See why you should climb Kilimanjaro Rongai route

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Across the savannah’s open tree canopy a massive landform rises in Tanzania.  A mountain frequently fringed with hazy clouds, but Kilimanjaro is by no means just a mountain!

Mount Kilimanjaro, the largest free standing volcanic mass in the world is on many adventure seeker’s life-list!  All over the world it’s famous for its summit trek! But there is so much more to this mysterious mountain…

Climbing Kilimanjaro is the ultimate teaming challenge of both body and mind! And, its character building because it reframes your patience levels with fellow hikers. Though, once conquered, “The gravity of consequence of inspiring others is realised. And, you see the world from this Mountain!” says Andrew, Tanzanite Kilimanjaro Safaris.

The Mountain is in fact an ecosystem! And, to see 5 climatic zones along your trek, is comparable to journeying from the equator to the North Pole. And the forest’s precipitation and height are some of the reasons why snow remains throughout the year. Despite it being within close proximity to the equator!

There are several routes to consider, but let’s see why the Rongai route is worth your consideration:

  • NaleMuru Village
  • What distinguishes the camps from each other
  • Camp highlights, fauna and flora 
  • Helpful hints
  • Camp to camp distances

NaleMuru Village

Embarking on your Kilimanjaro trip is an exhilarating time. Every day in Africa is a feast for the senses! From waking-up to the sound of bird song, and the aroma of fresh coffee, to watching the sunset over the savannah.

NaleMuru / Nalemoru is your last stop before embarking on the Rongai route up Kilimanjaro. Situated in the Rongai forest, the scene is incomparable, and breathtaking in its vast scale. It is considered a village due to the settlers who live and take care of the forest. Once the tree plantations have been harvested, the land becomes free to the locals to use to cultivate on, for approximately 4 years.

Close to Nalemoru, is Kikelelwa Village, the home of the Chagga Tribe. Due to the fertile volcanic soil, their village life is centred around a prosperous agricultural farming scene.

Although the hills dominate the plains with a calm strength, they are the monarchs of a scenically spectacular kingdom of sub-tropical fields such as maize, yams, chickpeas, avocados, and banana. Interestingly, banana trees originate from Southern Asia, where sages were so fond of musing in their shade, that the family name of the banana became musa. 

Another important contributor to farming on the hills of Kilimanjaro is Arabica coffee production. If you are a coffee lover, the harvest time is usually between October and February. Guests may participate in tours and explore: how to plant, grow, harvest the coffee trees, and of course continue with drinking. Just like different people enjoy different ways of eating their breakfast, coffee delights people in so many different ways!

According to legend, coffee was discovered in Ethiopia when goat herders noticed that their flocks stayed awake at night after feeding on coffee leaves and berries. The herder tried the berries himself and energy swept through his body. He began to love those magical beans after the first try. The distribution of coffee beans is believed to begin from that day forward. And it was during the 16th century, coffee was brought into the Tanzanian region from Ethiopia. 

What distinguishes the camps from each other

The main differences between Rongai route the camps:

  1. Altitude
  2. Zones:
  • bush
  • farming
  • forest
  • moorland
  • alpine
  • ice-cap 

3. Water availability

Camp highlights, fauna and flora


SIMBA CAMP is found in a forest zone and wildlife highlights may include:

  • Monkeys, including colobus and blue. 
  • Gazelle – nicknamed the “swift deer”, is a medium sized antelope inhabiting grassland. 
  • Dikdik  – tiny endearing antelope, which may vary in colour depending on its habitat. 

A forests’ make-up is substantially more than just trees! It retains an extraordinary complex ecosystem. Every forest has various strata (layers) of plants. This ranges from the canopy, to the understory, the shrub layer, the herb layer and the forest floor.

SECOND CAVE is found in a heath and moorland zone, and wildlife highlights may include:

  • Gazelle
  • Dikdik
  • African buffalo (although they are rare to see) – considered a bovid due to their hollow horns, they are also bulk grazers. They prefer open areas, are nomadic, and need water every day. 

Heath is a low ever-green shrub which grows on moorlands. Most species of heath are native to Africa, aside from the Scotch heath. The plant has a low, grayish, hairy stalk, with broom-like branches, and leaves like needles. And many have colourful blossoms. 

KIKELELWA CAMP is found in Moorland zone and wildlife highlights may include

  • Dikdik 
  • Birds, example:
    •  Raven – a member of the crow family, although all black and slightly bigger than the white-necked raven. They are intelligent and adaptable birds. They can be heard by their gurgling croaks. 
    • Malachite sunbird – a large long-billed bird with a piercing ‘tseep tseep call’. The male has metallic green plumage with yellow pectoral tufts. 

MAWENZI HUT is found alpine desert and wildlife highlights may include 

  • Mice,
  • Gazelle but rare to see them.

KIBO HUT is found in the Alpine desert zone

Generally thought of as hot, barren, and little rainfall. Most deserts lie between the latitudes of 15° and 35° on each side of the equator. These latitudes are in zones of high atmospheric pressure. 

HOROMBO HUT / UHURU is found in the icecap / glacier zone

Considered a large mass of ice that flows slowly over land in the cold polar regions and high mountain valleys. These valley glaciers often move down sloping valleys from a cirque, a bowl-shaped hollow with steep walls located among the peaks. 

Helpful hints

Choosing this route for your trek has many benefits, including:

  • Breathtaking scenery, and a gentle hiking altitude for acclimatisation. 
  • Few climbers make for a quieter trail.
  • 7 days – shorter distances, less fatigue. Especially for first-time climbers.
  • Summit success rate is 99%.
  • Each climber should do proper planning. After all half the fun is in the planning and preparation. 
  • Choose credible hiking gear for comfort and safety. 
  • Boots should be worn-in prior to climbing.
  • Take the climate into consideration when packing. 
  • Golden rule! Stay with your group, never ever set-off alone.  
  • Porters are provided who carry climbers bags to make your load lighter.
  • Climbers carry camera, water and passport.
  • Restore your energy with snacks including nuts, energy bars, granola, chocolate or trail mix.
  • Kilimanjaro Tanzanite’s chef / cook creates a daily menu especially suited for mountain climbing. As the altitude increases, your body’s food requirements will change.

Camp to camp distance

  • From Rongai gate to Simba Camp = 7km
  • Simba camp to Second cave = 8km
  • Second cave to Kikelelwa = 8km
  • Kikelelwa to turn hut = 3km
  • Mawenzi turn to Kibo hut = 10km
  • Kibo to Uhuru peak = 6km
  • Kibo to Horombo hut = 9km
  • Horombo to Mandara hut = 11km
  • Mandara hut to Marangu gate = 8km

Book Rongai route with Kilimanjaro Tanzanite Safaris

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Tracy Burrows114 Posts

    Tracy Burrows is the founder of the Out There Global platform featuring both cost effective and luxury best cultural vacation ideas & experiences from around the world. From Jan 2014 – Dec 2016 she managed the blog (a United Nations World Summit Award Winner: Culture & Tourism 2016 & National Geographic partner). She was also consulting editor at MOZambique Magazine, and a contributing writer at Sawubona Magazine (South African Airways inflight magazine), and Africa Geographic. Prior to her career she obtained a tourism research, and marketing degree, and also graduated from a 2 year ‘Management in Development Program’ in San Diego California. She also acquired a qualification in journalism and media and since it’s been all about culture, adventure and multi media! Her nourishment comes from all those who have impacted her, including: family; friends; and strangers alike. Thank you for joining our journey, and we hope you enjoy finding an immersive experience and the culture & adventure in the destination! Aside from Out There Global Magazine, Tracy has also run a Public Relations, and SEO business since 2010 for small business.


    • David Saucier Reply

      July 20, 2023 at 5:34 pm

      You back I was worried we were not getting any more content. Don’t be such a stranger

    • Olivia Reply

      July 21, 2023 at 6:49 am

      I love the 99% success rate

    • Yorum Satın Al Reply

      July 22, 2023 at 9:54 pm

      Useful article, thank you. Top article, very helpful.

    • Andrew Reply

      July 23, 2023 at 11:20 am

      Insightful and useful for planning thanks

    • Marc Reply

      July 24, 2023 at 1:48 pm

      What a great write-up for Kili and dang I am thinking Rongai it is.

    • Ben Reply

      July 26, 2023 at 11:56 am

      What time of year do you suggest is best to go?

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