MOUNT KILIMANJARO – RONGAI ROUTE
This route is considered by many as the easiest route to reach the Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. The route ascends from the north-eastern side of the mountain, along the border between Tanzania and Kenya and offers a different perspective due to its unspoilt wilderness and natural beauty. Jumbo Tours and Safaris leads treks up the unique Rongai Route known to be more scenic than the Marangu Route, easier than the Machame Route, and the success rate on the Rongai is very high. Unlike the Marangu Route where you sleep in huts, on the Rongai you sleep in tents (tents are included), and the porters will pitch your tent for you. Meals are served in a dinner tent or on a blanket outside. The Rongai starts on the north side of the mountain just south of the Kenyan border, and is one of the least traveled routes. The Rongai joins the Marangu for the summit climb, then you descend the Marangu Route on the mountain’s southeast side, so you see Kilimanjaro from many view points. There are two versions of this trek – a direct 6-day itinerary, and a 7-day itinerary that takes a longer route. The more expedient 6-day itinerary is described below and the longer variation is described in the extra days section.
DURATION: 6 DAYS
There is only one route over on the north eastern side of the mountain, Rongai, which is usually a five night climb. This lesser known track may not be quite as spectacular as the western routes, but it does usually have far lower traffic than the other five night routes. This route retains a sense of unspoilt wilderness and offers a different perspective on Kilimanjaro by approaching it from the north. It is generally considered to be the easiest of the quality routes on the mountain. Rongai is the best route for people who are looking for a decent quality experience and are perhaps not absolutely confident about your fitness.
Accommodation is only in campsites in K-way base camp 3 person tent. Ascent is via Rongai route and descent is via Marangu route. This route can be trekked within minimum of 6 days, however an additional day for acclimatization is highly recommended. Success rate is low for short itinerary but high on longer itinerary. Traffic is very low.
ITINERARY 6 DAYS 5 NIGHTS
Day 1-Rongai Gate (1950m)-Simba Cave Camp (2625m)
Hiking time: 3-4 hours 8km
Habitat: Montane forest
Register at the Marangu park gate with a transfer (approximately 2 ½ hours) to the Rongai trailhead. Meet your guide and porters before you begin your hike from the Nale Moru village. The small winding path crosses maize fields before entering pine forest, and then climbs gently through a forest. The trail is not at all steep, but is rather a gentle hike through beautiful country. The first night’s camp is at First Cave, at about 2,625 meters. There is a toilet and a wooden table with benches, but no hut. Water can be found just down the trail below First Cave (Simba cave camp).
Day 2-Simba Cave Camp (2625m)-Kikelelwa Cave (3600m)
Hiking time: 5-6 hours 10km
The trail continues up towards Kibo, passing Second Cave (3450m) en-route, and reaching Kikelelwa Cave at about 3600 meters. The views start to open up and you begin to feel you’re on a really big mountain! Water is in the obvious stream below the cave, although you might have to wander downhill a way to find some. Overnight at Kikelelwa Cave camp.
Day 3-Kikelelwa Cave (3600)-Mawenzi Tarn camp (4330m)
Hiking time: 3-4 hours 5km
A short but steep climb up grassy slopes offers superb views of this wilderness area. The vegetation zone ends shortly before you reach your next camp at Mawenzi Tarn spectacularly situated beneath the towering spires of Mawenzi. Spend the afternoon acclimatizing and exploring the area.
Day 4-Mawenzi Tarn camp (4330m)-School Hut (4715m)
Hiking time: 4 – 5 hours
Habitat: Alpine desert.
Continue ascending on the east side of Kibo crossing the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo taking 4 to 5 hours to reach School Hut. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent, which begins at midnight. Overnight at School Hut Camp.
Day 5-Summit Attempt, School hut (4715m)-Uhuru Peak (5895m)
Horombo Camp (3720m)
Hiking time: 12-16 hours 21km
Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit.
You will rise around 23h30, and after some tea and biscuits you shuffle off into the night. This is where the going really gets tough. The first section of the trail consists of a rocky path to the Hans Meyer Cave (5150m), also a good resting spot. The path then zigzags up to Gillman’s point (5 681m), which is located on the crater rim. This section is very steep with a lot of stone scree, requiring a great physical and mental effort. Probably the most demanding section of the entire route. Do the Kilimanjaro shuffle and move slowly. From Gillman’s Point you will normally encounter snow all the way up to Uhuru peak (5895m), the highest point in Africa. Total exhilaration and satisfaction – you made it.
Weather conditions on the summit will determine how long you can spend, taking photographs, before the 3-hour descent back to Kibo hut. After a short rest you gather all your gear for the ascent and head down to Horombo hut (3 hours) where you will overnight. The return to Horombo hut will seem surprisingly fast compared to the ascent. The total time spent walking on this day is around 14 hours, so be prepared for a very tough day. Later in the evening you enjoy your last dinner (with soft drinks and beer for sale at the camp office) on the mountain and well-earned sleep, filled with memories and stirring emotions.
Day 6-Horombo Camp (3720m)-Marangu Gate (1980m)
Hiking time: 5-6 hours 12km
Heather & moorland, Montane forest
After breakfast you continue your descent (6 hours), passing the Mandara hut, down to the Marangu gate. At Marangu gate you sign your name and details in a register. This is also where successful climbers receive their summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Gillman’s Point (5685m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895m) receive gold certificates. You now drive back to Moshi for a long overdue hot shower, dinner and celebrations!!
Recommended additional day for acclimatization at Mawenzi Tarn Camp 4310m is on day 5 of the 6 days climb.