The Rongai route is the only route that ascends the northern slope of Kilimanjaro. It’s a quieter route, and offers some amazing views. We discuss the pros and cons of the Rongai to help you decide if it’s the right route for you.
The Rongai route is the only route that approaches the summit from the northern side of the mountain, near the Kenyan border. It’s one of the least crowded of the seven Kilimanjaro routes.
It’s recommended to do the seven-day itinerary (as opposed to the six-day itinerary) as the topography of this trail doesn’t afford many opportunities to ‘climb high, sleep low’. The seven-day itinerary includes an acclimatisation day at Mawenzi Tarn Camp, which gives your body time to adjust to the higher elevation. Acclimatisation is important in allowing you to reach the summit.
The Rongai route is the only route that approaches the summit of Kilimanjaro from north of the mountain. It’s a decent route choice for those looking to climb during the rainy season, as the north side of the mountain generally receives a little less precipitation.
We recommend choosing this route if you want to avoid the crowds. It’s also a good option if you have less or no trekking experience and want a more relaxed climb with fewer steep sections. (You might also like to read Trekking tips for beginners.)
There isn’t an opportunity to climb high and sleep low on the Rongai if you opt for the six-day itinerary. If, however, you hike the seven-day itinerary, there is an acclimatisation day at Mawenzi Tarn Camp. We highly recommend choosing the seven-day over the six-day itinerary.
The Rongai route can be climbed in 5 rather than 6 days, if desired. Mawenzi Tarn is not visited in this case, and on the second day climbers go to Second Cave for lunch, as normal, but then the path continues directly towards the peak of Kibo for a further 2 hours and camp is made at Third Cave, 3,700 metres. On the following day, climbers continue ascending up to the Saddle, and onwards to make camp next to Kibo Hut, at 4,700 metres. The itinerary is then the same as for the 5th and 6th days of the 6 day Rongai ascent. Although this 5 day climb is sometimes undertaken, we advise climbers to opt for the 6 day climb if possible, as Mawenzi Tarn is one of the most magnificent camps on Kilimanjaro, and it is a shame to miss it!