The Rongai route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, close to the Kenyan border. Rongai is the preferred route for those looking for an alternative to the crowded Marangu route and for those who are climbing during the rainy season (the north side receives less rain).
Starting in rain forest near the border with Kenya there are views of Kibo and dramatic Mawenzi as the route continues through alpine heather and moorland. Stopping at caves and experiencing the unique environment, this trek is scenic, with views looking into Kenya and the famous Amboseli National Park, as well as the peaks above. Taking a rest day at Mawenzi tarn helps acclimatise. Leaving the tarn the route then crosses the Saddle, a harsh expanse of alpine desert separating Kibo from Mawenzi that is seemingly lifeless, and dominated by Kibo. Reaching the edge of the Saddle, camp is at Kibo Hut. The summit is now above and an early start of around 2 am is made to reach the crater rim and the top, Uhuru Peak, for sunrise. Kilimanjaro is one of the world's highest free-standing mountains so there are 360 degree views of the African plains roughly 4000 metres below from the summit, as well as Mt Meru and Mt Kenya. Descent is along the Marangu route, which goes past the other side of Mawenzi and down into moorland and forest on its way to the Marangu gate.
Rongai is a moderately difficult, more gradual route and is recommended for those with less trekking experience.