Thursday, 12 July 2012 4:05 PM
As you may already know, there are several ways to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro, each with its own advantages and challenges. Approaching from the north-east, the Rongai route is an excellent choice, as it isn't one of the most frequented paths.
If you're still undecided about which route to take when climbing Kilimanjaro, here's a bit of information to help you work out whether the Rongai trail is the one for you.
The Rongai route takes seven days to complete and you won't join any of the other Kilimanjaro trails until the day before your summit attempt - so you'll have lots of peace and quiet along the way. From the starting point at the Nale Moru Gate at 2,020 m, you'll have a relatively steep ascent on the first two days, but if you book the Explore Worldwide Tanzanian volcano trek, which starts from £1,770 without flights, you shouldn't have a problem with acclimatisation. This is because you'll have climbed Mount Meru first, which will help you get used to walking at height.
The highest point of the trek is Ulhuru Peak - also known as the Roof of Africa - at 5,895 m. Due to the altitudes involved and the strenuous nature of the walking, you'll need to have a good level of fitness to succeed. Remember to take your time to enjoy the experience and avoid suffering from altitude sickness by ascending too quickly.
The route: an outline
You'll start your trek at the Nale Moru Gate, walking through farmland and pine forests to reach Simba Camp, your first overnight stop. It's on the edge of the moorland area at 2,600 m. From here, you make a relatively steep ascent the next morning, ending your day at the Kikilewa Caves at 3,650 m after crossing the moorland and passing the eastern icefield on the Kibo crater rim.
Day three will see you make for Mawenzi Tarn at 4,330 m, where you'll have a bit of free time to relax and further explore the landscape. The next day, you'll trek to Kibo Hut, at 4,700 m, on the Marangu trail, where you'll spend the night before your summit attempt.
Departing from your camp at around midnight, you'll head to Ulhuru Peak at 5,896 m, stopping at Gilman's point along the way to watch the sunrise. After standing on the Roof of Africa, you head back to Kibo Hut and then descend further to Horombu Hut to spend your final night on the mountain. The following morning, you'll finish your trek at the Marangu Gate.
Highlights of the trek
The early stages of the Rongai route give you the opportunity to spot some of the native wildlife - including Colobus monkeys, elephants and buffaloes, which is sure to be an exciting diversion. However, it is the amazing scenery you'll witness as you get higher that will really take your breath away.
One of the most spectacular sections of the Rongai trail is the saddle that links Mawenzi with Kibo Hut. The views of the plains below and Kilimanjaro towering ahead are truly spectacular, while the lunar desert landscape you're walking in is also fascinating to see. Of course, watching the sunrise on your final push to the summit will be a memorable moment, as will reaching the top of Ulhuru Peak.
A book is located at the top of this Tanzanian volcano where the majority of climbers who have scaled the mountain leave their thoughts on the experience. You can add yours too and take some time to enjoy the panoramic views over the plains before you begin your descent.