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Trip Report: Kilimanjaro Rongai Route, Tanzania

Travel Forums Africa and The Middle East Trip Report: Kilimanjaro Rongai Route, Tanzania

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1. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 11y

Attempted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro using the Rongai route. I was doing a six day climb (5 up, 2 down with the summit day being both an up and down day). Unfortunately, on the start of the fourth day it was obvious that I was not well – it looked like I was developing pulmonary edema. I had a gurgling sound when I was breathing, was coughing constantly, was dizzy, had lost my appetite and was very, very tired. The head guide of my group decided it was best that I be taken off the mountain.

Due to my bad condition, they wanted to take me down my stretcher. However, because the mountain rescue team only works on the Marangu route, I would have to walk from Mawenzi Tarn camp to the saddle. Even with the help of two guides, it took me almost 6 hours to make it from Mawenzi Tarn to the Marangu route. The mountain rescue team, who loaded me on a stretcher and took me all the way to the gate, soon met us. There an ambulance met up with us, and I was taken to Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Clinic in Moshi. Got checked out, a shot and a prescription for Dex and released.

I was completely back to normal strength within two days, with no lingering effects.

The rest of the group I was with all made it to Gillman’s point, and 8 of the 10 made it to Uhuru Peak.

Overall, my guides were excellent, both in assessing the situation and helping me down the mountain. The mountain rescue team was excellent in getting me off the mountain, even if the stretcher was not very comfortable. The $20 paid in park fees for the mountain rescue crew was well worth it to me!

The climb was booked through Africa Travel Resource (www.africatravelresource.com), locally using The African Walking Company as the local guides. The climb was more expensive than others I saw, but I do feel that the quality of guides was above that of some of the other groups I saw climbing the mountain.

The food was decent and filling, though the higher we got the less variety that we got in our diet.

The hotel accommodations at the Kibo Hotel in Marangu before and after I have no complaints about. I have often read that the Kibo Hotel is a “faded glory,” but the beds were comfortable, the showers had hot water, the rooms were clean and the beer in the bar was cold.

The Rongai route itself was not a difficult hike. There was only one section, close to the lava chute cave, where we had to use our hands to scramble up some rocks. Otherwise, the climb was mainly a slow, slow walk. The path is not as well developed as the Marangu route, but I think it adds to the appeal to have a more rugged (though entirely walkable) path. Rongai does not provide cabins at all, thus tents are the only way to go. Washroom facilities are ugly – many of the group ended up using a shovel instead of going into the squat toilets at the campsites.

The worst part of the trip was the 3 hour car ride from Marangu to the trail head of the Rongai route. The road is rough and dusty. Our car dropped a shock on the way to the trail head.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Greg

2. Posted by areinstein (Travel Guru 2788 posts) 11y

Hey Greg...I had been looking for this post for awhile now. Of course for some reason the last place I looked was the Africa forum, duh!

Anyway, I was planning on doing this next year. The highest I have ever hiked is 16,000 in the mountains of Peru. I am trying to picture how much more difficult 3,000 extra feet would be. I have few questions:

1) I work out consistenly but should I focus on a specific type of training for this hike?

2) I have only checked out Mountain Sobek, a 16 trip there is about $5000 (including park entrance and the hike). How much was yours, if you dont mind me asking, and what did you get with that? I am trying to see the Kenya National Park and also do the hike. I will probably go for a 16 day vacation in 2006.

3) When is the best time to go? How is the weather?

4) In Peru, the tents were provided, as well as porters to carry the heavy load...do you have to bring your own in this hike?

I will probably have more questions as you respond these ones. But this should be a good start for me. I certainly hope I dont have be brought down on a strecher. By the way, why didnt they give Dex in the mountain instead of waiting until they brought you down? Can you get your own before heading up?

PS I smoke by not heavily (one or two a day)...it is strange but I do speed skating (w/ rollerblades), I run and bike without a problem. I can outrun any of my friends that do not smoke at all but hiking 19K may be a totally different story especially since I've never done it before. Do you think my smoking may become a problem for the hike? I actually smoked more when I did the Inka Trail...

3. Posted by achnab (Budding Member 28 posts) 11y

Hi
I can answer a few of these :-)

(A) Step-stairs and a good addtion to normal training, many people experience pain in the front of the leg muscles and in the thighs.
(2)Way way too much the avarage price just now is circa $800 for a six day hike, in 2006 there is a chance that KINAPA the park authorities may increase the price for Kilimanjaro to (gasp) $100 pp per day entrance fees ! tour operators are fighting it but it looks to go through.......this would bring the avarage price up to circa $1500 pp for a six day climb.
(3)The dryest months are : Jan-Feb-July-Aug-Sep, the rainly months "should" be, long rains:March to mid June & short rains Oct to begin of Dec.
(4) All equipment is provided by the company including porters.
(5) There is a rumour that smokers have a advantage because they are more used to less oxygen...............:-)

4. Posted by areinstein (Travel Guru 2788 posts) 11y

Thanks achnab! Do you have Circa's website or phone number so I can get information from them? Does it have to be booked ahead of time or can I do it when I get there?

5. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 11y

Acnab provides good info. Circa isn't a company, it means around. Average price is around $800.

I went with a company called Africa Travel Resouce (website included in post above) based out of the UK, who used local operator The African Walking Company. They were a little more expensive than other trips, but I went with them because I like their philosphy, felt very comfortable with them and liked all the great information on their website.

I paid $1,300 US for the 6 day climb up the Rongai route (includes guides, porters, food, tents), 3 days in the Kibo hotel (bed and breakfast) and transfer to and from Kilimanjaro airport / Arusha.

As for equipment, you will need to bring a sleeping bag, camping mattress, winter jacket, walking poles and all your personal items. Whichever company you book with should be able to provide you the details on what specifically you need to bring. Many items can also be purchased or rented when in Africa if you don't want to lug them all the way across the Atlantic.

While I was there, I also did a safari, though I arranged that locally while I was there. I did a 5 day camping safari (trip report here including pricing).

Greg

6. Posted by areinstein (Travel Guru 2788 posts) 11y

More good info...thanks for the other post. So you pretty much think I should be able to get by with $2000 (US dollars) plus however much my ticket would cost to get there?
I can also assume that I can book a safari while I am there as well? This all sounds very exciting, I think I may start planning this for 2006...and my training as well.

7. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 11y

Excluding airfare, I spent $3000 for three weeks, so presumably $2000 for two weeks should be enough.

8. Posted by areinstein (Travel Guru 2788 posts) 11y

Quoting GregW

Excluding airfare, I spent $3000 for three weeks, so presumably $2000 for two weeks should be enough.

Hey, that is a lot better than $5000!!! It did sound on the expensive side but it sounds like it will be more feasible now. Bottom line, I should just book the hike ahead of time and take care of the rest while I am there?

9. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 11y

That's what I did. Though for the safari, I paid $450 and a couple who booked ahead of time paid $500, which is a savings but not a truly significant one. It took me a day in Arusha to find a safari, so it might be worth contacting a company and booking ahead of time.

For best savings, don't book with a tour operator located outside of Tanzania. You can go to the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators to find a list of operators in the country, and contact them directly.

Greg

10. Posted by areinstein (Travel Guru 2788 posts) 11y

Quoting GregW

That's what I did. Though for the safari, I paid $450 and a couple who booked ahead of time paid $500, which is a savings but not a truly significant one. It took me a day in Arusha to find a safari, so it might be worth contacting a company and booking ahead of time.

For best savings, don't book with a tour operator located outside of Tanzania. You can go to the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators to find a list of operators in the country, and contact them directly.

Greg

Thanks Greg!! I got a lot more info today than I have in the last few months. Isnt this website great?