Route Duration – 6 Days Hiking
The Rongai Route is easier and more scenic than the Marangu or Machame routes, and the success rate is very high. All climbers sleep in tents (tents are included) and meals are served in a dinner tent or on a blanket outside.
The route starts on the north side of the mountain just south of the Kenyan border, and is one of the least travelled routes. The descent is down the Marangu Route on the south side of the mountain, so climbers see the mountain from many view points.
Elevation (m):1950m to 2600m Elevation (ft): 6400ft to 8500ft
Hiking Time: About 4 hours
After completing the necessary registration formalities at Marangu National Park gate, transfer by Land Rover to Rongai (about 1.5 hours).
The climb begins from the attractive wooden village of Nale Moru (1,950 m.) on a small path that winds 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. The forest begins to thin out and the first camp is at the edge of the moorland zone (2,600 m.) with extensive views over the Kenyan plain
Elevation (m):2600m to 3600m Elevation (ft): 8500ft to 11,800ft
Hiking Time: About 7 hours
The morning walk is a steady ascent up to the ‘Second Cave’ (3,450 m.) with superb views of Kibo and the Eastern ice fields on the crater rim. After lunch, leave the main trail and strike out across the moorland on a smaller path towards the jagged peaks of Mawenzi. The campsite is in a sheltered valley with giant Senecios near Kikelewa Caves (3.600 m.)
Elevation (m):3600m to 4330m Elevation (ft): 11,800ft to 14,200ft
About 4 hours
A short but steep climb up grassy slopes is rewarded by superb all-round views and a tangible sense of wilderness. Leave the vegetation behind shortly before reaching the next camp at Mawenzi Tarn (4,330 m.), spectacularly situated in a cirque directly beneath the towering spires of Mawenzi. The afternoon will be free to rest or explore the surrounding area as an aid to acclimatization.
Elevation (m):4330m to 4750m Elevation (ft): 14,200ft to 15,600ft
About 5 hours
Cross the lunar desert of the ‘Saddle’ between Mawenzi and Kibo to reach School campsite (4,750 m.) at the bottom of the Kibo crater wall. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent before a very early night!
Elevation (m):4750m to 5895m (and down to 3720m) Elevation (ft): 15,600ft to 19,300ft (and down to 12,200ft)
About 11 hours
Begin the final, and by far the steepest and most demanding, part of the climb by torchlight around 1 a.m. Proceed very slowly in the darkness on a switchback trail through loose volcanic scree to reach the crater rim at Gillman’s Point (5,685 m.) Rest there for a short time to enjoy the spectacular sunrise over Mawenzi. Those who are still feeling strong can make the three hour round trip to Uhuru Peak (5,896 m.), passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. The descent to Kibo (4,700 m.) is surprisingly fast and, after some refreshment, continue the descent to reach the final campsite at Horombo (3,720 m.).
Elevation (m):3720m to 1700m Elevation (ft): 12,200ft to 5500ft
After breakfast, A steady descent takes us down through moorland to Mandara Hut (2,700m.), the first stopping place at the Marangu route. Continue descending through lovely lush forest on a good path to the National Park gate at Marangu (1,830 m.). At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be plenty to wear (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy).
A vehicle will meet you at Marangu village to drive you back to the Springlands Hotel in Moshi. Don’t forget to tip your guides and porters. It is time for celebration!