Mount Kilimanjaro Climb – Rongai Route

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Trip Summary

Experience Signature Camping on our wild northern Rongai Route, a 7-day climb of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Standing at Uhuru peak far above the clouds, one understands exactly what continues to draw climbers and adventurers from around the world to Kilimanjaro’s snow-capped crests. It is the highest peak in Africa and one of the seven summits of the world. But it’s truly the personal reward of getting to the summit, and the feeling of standing in solidarity with fellow adventurers while there, that keeps this climb at the top of so many bucket lists.

Our journey follows the less-traveled Rongai Route, an approach that begins from the northern side of Kilimanjaro. This trail is a wilder and quieter way to trek across the area’s distinctive ecological zones. The route passes through forest, moorlands, alpine desert and beautiful arctic zones. Along the way, our team of top African guides provide unmatched knowledge and support. Enjoy evenings spent under the night sky in large, comfortable tents, weary but more alive than ever. It is a deeply rejuvenating experience that is second to none.

Our trip begins at the Kilimanjaro Airport, Tanzania. We are met by our REI Adventures representative and assisted through customs and immigration. After our gear is loaded in the vehicles, we set off for our hotel in the bustling mountain town of Moshi. All meals on your own.

Transfer: 1 hour.

We’ll start our climbing orientation after breakfast this morning, clearing the rest of the day for exploration and adventure. A short drive takes us to a nearby Wachagga village where we learn the process of coffee cultivation. Kilimanjaro’s rich soil and temperate climate makes it prodigious for agriculture and results in especially tasty coffee. After lunch in the village we’ll return to the hotel and pack our bags for the mountain. We are free the rest of the afternoon to relax poolside or explore around town on our own. All meals included.

This morning we drive to the Marangu gate for registration before continuing north to the start of the Rongai route (6,400’). Passing through a patchwork of maize and potato farms, the trail soon dives into a mixed forest. We may even see the long-haired, black-and-white colobus monkeys bounding in the treetops. At Simba Camp (8,645’), we have our first night of REI Signature Camping on Kilimanjaro. Each spacious standing-height tent comes complete with cots, sleeping pads, pillows, floor mat and night stand. Outside is a private veranda with chairs for taking off your boots after a day of hiking. A hot dinner is served in our expansive high-alpine base camp tent. After we dine, our guides perform their nightly safety check and give us the details of the following day’s hike.

Driving and park formalities: 4 hours; Hiking: 4 miles, 3.5 hours; elevation gain: 2,245′.

Today is one of the longer trekking days. Our aim is to gain altitude and reach Kikelewa Camp (11,810’) on route to Mawenzi Tarn. The trail winds through moorlands of golden heather and has excellent views of the Kilimanjaro’s eastern icefield. We break for lunch at second cave camp before one final push, another two miles on to Kikelewa Camp. All meals included.

Hiking: 6 miles, 7 to 8 hours; elevation gain: 3,165′.

Prepare for a steady but steep ascent today to the base of Mawenzi. We take our time hiking, making sure to pace ourselves on this shorter section. We watch as the vegetation dramatically shifts from tussocks of wild grasses and giant groundsels to the sparsely vegetated alpine desert zone. Our camp (14,155’) for the next two days rests aside a high alpine lake, in a beautiful cirque below the towering spires of Mawenzi peak. Enjoy a hot lunch and take the rest of the afternoon to relax and recuperate. All meals included.

Hiking: 4 miles, 3 to 4 hours; elevation gain: 2,345′.

Acclimatization is key to a successful summit of Kilimanjaro. Today, we enjoy an extra day hiking around the scenic Mawenzi Tarn area. Mawenzi is the third highest mountain in Africa and the second cinder cone, after Shira, in Kilimanjaro’s geologic evolution. A short day hike today to the Mawenzi Ridge offers excellent vistas of Kilimanjaro’s highest peak. All meals included.

Hiking: 2 miles; 2 to 3 hours; elevation gain: 240’.

Fully rested, today we set off across the lunar-like landscape known as “the saddle” which spans the distance between the Mawenzi and Kibo peaks. Arriving at Kibo Camp (15,520’) we enjoy dinner, relax and prepare for the final ascent which begins shortly after midnight.

Hiking: 5.5 miles; 4 to 5 hours; elevation gain: 1,375’.

Starting near midnight, we follow a switchback path up a volcanic scree slope. Our guides set a comfortable pace and we stop often to catch our breath in the starlit air. This is the steepest and most demanding section of the climb, taking about five hours to reach Gillman’s Point (18,650’). From Gillman’s Point we can see the sunrise above the cloud line illuminating the plains below—an incredible sight to behold. A bit further around the crater and we reach our goal, Uhuru Peak (19,340’), the roof of Africa. Here we celebrate our success and marvel at the surrounding views. Thereafter, we descend back to Kibo Camp (15,580′) for a short rest before continuing on to Horombo Camp (12,205’) for the evening. All meals included.

Hiking: 3.5 miles ascending; 9.5 miles descending, 10 to 16 hours; elevation gain: 3,820’; elevation loss: 7,135’.

The final descent today is a long and gentle downhill grade. With our spirits lifted from the satisfaction of yesterday’s climb, we pass through the moorlands and rainforest before reaching the end at Marangu gate. After receiving our completion certificates from the national park, we bid our climbing team farewell and return to our hotel in Moshi. It’s a welcome treat to take a hot shower, sip a cold drink and commemorate the climb with our fellow travelers over a celebratory dinner. All meals included.

Hiking: 12.5 miles, 5 hours; elevation loss: 6,040’.

After checking out of the hotel at 11am, we take a tour of the vibrant mountain town of Moshi. This is a great time buy any souvenirs or pick up the latest Afropop tunes sold by impassioned corner-shop melophiles. After a late lunch we head to the airport for evening departures. If you’re continuing on the Kilimanjaro Safari Extension, choose to join the town tour or simply let your legs relax poolside at the hotel. Tomorrow brings another adventure, this time in the grasslands of the Serengeti, so it’s best to get some rest. Breakfast and lunch included; dinner on your own.

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