About the Rongai Route

Remote and secluded, the Rongai Route is the only trail leading up to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro that makes its approach from the north. Because of this remote nature, it is less-utilized and more wild when compared to some of the other routes, at least until the final push up to the summit – at which point it shares the rail with the Marangu Route.

In addition to the peace and quiet that can be experienced on the Rongai Route, it also features a steady climb up the mountainside that makes acclimatization easier and results in a higher summit success rate. The only real downsides are the fact that the summit day is quite long (12-16h) and some say that it is a less scenic route overall. Even so, the Rongai Route is one of the better Mount Kilimanjaro adventure tours if you are looking to take a slower pace and avoid the crowds.

If you are just in the initial stages of planning your excursion to the top of Africa, be sure to check out our ultimate guide to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Rongai Route Map
Rongai Route Map

Rongai Route Itinerary

Day 1 Start of the trail to Simba Camp

The first day of your Kilimanjaro trek along the Rongai Route will see you traverse the northern slopes of the mountain. Here, you will steadily make your way uphill through farmland and forests, before arriving at Simba Camp for the night.

Elevation Change: 2139ft Ascent
Distance: 3.7mi
Time: 3-4h
Terrain: Rainforest
Overnight Location: Simba Camp

Kilimanjaro. Rongai Route
Kilimanjaro. Rongai Route

Day 2 Icefield Views from the Second Cave Camp

Today you will continue uphill through the picturesque heath terrain towards the Second Cave Camp, where you will be able to enjoy breathtaking views of Kibo and some nearby icefields.

Elevation Change: 2625ft Ascent
Distance: 3.7mi
Time: 3-4h
Terrain: Heath
Overnight Location: Second Cave Camp

Day 3 Trek to Kikelewa Camp

The third day of your adventure will see you traverse a small path towards Mawenzi. You will be inundated with gorgeous mountain views as you make your way to the Kikelewa Camp, where you will set up camp for the night.

Elevation Change: 591ft Ascent
Distance: 5.6mi
Time: 2-3h
Terrain: Alpine Desert
Overnight Location: Kikelewa Camp

Day 3. Trek to Kikelewa Camp
Day 3. Trek to Kikelewa Camp

Day 4 Explore the Mawenzi Tarn

More beautifully scenic views of Kibo will be had on this leg of your journey, as you make your way towards the Mawenzi Tarn. Once you have reached the base, you can relax and enjoy the views or take some time to explore the area.

Elevation Change: 2231ft Ascent
Distance: 3.7mi
Time: 3-4h
Terrain: Alpine Desert
Overnight Location: Mawenzi Hut Camp

Day 5 Traverse the Saddle Between Kibo and Mawenzi Peaks

Day five of your tour is a bit on the rugged side, as you will traverse the rocky saddle between the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi. You will begin to notice a higher volume of foot traffic as you approach your camp for the night, which is due to the convergence of several popular trails.

Elevation Change: 1289ft
Distance: 5.6mi
Time: 4-5h
Terrain: Alpine Desert
Overnight Location: Kibo Hut Camp

Day 5. Traverse the Saddle Between Kibo and Mawenzi Peaks
Day 5. Traverse the Saddle Between Kibo and Mawenzi Peaks

Day 6 Push to the Summit of Kilimanjaro

Today is the big day where you will summit Kilimanjaro, which also means a very early start! After waking up around midnight, you will trek uphill through rugged terrain to Gillman’s Point, before pushing on to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro for incredible views. Afterwards, you will descend to the Horombo Hut Camp for the night.

Elevation Change: 3921ft Ascent/ 7136ft Descent
Distance: 13.0mi
Time: 12-16h
Terrain: Arctic/Heath
Overnight Location: Horombo Huts Camp

Day 6. Push to the Summit of Kilimanjaro
Day 6. Push to the Summit of Kilimanjaro

Day 7 Descend Through the Rainforest to the Marangu Gate

The last day of your Kilimanjaro adventure will see your continued descent along the mountainside. After arriving at the Marangu Gate, you will receive your summit certificate and meet up with your driver who will drive you back to Moshi.

Elevation Change: 6562ft Descent
Distance: 12.4mi
Time: 4-5h
Terrain: Rainforest
Overnight Location: Hotel in Moshi

Kilimanjaro. Rongai Route
Kilimanjaro. Rongai Route

Plan Your Kilimanjaro Adventure

If you are sitting there after looking at the itinerary and thinking: “this looks like it will take a crazy amount of planning and effort”… then you are right! But don’t sweat it, we’ve put together a series of articles that outlines every aspect of arranging a Kilimanjaro summit trek. For the things that we don’t cover – like government advisories and vaccines – you can always check with official sources like the Tanzanian Embassy or the Center for Disease Control for all current regulations when traveling to Tanzania.

If you have done your research on how hard it actually is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and have settled on making your summit dreams come true, first of all congratulations! This will definitely be an amazing adventure that you will never forget. Second, there are plenty of logistical things to consider, such as the best time of year to make a summit climb, how best to prepare yourself, and what you will need to pack in order to make your experience a successful one.

It can be a bit overwhelming at times to wrap your head around all that you will need to do in preparation for your trip, but once you have all of your ducks in a row it will make for a smooth experience – well, as smooth as it can be when climbing to the top of the African continent! From that point, you can rest assured that you’ve done all you can and can simply focus on reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.