The sole trail that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, near the Kenyan border, is the Rongai Route. Rongai’s ascension path is extremely similar to Marangu’s. It is one of the less difficult routes on Kilimanjaro. The ascent to the peak is slow and steady. Unlike Marangu, however, this road is less used and traverses through vast wilderness regions. It’s possibly the only path where you may view animals in the early days.
It takes at least six days to finish the journey, but seven days is advised. The descent is down Mweka, which is on the mountain’s south-east flank. Because the starting site is so far away from Moshi, climbing this route is more expensive due to the additional transportation costs involved in transporting climbers to the gate.
Rongai is scenically appealing since it passes through a pristine rain forest and a secluded wilderness region. However, it lacks the variety of scenery found in Machame, Lemosho, and Shira.
Rongai is great for individuals who are unsure of their abilities to trek over more difficult terrain, those who wish to avoid traffic, and those who want to enjoy a more peaceful hike. It’s also better to climb on the north side of the mountain during the rainy season because the north side gets less rain.
Minimum Days: 6
Recommended Days: 7 or more
Difficulty (1-10): Mount Kilimanjaro Routes ranks the Rongai route at a 6. Suitable for trekkers who are less experienced. Trekking conditions are better than other routes during the rainy season due to less rain on the North side of Kilimanjaro.
Scenery: Scenery is very good on the Rongai route and is varied since it uses different ascend and descent trails.
Success Rate: The success rate of Rongai is a little higher than that of Southern routes, but not quite as high as the Western routes due to their longer treks allowing better acclimatization.
Traffic: Traffic is low on the Rongai route, due to the remoteness of its starting point.
Comfort: You will sleep in tents on the Rongai route. Your comfort is really determined by your level of tolerance for camping.
The only northern approach route to Kilimanjaro, the Rongai route offers the closest to a wilderness experience. The trek in is through a remote and barren landscape where the rainforest has sadly been lost to agriculture. For those looking to get away from the crowds on Kilimanjaro’s popular routes though this offers a much quieter trail.
Like the Marangu route, the Rongai route suffers from a low summit success rate as the topography does not allow the climber to “walk high, sleep low”. There is a variation of the Rongai route that offers better acclimatisation: the “Rongai Route Variation”. This starts with the traditional route but then traverses to the east to meet up with the Machame route at Barafu. We do not offer this route, although it is promoted heavily by some operators, as we feel it is too arduous and dangerous for our porter team with severe exposed ridge crossings.
The biggest attraction of the Rongai route is that it is quiet and because it is quiet you have a much better chance of seeing wildlife than on the Machame route. If though you really want to see wildlife we would recommend the Lemosho route.
Open group climbs are available on this route.