5 Days Rongai Route
We avoid the crowded Marangu route on Kilimanjaro, preferring to approach the mountain from the north by the lightly used Rongai route. The Rongai route starts just south of Kenya- Tanzania border and has been almost unused for many years because the area was considered sensitive. Now open for climbing once again, experienced guides consider this ascent route to be both easier and more beautiful than the main Marangu trail. The Rongai route begins in attractive farmland and delightful forest, with the possibility of wildlife viewing, and passes through several different climate zones, adding considerably to the interest of the trek.
We also add an extra day to the standard five day itinerary to ensure maximum acclimatization and give ourselves the best possible chance of enjoying the magnificent scenery. Recent National Park statistics indicate that the chance of reaching the summit increases by at least 30% if an extra day is spent acclimatizing. The deviation to Mawenzi Tarn is very beautiful and on a little – used trail through moorland. This route retains a sense of unspoiled wilderness and offers a different perspective on Kilimanjaro by approaching it from the North
After completing the necessary registration formalities at Marangu National Park Gate, we transfer by Land Rover/ Toyota Land Cruiser to Rongai. The climb begins from the attractive wooden village of Nale Meru (1950m.) on a small path that winds through attractive forest that shelters and variety of wildlife, including the beautiful Kilimanjaro 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 (2,600m.) with extensive views over the Kenyan plains. [3-4 hours walking]
The morning walk is a walk is a steady ascent up to the ‘Second Cave’ (3,450m.) With superb views of Kibo and the eastern ice fields on the crater rim. After lunch, we continue through the moorland zone and the huge bulk of Kibo suddenly seems to be very close, especially from our camp at ‘Third Cave’ (3,900m.) [5-6 hours walking.]
The steady ascent continues, soon reaching the lunar desert of the ‘saddle’ between Mawenzi and Kibo. We may be fortunate enough to see the herd of eland that inhabit this area. We should reach Kibo Hut (4,750m.) at the bottom of the Kibo Crater wall by midday. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent before a very early! [4-5 hours walking]
We will start the final, and by far the steepest and most demanding, part of the climb by torchlight around 12.a.m. We plod very slowly in the darkness on a switchback trail through loose volcanic scree to reach the crater rim at Gillman’s Point (5,685m.)We will 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 (5,895m.), passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. The descent to our final campsite at Horombo, 3,720m. [11-15 hours walking]
A steady descent takes us down through moorland to Mandara Hut (2,700m.), the first stopping place at the Marangu route. We then continue descending through lovely lush forest on a good path to the National Park gate at Marangu (1,850m.) [5-6 hours walking]