Habitat: Health

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.

DAY 7 – Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate

Elevation: 12,205 ft to 6,046 ft

Hiking Time: 5-7 hours

Distance: 20 km | 12 miles

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 Moshi.




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