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Rongai Route – The Only Northern Approach Trail on Kilimanjaro

  • Updated: December 10, 2019
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This page provides a comprehensive and impartial guide to climbing Kilimanjaro via the Rongai Route.

Please note: We are not a tour operator, but we can put you in touch with our recommended partner, see details below.

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Rongai Route

Overview

The Rongai Route is the only trail which starts on the Northern, or Kenyan side of Mount Kilimanjaro, and it receives the least traffic of all the guided trails up the mountain (except for the Northern Circuit). As the Northern side of the mountain is less inhabited and touristy, trekkers will experience unspoilt wilderness and possibly see large wildlife such as antelope, elephant and buffalo.

The Rongai Route, while flatter than other Kilimanjaro routes, does not offer hikers the opportunity to climb high and sleep low, and therefore it can be difficult for trekkers to acclimatize properly. While the Rongai route can be climbed in six days, it is highly recommended that trekkers take seven or eight days to experience this beautiful trail, allowing their bodies extra time to acclimatize.

As the Northern side of Mount Kilimanjaro receives less rain, trekkers are more likely to have clear, unclouded views of Uhuru Peak.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Only Northern approach to Kilimanjaro
  • Relatively quiet trail with amazing panoramic views of Kilimanjaro
  • Good summit success rates on the 7-day variation

Cons

  • Long drive to the start point

Rongai Route Map

The map illustrates the Rongai Route, which begins on the Northern (Kenyan) side of Mount Kilimanjaro. The summit approach is via Gilman's Point on the eastern side of Uhuru Peak. Descent is via the Marangu route.

Rongai-Route-Map

Rongai Altitude Profile

The schematic diagram shows the altitude profile for the six-day Rongai Route. 7-day trek, climbers spend an additional acclimatization day at Mwenzi Tarn before continuing on.

Rongai-altitude

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Rongai - Typical Itinerary

While a trekker's best chance of success lies with the seven route, the Rongai Route is also operated as a six-day trek. Below is a detailed itinerary for the six-day route. For details on the longer variations, see the Route Variations section below.

Click each day to read more.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Rongai Route Variations

The Rongai route can be climbed as a six, seven or eight-day trek. For the seven-day trek, climbers spend an additional acclimatization day at Mwenzi Tarn before continuing on. Eight-day trekkers will also spend a night at Rongai Second Cave on day two before continuing on to Kikelewa Camp.

Video Overview

Watch this video summary of the seven-day Rongai Route assembled in 2011 by Brian Reilly. It gives a great flavour of the varied landscape and terrain of Mount Kilimanjaro. It also includes some great music and snapshots of the local culture.

Get a Kilimanjaro Trek Quote

We do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote from our recommended partner click Get a Quote.

Recommended Guidebook

mount-kilimanjaro-guide

Mount Kilimanjaro: Trekkers Guide to the Summit

Mount Kilimanjaro: Trekkers Guide to the Summit is a practical and super insightful guidebook that has been used by 1000s of climbers as an authoritative resource to prepare for Mount Kilimanjaro.

The book is available on Amazon Kindle or an eBook version can be downloaded here.


Frequently Asked Questions about Rongai Trek

1.

How much does the Rongai Route cost?

The costs of trekking on the Rongai Route will vary based on a few factors, such as what season you choose to hike, whether you choose the six, seven or eight-day option, or whether you choose to use a Western guiding company or communicate directly with a local guiding company. Here are the major costs to consider when planning to undertake the Rongai Route:

Visa, Vaccinations, Insurance etc: ~$300-$500

Equipment (buying and hiring): ~$200-$300

Flights to Kilimanjaro International Airport/Dar es Salaam/Nairobi: ~$800

Tour Agency: About $1,800 for a cheap local agency to ~$3,500 for an expensive.

Tips: ~$200-$300

Misc (additional food, unplanned travel / hotels etc): $200

Total Costs: $3,200 – $5,500

2.

When is the best time to trek the Rongai Route?

June-September is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro, as the weather is best. That said, since it is close to the equator it is possible to climb the mountain at any time of the year. April and May are the rainy season so most hikers avoid these months. November is a short rainy month, however the northern side of Kilimanjaro is in a rain shadow so if you are confined to this month then the Rongai is a good option. 

3.

How difficult is the Rongai Route?

The Rongai Route is considered to be one of the easier routes up Kilimanjaro, offering a gradual and steady climb. However, the route does not offer a "climb high, sleep low" acclimatization day, therefore it could be perceived as more difficult than the Machame or Lemosho routes which offer such an acclimatization opportunity. It's a good idea to work on your aerobic fitness before taking on the trek.

4.

Are permits required for the Rongai Route?

A permit is required to climb Kilimanjaro, regardless of route. Furthermore, all trekkers must be accompanied by a guide and porters. If you are joining an organised tour, these will be arranged for you.

5.

Is altitude sickness a risk?

The Ronagi Route doesn't have the best acclimatisation profile, however the 7-day option builds in an additional acclimatisation day that is very helpful. In general, altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro is a serious concern and trekkers should be informed of the risks, symptoms and warning signs before they go. We recommend you read our detailed article on Altitude Sickness and Acclimatisation. If you are particularly concerned about altitude sickness, the eight-day Lemosho Route is probably your best chance to reach the summit as it allows ample time for acclimatization.

6.

What gear do I need for Rongai Trek?

Trekking Mount Kilimanjaro requires a number of essential pieces of trekking clothing and equipment. You will be exposed to a range of altitudes where temperatures fluctuate dramatically between night and day.


To help you plan and prepare for your trek we have written a detailed gear list.

7.

What insurance do I need for Rongai Trek?

Trekking to the summit of Kilimanjaro carries with it certain inherent risks. Chief among these is the risk of altitude sickness. It's a good idea to look into travel insurance before your journey. Make sure your insurance covers trekking up to 6,000 meters, which does not come standard in most travel insurance packages.


Check out World Nomads for a quick calculation of the cost of travel insurance for your trip to Kilimanjaro.

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