The Rongai route on Mount Kilimanjaro is a seven-day camping route; it has the attraction of being a lower traffic and easier route compared to the southern slopes for climbing Kilimanjaro. It attracts about 10% of visitors to the mountain. The route is really a complete traverse, the only one to experience the arid northern side and the lush southern side. It’s also known as the Loitokok Route.
Starting from the Kenyan side of the mountain in the north its advantages are a more gradual and easier route in terms of terrain, plus there are excellent clear views of the mountain all through the approach. There is also more opportunity to see wildlife such as buffalo, elephants, and antelope.
The seven days include a day of acclimatization at Mawenzi Tarn and this is an important addition because the flatter terrain means you can’t ‘climb high, sleep low’ which is a good approach to acclimatization. This extra day helps a lot and means the summit success rate on this route is quite high at over 80%. A six-day itinerary without the acclimatization day lowers the summit success rate to about 65% and it’s much more likely to get altitude sickness.
The route is quieter and flatter, and arguably has less scenic quality than other routes on the south side. However, walking across the open plain with the summit massif in view all the time gives a real sense of vastness to the mountain. It is drier because of the fact that the mountain itself stops the rain clouds coming up from the south, so it’s really a very different experience in terms of scenery and terrain. For many, the solitude and sense of space is a big draw, although you don’t get to experience all the different habitats which are evident on the south side routes like Machame and Lemosho.
It takes five days to ascend from the NNE through the forest and onto the heathland and to the last camp at Kibo where it joins the Marangu route. Summit day is on day six up to Gilman’s Point on the crater rim and then up to Uhuru Peak and all the way down to Horombo Hut, and the seventh day is a descent to Mweka Gate which is just half an hour drive from Moshi.
We use top-quality mountain tents, comfortable mattresses, and qualified guides who work with us full time, porters who carry the bags and equipment, and cooks who provide fresh food every day.