Rongai Route 8 Days, 7 Nights
Tembea Africa Tours Co. Ltd leads treks up the unique Rongai Route known to be more scenic than the Marangu Route, easier than the Machame Route, and the success rate on the Rongai is very high. Unlike the Marangu Route where you sleep in huts, on the Rongai you sleep in tents (tents are included), and the porters will pitch your tent for you. Meals are served in a dinner tent or on a blanket outside. The Rongai starts on the north side of the mountain just south of the Kenyan border, and is one of the least traveled routes. The Rongai joins the Marangu for the summit climb, then you descend the Marangu Route on the mountain’s southeast side, so you see Kilimanjaro from many view points.
Arrive at the Kilimanjaro International Airport. You will be met at the airport and transferred to hotel for your overnight Dinner.
Your day starts early with breakfast and a briefing. Transfer by Land Rover through many villages and coffee plantations for 4-5 hours to the attractive wooden village of NaleMuru (1,950 m/6,398 ft). After signing in and preparing the porters, you begin the hike on a wide path winding through fields of maize and potatoes, then enter a pine forest. You then start to climb gently but consistently through attractive forest that shelters a variety of wildlife. The forest begins to thin and Simba Camp (2,600 m/8,530 ft) is near the “First Cave” at the edge of the moorland zone with extensive views over the Kenyan plains.
You make a steady ascent to the Second Cave where you have lunch. You leave the direct trail at the Second Cave and strike out across the moorland on a smaller path towardsMawenzi’s jagged peaks. After another 10 km, you reach the Kikelewa Camp in a sheltered valley with giant Senecios nearby. The Kikelewa Cave is also nearby.
You do a short, steep climb up grassy slopes rewarded by superb all-round views and a tangible sense of wilderness. Shortly after you leave the vegetation behind, you reach the Mawenzi Tarn, which is situated in a spectacular cirque directly beneath the towering spires of Mawenzi. After this short hike, you can spend the afternoon exploring this exciting area.
Your extra day on the mountain, and you will spend two nights at Mawenzi Tarn. You can hike up to Mawenzi for a splendid acclimatization hike.
You cross the lunar desert of the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo to reach the Kibo Huts at the bottom of Kibo’s crater wall. You should spend the remainder of the day resting and preparing for your summit climb.
Wake up at midnight for a light breakfast, then prepare for your summit ascent. The goal is to climb before dawn so that you can reach Uhuru Peak shortly after sunrise. Leave at 1 AM, switchback up steep scree or possibly snow, and reach Gilman’s Point on the crater rim at 5,861 m/18,640 ft between 5 and 7 AM. Here, views of the fabled crater and its icecaps greet you. Another 2 hours of hiking along the crater rim near the celebrated snows take you to Kilimanjaro’s true summit, Uhuru Peak, by 9 AM. This is Africa’s highest point, and you would have to travel more than 3,000 miles toward the Himalayas to find a higher peak! Be sure to have your picture taken at the summit to show your friends. After your summit stays, descend back to the Kibo Huts, have lunch, rest, collect your things, and recross the saddle to the Horombo Huts. Eat dinner and get some well-deserved sleep!
You do the beginning of this climb in the dark with headlamps or flashlights. It will be very cold until you start descending, so you will need all of your warm layers. This is, by far, the most difficult part of the trek. Slowly slowly, or, “pole pole,” and an optimistic attitude will get you there.
Wake up, as usual, pack, and descend through the moorland to the Mandara Huts. Have lunch there then continue your triumphant recessional down through lush forest to the park gate, which you should reach around 2 or 3 PM.
A vehicle will take you back to hotel, where it is definitely time for celebration!
Depart for the airport or other destinations in Tanzania or Kenya. A trip to the beaches at Zanzibar is a good way to recuperate.