We booked this Kilimanjaro Guided Trek Package: Rongai Route trip for 2 friends from Utah. They were very active adventurers, and hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, had been on their bucket list for many years. They finally decided to take the plunge and book this guided tour with qualified guides along the Rongai Route (a less crowded and gentler alternative to the popular Marangu Route).
Upon arrival at Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro International Airport, they had a transfer to Kilimanjaro Mountain Lodge, where they had a chance to enjoy some creature comforts, try a local banana beer, and socialize with their fellow climbers before the trek.
The next day, they began their Kilimanjaro Guided Trek Package: Rongai Route trip. After checking in at the national park gate, they transferred to the north side of Mt. Kilimanjaro (which receives less rain and has an easier trek to the summit) to begin their climb. They saw the landscape change as they ascended, from farmlands to forest to empty, rocky moorlands.
Over the next few days, they continued making their way up to Mawenzi, a high volcanic peak near the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and the Kibo Crater with its surrounding ice fields. They slept in tents in rustic campsites, though they did have the convenience of a cook who joined them along their trek and provided delicious meals, as well as porters to carry their bags.
Once they reached the Kibo campsite, it was time for the highlight of their Kilimanjaro Guided Trek Package: Rongai Route trip. Setting off at 1 am, with only the light of their headlamps to guide them, they made their final ascent up to Gillman’s Point to witness a spectacular sunrise over Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Then it was time for their journey back down to earth along the Marangu Route, descending through lush rainforest dotted with picturesque waterfalls. They even saw some of the beautiful black and white colobus monkeys swinging around in the trees! At last, they returned to the park gate to receive their certificates. They were transferred back to Kilimanjaro Mountain Lodge where they transferred onto Gibbs Farm near the Ngorogoro Crater for three days of relaxing and exploring the area before commencing their journey home.
Welcome to Tanzania! Fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport and enjoy a transfer to Kilimanjaro Mountain Resort. Enjoy the amenities such as internet, ensuite bathroom, spa, and pool. Perhaps try an Mbege (banana beer), a traditional drink of the local Chagga tribe, at the bar. Your trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro begins tomorrow!
Kilimanjaro Mountain Resort
After completing the necessary registration formalities at Marangu National Park gate, you and your fellow climbers will be transferred by Landcruiser to the Rongai climbing route—a less crowded alternative to the popular Marangu Route, and perfect for those with less backpacking experience.
Your climb begins from the attractive wooden village of Nale Moru (1,950 m) on a small path that winds through fields of maize and potatoes before entering pine forest. The track then starts to climb consistently, but gently, through attractive forest that shelters a variety of wildlife, including the beautiful Kilimanjaro Colobus monkey. These monkeys are black with a long cape of white hair and a flowing white tail. As the forest begins to thin, you’ll find your first camp at the edge of the moorland zone (2,600 m). Soak up extensive views over the Kenyan plains at this overnight stop.
This morning, your walk is a steady ascent up to the Second Cave (3,450 m), with superb views of Kibo and the eastern ice fields on the crater rim. After lunch, leave the main trail and strike out across the moorland on a smaller, gentle path toward the jagged peaks of Mawenzi. Your campsite is in a sheltered valley dotted with giant senecio plants near Kikelewa Caves (3,600 m).
A short but steep climb up grassy slopes is rewarded by superb all-around views and a tangible sense of wilderness. You’ll leave vegetation behind shortly before reaching the next camp at Mawenzi Tarn (4,330 m), spectacularly situated in a sheltered hollow directly beneath the towering spires of Mawenzi, a dormant volcanic peak. The afternoon will be free to rest or explore the surrounding area. A little climb up the ridges and spires of Mawenzi will help you acclimate to the altitude.
Today, you’ll cross “the saddle” between Mawenzi and Kibo. This ruggedly beautiful, alpine desert landscape is a stretch of true wilderness. Enjoy clear views in the early morning. By afternoon, you’re likely to see misty clouds rolling in. Make your way to the School Campsite/Kibo Huts (4,750 m) at the bottom of the Kibo crater wall. This otherwordly landscape is strewn with large boulders and enveloped by mist. Spend the remainder of the day relaxing and acclimating before your final ascent.
You will begin your final ascent (by far steepest and most demanding part of your journey) by torchlight around 1 am. You’ll trek along steep switchback trails on volcanic scree slopes, the path lit only by your headlamp, until you reach the crater rim at Gillman’s Point (5,685 m). Here, you will be treated to a spectacular sunrise over Mawenzi—a truly breathtaking reward for your efforts!
Those who are still feeling strong can make the 3-hour round-trip trek to Uhuru Peak (5,896 m), passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area, while the rest of the group rests at Gillman’s Point. Descend back down to the Kibo Huts (4,700 m) and meet the Marangu trail, where you will begin your descent down the other side of Mt. Kilimanjaro. After some refreshment here, continue downward to reach your final scenic campsite at Horombo (3,720 m).
A steady descent takes you through the moorland until you reach Mandara Hut (2,700 m). As you continue down the mountain, you will see the landscape and vegetation changing—one noticeable sign is the lichen dangling from the trees, giving this forest the nickname “bearded forest.” Your path down to the park gate is very scenic, traveling through lush rainforest on a steep, graveled trail. You’ll see a few picturesque waterfalls en route, and if you’re lucky, some blue monkeys or black and white colobus monkeys!
At Marangu gate, you will receive your certificate of congratulations for successfully climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. If you reached Gillman’s Point, you will receive a green certificate, and if you reached Uhuru Peak, you will receive a gold certificate. Your driver will be waiting at the gate to hand you a packed lunch before driving you back to Kilimanjaro Mountain Lodge for a hot shower, relaxing dip in the pool, and an evening to celebrate your achievement with your fellow climbers.
Kilimanjaro Mountain Lodge
Your successful journey comes to an end today. After breakfast, your driver will transfer you back to Kilimanjaro International Airport, where you will be met by your driver to take to you the beautiful Gibbs Farm for 3 days of relaxing after your hike up Kilimanjaro.
The next two days are yours for leisure, relaxing and refreshing after your hike. Or you can choose to arrange outings to the local National Parks. Gibbs Farm is close to Ngorogoro Crate, Lake Manyara, Arusha National Park, and Lake Eyasi.
Today you are transferred back to Kilimanjaro International Airport for your journey back hom.