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Umbwe Route

umbwe route

The Umbwe route has a well-deserved reputation of being the most challenging route on Mount Kilimanjaro. Approaching from the south, the Umbwe route is a short, steep and direct climb. After reaching Barranco Camp, the trail follows the southern circuit to the summit. The descent is done via the Mweka route.

Umbwe is considered to be very difficult, taxing route - one that should only be attempted by strong hikers who are also confident of their ability to acclimatize to altitude.

Umbwe Route map

Due to the fast ascent to high altitude, this route does not provide the necessary stages for acclimatization. Although the traffic on this route is very low, the chances of success are also low.

The route is offered at a minimum of six days, and seven days is preferred when attempting to climb using Umbwe. The seven day itinerary includes a rest day at Barranco Camp. However, overall, the Umbwe route is not recommended.

Umbwe Route Map 3d

Umbwe is offered as a six to seven day private climb.


6 Day Umbwe Route Itinerary

DAY 1
Umbwe Gate to Umbwe Camp
Elevation (ft): 5,249 ft to 9,514 ft
Distance: 11 km
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

Upon arriving at the Umbwe Gate, we complete the registration paperwork and prepare the expedition gear. The trek beings up a gradual inclining 4WD path, which ends with a sign marked “Umbwe Trail.”  From here we ascend through a dense forest on a steep and sometimes muddy path until we reach Umbwe Camp.

DAY 2
Umbwe Camp to Barranco Camp
Elevation (ft): 9,514 ft to 13,044 ft
Distance: 6 km
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Heath

The trek begins steep as we ascend higher into the heath zone.  Here landscape changes rapidly to sparse vegetation, rocky outcrops and giant heathers.  The trail leads up a narrow ridge then flattens as it nears Barranco Valley, which offers great views of Kibo Peak and Moshi.  Once at camp there will be some extra time to explore the area.

DAY 3
Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
Elevation (ft): 13,044 ft to 13,106 ft
Distance: 5 km
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Our first challenge is a climb and scramble over the volcanic rock of the 1,200 ft Barranco Wall. On reaching the top, we have a well earned lunch break and enjoy fantastic views of Barafu and Mount Meru. We continue across the ridges and valleys to the Karanga Valley campsite. This is a short day meant for acclimatization.

DAY 4
Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
Elevation (ft): 13,106 ft to 15,331 ft
Distance: 4 km
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

After breakfast, we leave Karanga and hit the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. We continue up to Barafu Hut. At this point, we have completed the Southern Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here we make camp, rest, enjoy an early dinner, and prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are visible from this site.

DAY 5
Barafu Camp to Uhuru Point to Mweka Hut
Elevation (ft): 15,331 ft to 19,341 ft to 10,065 ft
Distance: 17 km
Hiking Time: 11-14 hours
Habitat: Arctic

Very early in the morning (midnight), we put on many layers of clothing and begin our climb to the summit. We head in a northwesterly direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. At Stella Point (18,600 ft), we stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see. From Stella Point, we have just one more hour before reaching the summit. At Uhuru Peak, you have reached the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa. Faster hikers will see the sunrise from the summit. From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

DAY 6
Mweka Camp to Moshi
Elevation (ft): 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft
Distance: 10 km
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

After breakfast, we continue the descent down to the Mweka Park Gate to receive your summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. From the gate, we continue another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet you at Mweka village to drive you back to hotel in Moshi.

Umbwe Route profile

6 Day Umbwe ItineraryUmbwe itinerary

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