The Rongai Route approaches from the north and offers a unique perspective on Kilimanjaro, as well as being the quietest of all the routes.. Experience the incredible African sunrise from Mt Kilimanjaro – the ultimate reward for conquering Africa’s premier peak.. Hike through the dense greenery of Mt Kilimanjaro’s foothills, spotting native creatures and wildflowers along the way.. Witness the jagged beauty of the Mawenzi cirque during a hike through high-altitude desert, then camp by a lake that lies beneath the 5149-metre peaks.
Tackle Mt Kilimanjaro via the quiet wilderness of the Rongai Route on this eight-day Lonely Planet Experience, powered by Intrepid. Approach the striking mountain from the north for the opportunity to see mountainside animals like monkeys and even the occasional elephant. Traverse through rich forests along the north-eastern side, then trek to the summit at dawn for a spectacular sunrise. With an expert crew of local porters, guides and cooks, you’re in capable hands for a hike that promises to be unforgettable.
Breakfast Included: 7 Lunches Included: 6 Dinner Included: 7
Jambo! Welcome to Tanzania. Your Lonely Planet Experience, powered by Intrepid, begins in the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro in Marangu. The hotel is a short walk from the village’s bustling market and some excellent coffee shops. It is also very close to some beautiful waterfalls and ancient Chagga caves. Please make sure you are at the hotel by early evening, as your trip starts with a full briefing and kit inspection by an experienced Kilimanjaro climber.
Enjoy some breakfast before meeting your guides and porters. Each person has a personal porter and there are extra porters for camping equipment and food. This morning you’ll transfer to the northern side of the mountain and the village of Nale Moru (1950 metres). On the way we stop into one of the clothes lending offices of Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Projects and learn how their program, supported by the Intrepid Foundation, is assisting porters. As you walk up from the gate you’ll wind through cultivated farmland and pine forest plantations before entering lush forests. As you go along, keep your eyes peeled – many species of bird hide in the trees, and you might be lucky enough to see monkeys and signs of larger game. Your first mountain camp is on the edge of the moorland zone with great views back down to the plains and into Kenya.
Rise early for a hot drink and a hearty breakfast. Your walk commences with a steady uphill ascent which will bring you to the second cave (3450 metres). Look above and see the glorious Kibo peak of Kilimanjaro looming – the eastern ice fields cling to the mountain's crater rim. Down below, the slope sweeps away down into the forests. The third cave is our goal for today, so we will head further up the mountain and reach the camp in the afternoon.
This morning you have a steady but steep ascent under the jagged peaks of Mawenzi. Leave the grassy slopes and vegetation zone behind as you enter the high-altitude desert. Make the journey to the Mawenzi Tarn, the location of tonight’s camp. This is the only permanent lake on Kilimanjaro. You'll see the 5149-metre peak towering above you as you complete your hike. Enjoy free time this afternoon – take the opportunity to relax. It's important to pace yourself – this is part of the acclimatisation process.
Kibo Camp/Uhuru Peak
Head out into the lunar landscape of 'The Saddle', a broad tundra desert between the two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo. From here you can take in fantastic views of the upper reaches of the mountain. Continue to Kibo Camp (4703 metres), which that has limited facilities. Tonight, prepare for tomorrow’s final ascent. Take the opportunity to re-pack your bag and leave any non-essential items with the porters – you'll need all your energy for the summit. It's important to retire early tonight and get as good a sleep as you can, as there will be a midnight start in order to reach the summit in the morning before the cloud cover settles and have time to get back down.
Uhuru Peak/Horombo Camp
Prepare for a demanding but rewarding day. The guides will wake you before midnight. Starting your walk in darkness, you will zig-zag up a long scree slope by the light of your head torch. At this time of day the scree is still frozen, which makes it easier to walk on. After roughly 2 hours we should reach Hans Meyer's Cave, which is named after the German geologist who made the first successful ascent in 1889. The gradient will get steeper, and 3 hours on (this is the hardest stretch of the ascent) we should reach the crater rim at Johanne’s Notch. From here it's a short scramble to Gillman's Point (5680 metres) in time for dawn. The reward is the dramatic spectacle of the sun rising over the ice fields and craggy peaks of Mawenzi – the profusion of colours and shapes make all the exertion seem worthwhile. Those with some drive left can take another couple of hours to hike along the crater rim to Uhuru (Freedom) Peak (5895 metres). Your descent retraces the route to Kibo Camp. Here you can get some food and recharge a little before continuing down to Horombo Camp for a well-deserved rest.
The descent from Horombo to Mandara Camp takes around 3 hours, and the final part of the descent through the forest to Marangu Gate takes another 2 hours. Vehicles will be waiting at the gate to take you and your crew back to the hotel. Enjoy an invigorating hot shower – a real treat after the intense physical effort of the last few days. Over a celebratory meal you can relive and share your experiences of the past five days on the mountain.
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast. Transfers to Kilimanjaro Airport or a shuttle to Nairobi can be arranged locally. Please speak to your leader about this at the welcome meeting on Day 1.