Tour Overview: Rongai route is one of remote and less frequently used route is the second easiest route to Kilimanjaro. The approach to the mountain is from the less-forested north side and the descent is by the Marangu Route. There are several variations: The one described below is a longer route taking in Mawenzi Tarn. The second day on this variant is quite long and could be broken up into two days walk allowing more time for acclimatization. The ascent to Uhuru Peak is almost the same as for the Marangu Route from the Kibo Hut.
Day 1: Drive from Moshi to Rongai. Walk to Moorland Camp (2600m)
After breakfast we will drive to Rongai. We first head out on the main road to Marangu Gate for registration formalities and then go around the mountain to Rongai, which is a 2 to 3 hour drive on rough track through the villages. The climb begins from the attractive wooden village of Nale Moru (1950m) on a small path that wind through fields of maize and potatoes before entering pine forest. The track then starts to climb consistently, but gently through attractive forest that shelters a variety of wildlife, including the beautiful black and white Colobus monkey. These monkeys are black with a long 'cape' of white hair and a flowing white tail. The forest begins to thin out and the first camp is at the edge of the moorland zone (2600m) with extensive views over the Tanzania and Kenyan plains.
This side of the mountain does not receive anywhere near as much rain as the western flank and the underfoot conditions do not deteriorate into the thick boggy mud that is not uncommon on the Machame route. We will ascend 650 metres today. (3 to 4 hours walking). Overnight camp, B,L,D.
Day 2: Moorland Camp to Kikelewa Caves Camp (3600m)
The morning walk is a steady ascent up from Moorland Camp to the 'Second Cave' (3450m). Early morning is normally clear at camp and as we make our way up across the moorland we should get increasingly good views of Kibo, the eastern ice fields, and the jagged peak of Mawenzi. After lunch, we leave the main trail and strike out across the moorland on a smaller path towards the jagged peaks of Mawenzi. This is the start of our extra acclimatization. Our campsite is in a sheltered valley with giant senecios near Kikelewa Caves (3600m). We will ascend 1000 metres today. (6 to 7 hours walking). Overnight camp, B,L,D.
Day 3: Kikelewa Caves Camp to Mawenzi Tarn Camp
A short but steep climb from Kikelewa Caves Camp up grassy slopes is rewarded by superb all round views and a feeling of real remoteness. We leave the vegetation behind shortly before reaching the next camp at Mawenzi Tarn (4330m). The camp is spectacularly situated in a cirque directly beneath the towering spires of Mawenzi. This is good terrain for the famous giant senecios to grow into impressive specimens and the afternoon will be free to rest or explore the surrounding area, this is another important an aid to acclimatization. We will ascend 730 metres today. (3 to 4 hours walking). Overnight camp, B,L,D.
Day 4: Mawenzi Tarn Acclimatisation Day
Today is a day for relaxing around camp and exploring the area, which will provide additional acclimatisation for the ascent of Kilimanjaro. We may walk above the tarn and onto "The Saddle", the flat, alpine desert between Mawenzi and Kibo (Kilimanjaro) for stunning views of our route all the way to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Overnight camp, B,L,D.
Day 5: Mawenzi Tarn to Kibo Camp
Today the trek leads directly across "The Saddle" between the two volcanoes of Mawenzi and the towering Kibo. As you cross the alpine desert of the Saddle, the open landscape affords all round views; all the way through the day there is Kibo looming up ahead. Eventually you can make out the winding summit path high above on the flanks of the mountain. Keep an eye out for the elusive eland that inhabits this high altitude zone, this is largest antelope in the world and is horse like in proportions. Throughout the day you should try to eat as much as possible in preparation for the summit attempt, which starts very early tomorrow morning. Keep snacking through the afternoon if you can. We should get into Kibo Camp (4700m) by early afternoon. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent.
Once rested you should pack your day sacks for the morning and change your clothes in advance so that you are wearing the correct layers for the summit day. We go to bed very early (18:00 hrs) and hopefully get to sleep soon after that. You will be woken at around 23:30 for tea and biscuits. We will ascend 370 metres today. (4 to 5 hours walking). Overnight camp, B,L,D.
Day 6: Summit Ascent
We will leave Kibo Camp (4700m) and start the final and by far the steepest and most demanding part of the climb by torchlight around midnight. There are five to six hours of trudging up generally well-graded zigzags in the dark. We plod very slowly in the darkness. On some stretches the ground is stable, whilst on others the loose volcanic scree scrunches and slides underfoot.
Heading up past Williams Point (5000m) we keep going to Hans Meyer Cave (5182m). All the way our climbing guide is keeping you going at a very slow plod, taking regular rest stops to drink and catch your breath. The temperature though is very cold and it is better to keep going very slowly. We walk on the switchback trail through loose volcanic scree to reach our first summit, the crater rim at Gilman's Point (5685m) in time for sunrise. When you reach this point the park authorities will grant you a certificate. We will have ascended 985 metres (5 to 6 hours walking) so far. We will rest here for a short time to enjoy the spectacular sunrise over Mawenzi before those who wish, continue to Uhuru Peak (5895m) the second summit and Kilimanjaro's true peak.
The optional three hour round trip to Uhuru Peak (5895m), passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. Our journey only climbs 210 metres but this is deceptive. Eventually we will reach the summit and the wooden notice board confirming that you are actually standing on the roof of Africa. By now the warming rays of the sun will be thawing out our cold bodies. We will have time to absorb the fantastic scene and take those all-important summit photographs. Climbing to Uhuru Peak we will ascend a total of 1196 metres so far. (8 to 9 hours walking).
Summit Descent to Horombo Camp (3720m)
Coming down is much easier than going up and "skiing" down the scree is easy, quick and lots of fun. The descent to Kibo huts (4700m) is surprisingly fast. Here we will rest and have some refreshments before continuing to reach our final campsite at Horombo (3720 m). We will descend 3016 metres. (4 to 6 hours walking). Overnight camp, B,L,D.
Day 7: Horombo Camp (3720m) to Marangu Gate (1830m). Drive to Moshi
Leaving Horombo Camp our steady descent takes us down through moorland to Mandara Hut (2700m), the first stopping place on the Marangu route. We then continue descending through lovely lush forest on a good path to the National Park gate at Marangu (1830m).
Your vehicle will be waiting for you at the bottom of the hill. Here we will say goodbye to our porters and distribute well-earned tips. We will descend 1890 metres. (5 to 6 hours walking). You now drive back to Moshi for a long overdue hot shower, dinner and celebrations!! Overnight in Keys Annex Hotel, B,L.
Day 8: Departure
After breakfast a shopping day around the Moshi town and a rest to the hotel. Depending to the itinerary you will be going to the Tanzania renowned National Parks or connect the flight back home.
2 transfers from Moshi to Marangu gate – return.
3 meals a day while trekking – vegetarian/non vegetarian.
6 days Kilimanjaro trek – Marangu route.
5 nights accommodation in huts while trekking Marangu Route.
2 nights hotel accommodation bed and breakfast in Moshi before and after climb.
All park entrance fees and government Levies.
English speaking mountain guide and assistant.
Porters – Minimum 2 per client.
First Aid Kit including Oxygen Kit.
Leather or thermal boots
Gore-Tex, Microtex or K-Tech Trilaminate jacket
Gore-Tex, Microtex or K-Tech pants
Gore-Tex mittens or gloves
Fleece gloves (use as inner for Gore-Tex mittens)
Thermal glove liners (use as inner for Gore-Tex gloves)
Thermal long johns
Sunglasses with UV protection
Rain suit or poncho (mainly used in the rain forest)
Hiking boots or cross trainers
Sun hat (peak caps do not offer enough protection)
Drink at least three to four litres of water a day.
Use water filters and purifying pills to minimize stomach bugs.
Take enough snacks like energy bars, drink mixes, etc.
Do not move too fast, walk at a slow steady pace.
Move as lightly as possible, do not carry unnecessary weight.
All clothing in Duffel bags or backpacks must be protected with sack-liners to avoid getting wet, especially through the rainforest.
High factor lip balm and sun block is essential.
Nausea and headache pills should be kept handy on summit night.
Symptoms of altitude sickness can be reduced by using medication (consult your doctor).
New boots should be walked-in; this avoids blisters.
Use a sleeping mat when camping.
Use a thermal flask on summit night; other water bottles will freeze.
Allow camera or video camera to acclimatize; do not wrap or place them in plastic bags.
Thermal glove liners allow easier camera handling on the summit.
Use only new camera and headlamp batteries on summit night.
Guides and porters will expect tips; confirm amounts with your tour operator.