The Rongai route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, close to the Kenyan border. Though gaining popularity amongst climbers, this route still experiences low crowds. Rongai has a more gradual slope than the mountain’s other routes. It is the preferred route for those looking for an alternative to the popular Marangu route, for those who would like a more remote hike, and for those who are climbing during the rainy season (the north side receives less precipitation). Rongai is a moderately difficult route, and is highly recommended, especially for those with less backpacking experience. Although the scenery is not as varied as the western routes, Rongai makes up for this by passing through true wilderness areas for nearly the entire way. Descent is made via the Marangu route. Burigi Chato Safaris® offers Rongai as a seven days group climb or a six days climb. The six day variation does not have an acclimatization day on day four at Mawenzi Tarn.
We take a ride to Marangu to complete the necessary registration formalities, before transferring by SUV to Rongai. The climb begins from Nale Moru (6,400 ft) on a small path that winds through fields of maize and potatoes before entering a pine forest. The track then starts to climb consistently, but gently through an attractive forest that shelters a variety of wildlife, including the Colobus monkey. These monkeys are black with a long ‘cape’ of white hair and a flowing white tail. The forest begins to thin out at the edge of the moorland zone. Then, we take in the expansive views over the Kenyan plains as we arrive at our first campsite at Rongai One Camp (8,500 ft).