About the challenge
The quiet Rongai Route approaches Africa’s highest mountain from the north, and provides spectacular views of the summit and its magnificent ice fields as we climb high above the plains. Our trek starts on fairly open slopes, where we may see wildlife including buffalo and colobus monkeys. We ascend gradually as we contour through moorland towards jagged Mawenzi peak, one of Kilimanjaro’s three volcanic cones. Leaving the vegetation behind us, we continue over rocky, boulder-strewn slopes and scree before reaching the summit. We then descend through thick rainforest to the south of the mountain. With an extra day spent ascending the mountain compared to many routes, this is a great choice for trekkers wanting more time to acclimatise to the altitude.
Day 1: Depart London
Day 2: Arrive Tanzania – Nalemoru
Drive approx 3-4 hrs
We arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport and transfer to our hotel on the northern flank of Kilimanjaro, nor far from the Kenyan border. The drive is beautiful with (weather permitting) some great views of the mountain, and it passes through several traditional Chagga villages, where you can glimpse the local way of life. We check in and relax, with time to sort out our kit for tomorrow before dinner and a briefing. Night hotel.
Day 3: Rongai Gate – Simba Camp
Trek approx 7km; 4-6 hrs
Our lodge lies very close to the gateway to our trek, and we leave on foot and complete park formalities at Rongai Gate, sometimes referred to as Nalemoru Gate (2300m). Now accompanied by our porters, we start our climb of a lifetime! The first section of the route climbs gradually, passing through pine plantations, and potato and maize fields. We are likely to see wildlife such as buffalo and colobus monkeys as well as a variety of birdlife. As we continue up, we come to lush green forest, with olive and juniper trees, which in turn gives way to heathland. A short distance later we reach Simba Camp (2668m). Night camp.
Day 4: Simba Camp – Second Cave Camp
Trek approx 6km; 4-6 hrs
Our route continues on up through the heathland, which is covered with a thick layer of heather. The lush green is behind us already, and the paths can be dusty. We have great views of Mawenzi – Kilimanjaro’s secondary but more technical peak – and Kibo, the summit crater. On a clear day we can see the icefields on the crater rim. Arriving at our camp, we can have a rest and then head off on an acclimatization walk up to Third Cave (3800m). Night camp: Second Cave Camp (3479m).
Day 5: Second Cave Camp – Kikelewa Camp
Trek approx 6km; 6-7 hrs
We trek in a southeasterly direction towards the impressive, jagged peak of Mawenzi. Your cameras will be busy today! Our path meanders gently through open moorland before arriving at our camp in a sheltered valley. Night camp: Kikelewa Camp (3679m).
Day 6: Kikelewa Camp – Mawenzi Tarn Hut
Trek approx 4km; 5-7 hrs
Our distance today is short, but our route is steep and we take our time. We gain approx 600m in height today, and the landscape around us changes dramatically as we near camp. The vegetation zone is left behind, replaced with a semi-desert of arid, rocky land. For extra acclimatisation to the altitude, you can opt for a short trek to the ridge, where there are spectacular views of Kibo crater. Our camp is situated in a stunning location beneath the peaks of Mawenzi. Night camp: Mawenzi Tarn Hut Camp (4330m).
Day 7: Mawenzi Tarn Hut – Kibo Hut
Trek approx 9km; 6-8 hrs
Today’s trek takes us westwards across the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo Huts, where we camp. The terrain is dry, rocky and desert-like, a little like a lunar landscape, though you may find the occasional plant-form miraculously clinging to life. Night camp: Kibo Hut Camp (4700m)
Day 8: Kibo Hut – Summit – Horombo Hut
Trek approx 19km (6km ascent); 10–12 hrs
We avoid walking too long in the heat of the sun today by starting while it’s dark, and walk steeply upwards to the summit glaciers. The first section of the ascent is on rocky path, which becomes a steep scree slope which we slowly zig-zag our way up. We gain incredible height over a short distance. The views are spectacular as the first rays of the sun hit us. We ascend to Gillman’s Point (5685m), on the rim of Kibo Crater, and contour round to the summit at Uhuru Peak (5896m). Spectacular ice cliffs within the crater surround us and the views are breathtaking. We begin our descent by retracing our steps and descending on scree slope back down the mountain to our camp at Kibo Hut. Stopping for breakfast and a rest, we continue our descent through giant groundsel and lobelias to Horombo Hut Camp, where we have a long, well-earned rest. On our descent we have fabulous views of the plains. Night camp: Horombo Hut Camp (3700m).
Day 9: Horombo Hut Camp – Marangu Gate – Moshi
Trek approx 19km; 5 hrs
A gentle trek takes us down through the magnificent rainforest, quite dense in places, to Marangu Gate, where we complete park formalities and receive certificates, which you can hang up with pride! We are then met by our vehicles and return to our hotel in Moshi town, where you can treat yourself to a welcome shower (and a cold beer or two!) before our big celebration. Night hotel. (Dinner not included)
Day 10: Free time Moshi – Flight
Free day, allowing you to explore Moshi, where there are some good markets, and relax with your fellow achievers. You can also opt to visit a Community Project we support on a long-term basis – a children’s home on the outskirts of Moshi. We return to the hotel mid-afternoon in time to transfer to the airport for our international flight home. (Lunch not included.)
Day 11: Arrive UK
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The cost includes all accommodation as well as all flights, transfers, camping equipment (other than sleeping bag and mat); all meals except two as specified in the itinerary; National Park entry fees and all other sites visited as part of the itinerary. Experienced Discover Adventure leaders and doctor (depending on final group size) are also included, along with a local support crew of porters, guides, cooks and drivers.
It does not include personal travel insurance, airline fuel supplement if charged by the airline, two meals as specified, tips for local crew, Tanzanian entry visa or international airport tax. It also does not include any entrance fees to any optional sites you may wish to visit on your free day. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. There is plenty of opportunity to buy souvenirs. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights), and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with Ethiopian Airlines, however, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.
We camp for six nights during the trek in two-man tents; you will be sharing with someone else on your trek. Camp facilities include tables, chairs and dining-tents. The hotels are comfortable and clean with private facilities, but please do not expect the same standards as you would in a tourist hotel in the UK!
All food is included when camping. The food is great, will give you plenty of energy, and there is plenty of it. Two meals as specified in the itinerary are not included.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic (dependent on group size), who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but at Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: trekker ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Local Support Crew
Our local support crew is made up of local guides, drivers, cooks and porters. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Drivers, cooks and porters do not always speak much English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely. Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your trek. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in this country is far below what you would spend on a normal night out.
Vehicles take the group to the start of the trek and pick us up at the end. Porters carry all luggage, food, water and camping equipment. There are strict rules restricting the weight of the load a Kilimanjaro porter is permitted to carry. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
Terrain is very varied as we pass through different eco-systems as we ascend the mountain. We trek over farmland, moorland, rocky trail and scree and overgrown forest paths. Much of the walking is rough underfoot. Lower down it can be wet and muddy; higher up barren and arid.
This trek is challenging in itself, but the main challenge lies in the altitude. The Rongai Route allows for excellent acclimatisation to the altitude as it contours around the mountain, rather than going straight up, and allows you to trek higher than you sleep at important points on the ascent. Symptoms of being at altitude include tiredness, shortness of breath, headaches and nausea. Altitude affects people differently and being super-fit is no guarantee of being less likely to feel the effects. Where a participant is suffering from the effects of altitude, it may be necessary to walk them back down the mountain. There will be more information about altitude in the information pack we send you upon booking. You will trek approximately 70km on this trip overall. Because of the varied terrain and lack of accurate maps, it’s impossible to give more accurate daily distances. It’s also much more useful when training to think about the hours you need to walk for, and the terrain!
Clothing & Equipment
We are trekking on a remote mountain, where we could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. Weather conditions can change quickly on the mountain. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
Late March to early June and November are Tanzania’s rainy seasons. For the rest of the year the weather is equatorial and very pleasant, with often a cool breeze on the mountains. Although warm by day, and hot on the valley floor, altitude has a great effect on temperatures and it will get cooler as you climb higher. It will also be cold at night, sometimes below freezing, and extremely cold at the summit.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is essential; it should be valid for at least six months after departure from Tanzania. Most nationalities, including UK citizens, require a visa for entry into Tanzania. This can currently be purchased on arrival at the airport for $50. We will send you more information about visas nearer to departure.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. A Yellow Fever certificate is necessary if arriving from an infected country. Although you are unlikely to encounter any mosquitoes while you are above 1000m, protection against malaria is recommended as there is a risk at lower elevations. You should always check with your GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow trekkers and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you!
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through. AITO, our Trade Association, has recognised the work we do in this area and has awarded us 5 stars as a Responsible Tour Operator.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with BTCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Make your volunteer pledge by going to www.tcv.org