The only route to approach Mount Kilimanjaro from the north, the Rongai Route starts just south of the Kenya border in Kilimanjaro National Park, where hikers can enjoy spectacular views of the mountain from day one. Widely believed to be the easiest route on Kilimanjaro (if there is such a thing!), the Rongai Route is relatively flat for the first few days, and so it is a popular choice for those who are perhaps not as well trained as they would like to be… but that doesn’t mean it is easy, and it is strongly recommended that you train for your trip before heading to Tanzania!
The beauty of climbing Kilimanjaro along he Rongai Route, is that you may see some of Tanzania’s large wildlife such as elephants, buffalo and antelope as you approach the mountain in the early stages of your expedition. This simply doesn’t happen on the other routes, and so this could be a deciding factor when choosing a route on Africa’s highest mountain.
You can climb the Rongai Route over 6, 7 or even 8 days, although most operators tend to promote the 6-day option. As with all Kilimanjaro Climbs, if you can budget for an extra day, your chances of success will increase dramatically, so take this into consideration when booking your climb.
Climbing the Rongai Route: The Pros
While it is more popular now than it was some 10-years ago, the Rongai Route is still considerably quieter than Kilimanjaro’s most popular routes, the Marangu Route and the Machame Route, and so it’s a good choice for those who are looking for a more personalised experience.
The northern slopes of Kilimanjaro tend to be much drier than the southern slopes, and so you are unlikely to experience rain during your expedition along the Rongai Route, particularly if you are climbing during the dry season.
The first few days are relatively flat… but don’t let that lead you into a false sense of security! You’ve got to climb up to 5,895m just the same as everyone else!
The gradual acsent is ideal for those who are afraid of steep climbs, the first 2 days are quite literally a walk in the park!
Depending on the company you climb with, you could enjoy fully catered camping throughout your Rongai Route expedition, or you may spend some nights in huts as this route descends via the Marangu Route.
Climbing the Rongai Route: The Cons
It’s a long (sometimes bumpy) drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport, Arusha or Moshi to the starting point of the Rongai Route, and so you should be prepared for a long journey the first day.
Due to the long transfer to the starting point, the Rongai Route works out slightly more expensive than other 6-day Kilimanjaro Expeditions.
As it is drier on the northern side of the mountain, the scenery is not quite as beautiful as it is on the southern side of Kilimanjaro, but if you are lucky enough to see some elephants along the way, I’m sure that will not be too much of a disappointment!
As the Rongai Route is generally climbed over 6-days, it doesn’t allow much time for acclimatisation and the success rate is therefore lower than longer routes such as the Lemosho Route. Just adding an extra day can make a huge difference to your success, and so it is definitely worth considering.