Rongai Route

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, elephant and antelope.

The seven days includes a day of acclimatisation 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 acclimatisation. 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 acclimatisation 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 Gilmans 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. The ratio of guide:climber is 1:2. You can read about Kilimanjaro preparation and Kilimanjaro safety on our More Info pages and there is also a comprehensive Kilimanjaro packing list.

Rongai Route Map

Rongai Route.JPG

Brief itinerary of the Rongai Route

Day 1: Drive to Rongai Gate – Hike to Simba Camp. 6 kms
Drive to Marangu gate for permits and continue for 2 hours to Nale Moru village to start trek on path through farmland and pine forest initially to reach the edge of the moorland where the camp is with beautiful views over the Kenyan plains.

Day 2: Simba Camp – Kikelewa Camp. 6kms
Steady ascent up to the Second Cave with superb views of Kibo summit and the Eastern ice fields on the crater rim. Continue across moorland towards Mawenzi Peak. The camp is in a sheltered valley with giant Senecios nearby.
Day 3: Kikelewa Camp – Mawenzi Tarn. 9kms
Initial short climb and superb views of the mountain and a few hours to the tarn which is in a cirque directly beneath Mawenzi. Short hike, and rest day in the afternoon. Camp here for two nights.

Day 4: Acclimatisation day with a hike up and around Mawenzi.

Day 5: Mawenzi Tarn – Kibo Hut. 9 kms.
Crossing the high desert terrain of the saddle between Kibo peak and Mawenzi peak, the final camp is at Kibo campsite beneath the massif itself. Rest in preparation for summit day.

Day 6: Kibo Camp – Summit Uhuru Peak – Horombo Hut. 6 kms up, 15 kms down.
Summit day ascent to the crater rim at Gilmans Point and then Uhuru peak itself, and a descent to Horombo Hut which is on the Marangu route.

Day 7: Horombo Hut - Mweka Gate. 20 kms.
A long day descending back to the forest and all the way down to the gate on the path. From Mweka, the drive back to Moshi is only half an hour.

Camps used on Rongai Route

Rongai Route altitude profile.JPG

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to climb the Rongai Route?

Because this route lies in the rain shadow of the mountain and is drier, it's possible to climb the Rongai during rainy season as well as all other times of the year. Rainy season is April - May and October - December.

Is Rongai a busy route?

No, this route is less busy and more remote, but arguably less scenic than routes from the south side of the mountain. The Northern Circuit route does meet up with this route at the caves but you will only see other people from Kibo onwards.

How long is the Rongai route?

The  total distance is 72 kilometres with the longest day being summit day at 21 kms. This route has an acclimatisation day at Mawenzi Tarn which helps with acclimatisation but there is less of the 'climb high, sleep low' option so we only do this route in seven days, which is the recommended number of days for a climb of this altitude.

What are the camps like on Rongai?

The camps on this route are less frequented and a bit more basic than the other routes but they all have toilet facilities and a Rangers hut. There are no huts, this is a camping route only.

What clothing and Equipment do I need for climbing Kilimanjaro by Rongai?

In general the temperatures will be hot and quite humid on the lower slopes, getting increasingly colder as you get higher. Prepare for a variety of conditions, from wearing T-shirts and shorts on the first day or so, to very warm parkas, hats and gloves for summit night. Do read our full packing list for Kilimanjaro and contact us for any questions about brands or particular models.

We provide tents and mattresses plus we have a whole range of rental items which you can see on the Extras tab on this page.

Do also have a look at our Blog sections on the right hand side for more details, such as:
How Hard is it to climb Kilimanjaro?
Best Time to Climb Kilimanjaro?
How Long does it take to climb Kilimanjaro?
Fact's about Kilimanjaro
What to wear on Kilimanjaro?
Toilets on Kilimanjaro
Training for Kilimanjaro
Do I use diamox on Kilimanjaro?

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Mount Kilimanjaro Rongai route itinerary

DayElevationTravel TimeInfo
1 1830m n/a This is our advertised date for the start of the trip and is the day which you should arrive into Tanzania. Most people fly into Kilimanjaro airport either directly or via Kenya. Others travel overland from Kenya. The advertised date is the date you should arrive and we can collect you from Kilimanjaro airport or assist you to travel from Kenya. Overnight in Keys Annexe Hotel in Moshi Town.
2 1830m n/a Briefing day in Moshi Town, meet the AA Tanzania staff and have time for hiring equipment or relaxing in the hotel.
3 2800m 3hr drive, 4hrs walking We depart early in the morning and drive around Kilimanjaro to the North side where the Rongai Gate is. It takes about 3hrs but offers some great views. After registering at the gate and sorting gear for the porters we then walk through the forest for 4hrs to reach Camp 1 at 2800m. This is a great day for seeing wildlife.
4 3600m 6hrs Today we move out on to the moorland of Kilimanjaro and have a longish day at 6hrs up to Camp 2 which is near Kikelewa Cave at 3600m.
5 4330m 5hrs Today we are on open ground which at times can be steep as we make our way up to camp at the Mawenzi Tarn (4330m).
6 4330 varies Today is a rest and acclimatisation day at the tarn. You can relax at camp or go on some walks in area. This part of the mountain is beautiful and the views are stunning.
7 4730m 4hrs 4hrs open ground walking today with amazing views via the Saddle to reach camp near Kibo Hut at 4730m
8 5985m then 3800m 12hrs Night-time ascent on rock and scree, occasional snow, to the crater rim and the summit. Cold temperatures with windchill. We summit via Gilmans Point (5680m), which is 5 hrs up scree and a further 2 hrs to summit (5985m) and descend to Horombo Hutb at 3800m (total 12 hrs).
9 1830m 4hrs We then descend to Marangu Gate, along an easy path back into and through the forest for 4 hours. We then transfer by road back to the hotel where a hot shower awaits!
10 n/a n/a Either start your safari or depart for home.


Full and new Moon dates

Month  2020 New Moon 2020 Full Moon 2019 New Moon 2019 Full Moon


10 6 21 Super FM
Feb 23 9 5 19 Super FM
March 24 9 6 21
April 23 8 5 19
May 22 7 5 19
June 21 5 3 17
July 20 5 12 17 Lunar Eclipse
Aug 19 3 1 & 30 15
Sept 17 2 28 14
Oct 16 2 & 31 28 14
Nov 15 30 26 12
Dec 14 30 26 12



Mount Kilimanjaro Rongai Route cost £2105.00


  • Accommodation in Moshi for 3 nights in the Keys Annexe Hotel (twin, B&B)
  • Jeep or coach transport to the mountain gate from and to Moshi
  • Park fees, camping fees and park rescue fees
  • Park certified guides (ratio of 1:2 or 1:3 depending of team size)
  • Porters and cooks, plus equipment and tents for them
  • All camping equipment including sleeping tents with mattresses
  • Expedition administrator, translator and Manager
  • Meals on the mountain


  • International airfare to Tanzania
  • Airport transfers
  • Tanzanian Visa$50 for most passports & $100 for USA citizens, purchased on arrival
  • Vaccinations and malaria tablets
  • Personal expenses including lunches and dinners in Moshi
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips ~ $150 for a 7 day climb, $180 for an 8 day climb, or $200 for a 9 day climb per visiting climber, paid in local currency for distribution at exit gate / hotel post climb

Notes on the pricing of this trip

  • We do not operate kitties so the trip cost includes all main costs except personal expenses.
  • We use a very good hotel in town with which we have built up a strong relationship for the past twenty years.
  • Your money is protected by our financial bonding and we are a secure and well established company.
  • We run scheduled dates and groups which normally number between two and ten. Private dates are at no extra cost but there is a supplement for single travellers.
  • We advise you to take out your insurance as soon as possible to cover potential events that might cause you to cancel your trip. You need to ensure that you have a policy which covers trekking to 5895m, helicopter rescue and cancellation, but it does not need to cover technical climbing.
  • The local Provider for this trip is Adventure Alternative Tanzania which is licensed under the Adventure Alternative trademark and provides  excellent rates of pay, high quality equipment and training for the staff.