Depending on your personal travel itinerary before the climb, a pre-climb briefing and packing list/equipment check will be done one day before the climb starts (or a few days before, if possible, in case anything has to be hired or bought at the last minute).
Rongai Route is Kilimanjaro’s only route beginning from the north side and is used by few trekkers. It joins the Marangu Route on the final ascent to the summit, but otherwise not a lot of people are seen along the way. This route gives you the opportunity to witness up close the Mawenzi volcano, the second highest peak of Kilimanjaro, and the magnificent saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo Peak (which is the summit). Each day you will see many changes of vegetation and scenery. Accommodation is in mountain tents and dining is in a mess tent.
Rongai Gate (2000m) - Rongai 1 Caves Camp (2830m)
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Departure from Arusha at 8am and drive for some hours (two hours on rough roads) to the Rongai Gate. After completion of administrative formalities and meeting with porters and guides, begin the 3-4 hour walk to the first camp, Rongai 1 Caves Camp (2830m) – which is a name only, as there is actually no cave. The walk is at a leisurely pace through fields and then into the rain forest, where you can hope to spot the beautiful Black and White Colobus Monkey. Arrive at your camp and enjoy a hot meal and the first night sleeping in your tent.
Rongai 1 Caves Camp (2830m) - Rongai 2 Caves Camp (3450m)
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
A 4-5 hour trek through the heather will bring you to Rongai 2 Caves Camp. If the weather is clear, Mawenzi will be in plain view; a stunning sight. Enjoy stopping to see the exotic heather-zone flowers and plants which grow alongside the trail. Make sure you wear a hat, as it's open walking in the sunlight (weather permitting).
Rongai 2 Caves Camp (3450m) - Kikelewa Caves Camp (3600m)
Hiking Time: 4 hours
Today is a short trek designed to help you acclimatize. A smaller track leads off the main trail through the moorland and towards Mawenzi’s steeply rising slopes. The trekking time is about 4 hours, arriving in camp for a hot lunch, and a chance to acclimatize while exploring the surrounding plants, rock formations and caves. The picture on the right was taken from Kikelewa Caves Camp and shows Mawenzi Tarn in the background (where you will camp next).
Kikelewa Caves Camp (3600m)- Mawenzi Tarn Camp (4315m)
Hiking Time: 6 hours
Distance: 6km but steep
First up is a steep trail to climb, but you are rewarded with fantastic views across the natural vegetation around you. Enjoy walking through the area with few people around – tomorrow your trail joins up with the Marangu Trail. As you head toward Tarn Camp, you will have spectacular views of Mawenzi above the camp. From Tarn Campsite itself you will be able to look across the saddle towards Kibo Summit – your final target.
Mawenzi Tarn Camp (4315m) - Outward Bound Camp (4750m)
Hiking Time: 6 hours
Today is a relatively easy hike across the very wide saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo peaks. It feels like you have to walk forever, but keep your eyes on the camp ahead and use the time to think about the last big push which starts at midnight tonight. Once you reach Outward Bound Camp, rest as much as possible in preparation for the challenge ahead and enjoy an early dinner. The summit is now only 1145m above and so you will start making the final ascent just after midnight. Prepare your equipment, ski stick, thermal clothing for your last big push, and make sure you have new batteries in your headlamp and camera as well as a spare set close by. To prevent freezing it will be wise to carry your water in a thermal flask. Eat and drink as much as possible before retiring early to your tent for rest and sleep. This last push will probably be the hardest thing you will ever put your body through, so try and take some quiet time to mentally prepare yourself.
Outward Bound Camp (4750m) - Uhuru Summit (5895m) - Horombo Huts (3110m)
Hiking Time: 8 hours to the summit. 10 hours down to Horombo Huts
Distance: 7km to the summit then 20km down to Horombo Huts
Wake at midnight as this is summit day! The temperatures will be between -0 to -10°C, and then from 4am to 6am (just before sunrise), you can expect temperatures from -10° to -20°C.
Eat a light breakfast, get your head torch out and around 1am start shuffling up to Gilman's Point (5685m), on the rim of the crater. This last part is the toughest and it is where you need to pull out all that mental energy that you never knew you had inside you. Listen to your guides and concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other... you can do it! Once you get to Gilman's Point around 7am, you will move on around the crater for a couple more hours till you reach Uhuru Peak (5895m), the summit. The trek from camp to the summit will take approx 7-8 hours. After a short time to catch your breath and take some pictures, you will start the descent back down to Horombo Huts. Remember the slope back down is steep, over loose rocks and scree with some boulders as you near Gilman’s Point. Many climbers forget that there is a huge amount of trekking after summitting, so you need to summon all the energy you have and push downwards to a lower altitude level. Look out for Hans Meyer Cave on the way, which is the famous place that the first western Kilimanjaro climber described in his journals. You will pause at Kibo Hut for a short rest, before pushing downwards across the saddle to Horombo Huts where you will spend the night.
Eat dinner and get some well-deserved sleep. Horombo Huts Camp is pictured left. You will be in your cozy tent there, as only Marangu route climbers are allowed in the huts.
Horombo Huts (3110m) - Marangu Main Gate (1970m)
Hiking Time: 6 hours
Before starting the trek down to the main gate, you may like to take the last set of pictures of your climbing team, as well as give out all the tips to your guides.
Once you reach the main gate, say goodbye to your new Kili Brothers and afterwards drive back to Arusha with your Safaris-R-us representative. Enjoy a long overdue shower upon your return!
Depending on your personal itinerary, a post-climb briefing will be organized. During this briefing, a white certificate with a green frame will be given to you if you reached Gilman's Point (5685m) and a white certificate with a gold frame will be given to you if you reached Uhuru Peak (5895m).