The Rongai route begins just south of the Kenya-Tanzania border making it the only established route that approaches the summit of Kilimanjaro from the north-east. Rongai was largely unused for many years as the area was considered sensitive, but in recent years it has seen a greater number of climbers. Experienced guides consider this ascent route to be both easier and more beautiful than the very busy Marangu trail, though perhaps less scenic than Lemosho and Shira routes.

What is the scenery like on Rongai route?

The Rongai route is generally considered one of the most scenically interesting on Kilimanjaro, approaching via the less-visited north-eastern face of the mountain. The trail begins in attractive farmland and forest, where there is still scope for wildlife viewing (colobus monkeys are regularly sighted), and passes through several different climate zones, adding considerably to the interest of the trek. Above the farmland and forest belt comes the heath and then the high altitude desert, leading up to the “Arctic” summit. Like Marangu Route, Rongai visits the famous Saddle, which is a landmark sight on Kilimanjaro – a geographical saddle joining Kilimanjaro’s youngest volcanic peak, Mawenzi, to its highest peak, Kibo.

The scenery is slightly less varied than the western routes (Lemosho, Shira), but it is equally unspoiled.

How long is Rongai route?

The standard Rongai itinerary is six days, but in our opinion this is too short for effective altitude acclimatisation. We recommend that before attempting Rongai6 you complete either a pre-climb altitude acclimatising safari to the Ngorongoro Highlands or a Mount Meru trek. Or simply add an extra day to Rongai6 to ensure maximum acclimatisation and to give you the best chance of viewing the unique scenery.

The optimum seven days Rongai trek takes the climber on day four from Mawenzi Tarn for an acclimatising walk on the Saddle to Kibo. The ascent from Kibo is up to Gilman’s Point on the Crater rim – and then a longish walk around to Uhuru Point, Kilimanjaro’s true summit.

How tough is Rongai route?
This depends on the length of the climb. A 6-day climb, whichever route you choose, increases the risk of altitude sickness, which is the main reason people fail to summit Kilimanjaro.

As for the trail itself, Rongai is actually a comparatively easy walking trail. It offers a gradual ascent, and avoids some of the steeper sections on the mountain such as the Barranco Wall.

Rongai is often marketed as a rapid ascent route but due to the beauty of the natural scenery and the comparatively easy trail, we think it works better as a relaxed route for those climbers wanting to enjoy their climb and not just race to the top.

When is the best time to climb?
See our Kilimanjaro seasons guide for advice on the best times of year to climb.

Note that Rongai is generally preferable to all other routes if you are climbing out of season, as the north face of Kilimanjaro receives less rainfall than the south.

What is the accommodation like?
Predominantly tented. Most of the camps on Rongai route do not have huts. The camps are much quieter compared to the busy southern routes of Machame and Marangu, but we should note that Rongai is becoming a more popular choice for trekkers these days and the difference is less pronounced than it used to be.

Who should choose Rongai route?
Rongai is ideal for those who want a quieter climb away from the busy southern routes.

This route retains a sense of unspoilt wilderness and, by approaching from the north-east, offers a different perspective on Kilimanjaro. Though it has become busier in recent years, Rongai still attracts a fraction of the climbers that ascend via the popular Marangu and Machame routes.

Rongai’s remote start point means that it is marginally more expensive to climb than the souther routes.

Note that Rongai is an ascent-only route; you will descend via Marangu Route, passing Horombo and Mandara to finally reach Marangu Gate.

Do you offer open groups on Rongai route?
Yes. See our Kilimanjaro Rongai Fixed Departures.

Outline itinerary

Day 1 The seven-day Rongai climb starts with a transfer from Marangu or Arusha to Nale Moru village (1960m). From Nale Moru, climb 3-4 hours through farmland and rainforest to the first camp at the edge of the moorland (2,600m) – 3-4hrs walking NB. some groups will ascend all the way to Second Cave (3,450m).
Day 2 Trek through moorland towards the jagged peaks of Mawenzi. Camp in a sheltered valley near Kikelewa Caves (3,600m.) – 6-7 hrs walking.
Day 3 A relatively short but tough climb to the top of Mawenzi Tarn (4,330m.), with stunning views of the Mawenzi spires – 3-4 hrs walking. Option for an afternoon acclimatiser.
Day 4 Acclimatisation day – trek to the Saddle approaching Camel’s Back (4,700m), and then back to Mawenzi Tarn.
Day 5 Cross the ‘lunar desert’ of the Saddle and continue to Kibo campsite (4,700 m.), at the base of the crater wall – 5-6 hrs walking.
Day 6 Summit night – An early start (typically around 1am), as we climb to Kilimanjaro’s summit, Uhuru Peak (5,896m), via Gilman’s Point (5,685m). From summit, descend to Horombo (3,720m) on Marangu Route – 12-15hrs walking.
Day 7 Walk off the mountain via Mandara Hut (2,600m) and on to the Marangu gate (1,830m) – 5-6 hrs walking. Followed by driven transfer to your hotel.