The Rongai Route Itinerary

Day One:

Nalemuru Village 6,398 ft (1,950 m)
Moorland Camp 8,530 ft (2,600 m)
Ascent 2,133 ft (650 m)
Descent 0 ft (0 m)
Walking time 3 to 4 hours

After a short walk through an attractive farmland and pine forest of a Nalemuru village, the trail enters an attractive natural forest. This is a good walk in good weather with plenty of interesting flora and fauna. Most notable are black and white colobus monkeys and some exelent bird life. The path underfoot is generally wide and clear but there are lots of tree roots, so sturdy ankle-supporting boots are required from the start. This side of the mountsain does not receive anywhere near as much rain as the southwestern side of the mountain and the underfoot condiotions do not deteriorate into the thick boggy mud that is not uncommon on the Machame Route. But this does not guarantee you that it will not rain.

The path continues climbing steadily through the forest until gradually it emerges out of the forest and into the next climatic zone, the Heath and Moorland Zone. Soon after this, around mid-afternoon, you will arrive at the first campsite, where your camp will be already in position and a nice cup of tea waiting for you. It may well be misty at this altitude during this later part of the day.

Day Two:

Moorland Camp 8,530 ft (2,600 m)
Second Cave Camp 11,319 ft (3,450 m)
Ascent 2,789 ft (850 m)
Descent 0 ft (0 m)
Walking time 3 to 4 hours

This is a fairly gentle acclimatisation day consisting of a morning walk up to the Second Cave. The walk is a steady incline with superb views of Kibo and eastern icefields on the crater rim. The afternoon is spent enjoying the views over the Kenyan plains or on a short acclimatization walk up towards Third Cave – 3900m.

Day Three:

Second Cave Camp 11,319 ft (3,450 m)
Kikelelwa Cave Camp 11,811 ft (3,600 m)
Ascent 492 ft (150 m)
Descent 0 ft (0 m)
Walking time 3 hours

A second acclimatization day. We follow the route away from the main trail and strike out across the moorland on a smaller path towards the jagged peaks of Mawenzi. The camp site is in a sheltered valley with giant senecios near Kikelelwa Cave, and after lunch there is a time for additional acclimatization walk in the nearby valleys.

Day Four:

Kikelelwa Cave Camp 11,811 ft (3,600 m)
Mawenzi Tarn Hut Camp 14,206 ft (4,330 m)
Ascent 2,395 ft (730 m)
Descent 0 ft (0 m)
Walking time 3 to 4 hours

A short but steep climb up grassy slopes which is rewarded by superb all-round views and a tangible sense of wilderness. Shortly afterwards the vegetation is left behind and the immensity of the mountain begins to loom.

The next camp is at the glass-like Mawenzi Tarn, spectacularly situated in a sheltered cirque directly beneath the towering spires of Mawenzi. This is good terrain for famous giant senecios to grow into impressive specimens, and the afternoon will be free to rest and explore the surrounding areas as an aid to acclimatisation.

You are now at 4330m and may well be starting to feel the effects of altitude. Do not worry too much as it is a necessary part of the acclimazation to come up a little bit too high and then descend. It is normal for the effects of acute mountain sickness to occur at this altitude. At this time your guide will check on you and see if there is a need for an immediate descent down the mountain. Plenty of climbers experience slight headaches, dizziness, loss of appetite and sleeplessness which usually go away by having some rest and drinking plenty of water or taking some aspirin.

Day Five:

Mawenzi Tarn Camp 14,206 ft (4,330 m)
Kibo Huts Camp 15,420 ft (4,700 m)
Ascent 1,214 ft (370 m)
Descent 328 ft (100 m)
Walking time 4 to 5 hours

The trek leaves directly across the saddle between the two volcanoes of Mawenzi and the towering Kibo. As you come out from the Mawenzi massif you feel like you are walking out onto a center stage. Keep an eye out for the elusive eland, the largest antelope in the world which inhabits this altitude zone.

As you cross the alpine dessert, the open landscape affords all-round views and right throughout the day Kibo looms ever closer. Eventually you can make out the winding summit path high above on the flanks of the mountain. You should get into camp early afternoon. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent.

Day Six:

Kibo Huts Camp 15,420 ft (4,700 m)
Gilmans Point 18,639 ft (5,681 m)
Uhuru Peak 19,340 ft (5,895 m)
Ascent 3,760 ft (1,146 m)
Descent 6,614 ft (2,016)
Walking time 11 to 15 hours

Waking up at midnight and getting ready for the final ascent, around 1 a.m., and by using your headlamps, the plan is to get to Gilmans Point on the crater rim in time to watch the sun rise over the jagged peaks of Mawenzi. Five to six hours of trudging up generally well-graded zigzags, this way and that way, backwards and forwards in the dark, up hill all the way. On some streches the ground is stable, while in others the loose volcanic scree scrunches and slides underfoot. Heads up past Williams Point (5000m) and keep moving to Hans Meyer Cave (5151m). All the way you will be encouraged by your guides to keep moving “pole pole” (slowly) take regular rest stops and catch your breath.

After about 5 to 6 hours you should be at Gilmans Point (5681m). Actually, after all the endless false ridges it can come as quite a surprise to some people. Here you rest for 10 15 minutes, enjoying the sunrise over Mawenzi, then the final push begins. This 45 minutes to 1 hour climb is the highlight of the climb. Walking along the crater rim, passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy much of the summit area, you finally move on to Uhuru Peak at 19,340f (5895m). It is this summit experience that climbers talk most enthusiastically about when they get off the mountain. The view from the top is dramatic. The weather and effects of altitude will determine how long we stay here celebrating.

Coming down may not be as tough as going up, but it does present its own set of difficulties. The main problems are usually knee and toe related. Knee problems can be alleviated by proper use of two walking poles. Toe problems should be alleviated by tightening your boots up before the descent in order to prevent your feet from crushing your toes inside your boots. You can easily loose a toe-nail if your boots are too loose or too small.

Head down the Marangu trail towards Horombo, if you have the confidence and energy to scree-run, then this is pretty easy. If not, then it is a long and tiring slide. Finally you will get into camp after an awesome descent of over 2000m. For some people this descent is actually a highlight.

Day Seven:

Horombo Huts Camp 12,203 ft (3,720 m)
Marangu Gate 6,000 ft (1,830 m)
Ascent 0 ft (0 m)
Descent 6,200 ft (1,890 m)
Walking time 5 to 6 hours

Soon after breakfast on this day there will be a farewell celebration – the staff will be singing and dancing a kilimanjaro song. Thanks and tips for your guides and support are appreciated. Now it's time to take a group photo!

By now you have probably lost all interest in your surroundings and you are thinking only of a shower, a massage, a beer and above all, a comfortable bed. The descent returns back to the beautiful rain forest and to the park gate at Marangu (1830m). A vehicle will be waiting for you at the park gate and usually you will part from the climb team at this point. Over the days you will have created a real bond with your team on the mountain, so it’s sad to say goodbye. Remember to get addresses so you can keep in touch.

Cost

$3150 per person

Inclusive

All park fees, 3 nights hotel accommodation, all transfers, all food and bevarages on the mountain, guides and porters, oxygen cylinder, gamow bag, and a private bathroom tent on the mountain. See equipment.