The Umbwe route is the most physically taxing and least used up Mount Kilimanjaro. On the first two days you will have a steep uphill climb almost the whole way and breath-taking views off the ridges, all without the clutter of other climbers – sweet reward for the physical demands on your legs that the route makes. You eventually join trails with those coming from the Machame route and Lemosho route, and carry on up the Great Barranco Wall to Karanga Valley and Barafu Camp before your summit push to Uhuru Peak in the wee hours of the morning of your 5th day on the mountain.
Your final summit bid will most likely be very early in the morning, when you battle the effects of altitude, lack of appetite, and a strenuous 4,000' climb to the summit of Uhuru Peak. Very worthwhile, and be ready for a long, descent from the summit (10,000' down at least). There are two possible camps on the descent, which are very busy due to the only descent route (Mellenium, and Mwenka).
Our standard Umbwe Route itinerary is 7 nights (6 trekking days, 8 days total).
As all our departures are private, we can be quite flexible and on request, we can adapt the itinerary and make it shorter or longer to suit your preferences and stamina.
The Umbwe Route is considered to be the most challenging way to climb Kilimanjaro as it is short, steep and direct.
Due to the quick ascent, Umbwe does not provide the necessary stages for altitude acclimatization, and that is why it is suitable for very experienced hikers.
While success rates are lower compared to the other routes, it offers a challenging but rewarding trek away from the crowds.
Pick up at Kilimanjaro international airport, met with your guide and drive to your hotel in Arusha, where you overnight before the trek begins.
After breakfast, you will be driven to the Machame gate where registration formalities will be completed. From the Machame gate, you will be transferred to the Umbwe Gate (1641 m), passing through villages surrounded by coffee and banana plantations. The air is thick with moisture, and the path is usually muddy. The route initially follows a forestry track winding up through the natural rain forest. It then narrows and steepens to climb the ridge between the Lonzo and Umbwe rivers, with huge trees surrounding you. The path offers some spectacular views of deep gorges and, if you are lucky, glimpses of Kilimanjaro towering above you in the distance. The camp is perched between huge trees and thick undergrowth. Enjoy dinner and overnight at the Umbwe Cave Camp.
Shortly after leaving the camp the forest starts thinning and is replaced by rockier terrain, sparser undergrowth and straggly, moss-covered trees. The path continues along a narrow, but spectacular ridge. As you gain higher altitude, catch glimpses of Kilimanjaro rising majestically ahead of you – etched against the blue sky. The path flattens as you approach Barranco Valley. From the Umbwe ridge, the route descends slightly to the Barranco camp. The camp is situated in the valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall, which should provide you with a memorable sunset while your dinner is prepared.
After spending a night at the Great Barranco Wall (a very imposing sight), you make your way up this awesome looking obstacle, which in the end normally turns out to be easier than anticipated. Topping out just below the Heim Glacier, you will now appreciate just how beautiful Kilimanjaro really is. The route then heads down through the Karanga Valley over intervening ridges and valleys and then joins up with the Mweka route. This is the preferred route down from the summit. The last water stop on the route is the Karanga Valley, as there is no water available at Barafu camp. Enjoy dinner and overnight at the Karanga camp.
Breakfast at Karanga camp and after breakfast turn left up the ridge and the route ascends 640 m towards Barafu Camp. Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice”. Totally exposed to the ever-present gales, the tents are pitched on a narrow, stony, and dangerous ridge. Make sure that you familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark to avoid any accidents. You will commence with your final ascent attempt, the same night, so prepare your equipment, hiking poles and thermal clothing. This should include the replacement of your headlamp and camera batteries and make sure you have a spare set available as well. To prevent freezing it will be wise to carry your water in a thermal flask. Go to bed as early as possible and try to get some precious rest and sleep.
You will get up at around 23:30 h, and after some tea and biscuits, you shuffle off into the night. You will head in a north-western direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. For many climbers, the 6-hour walk to Stella point is mentally and physically the most challenging on the route. At Stella Point (5739 m) you will stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise (weather permitting). From Stella Point, you will normally encounter snow all the way on your 2-hour ascent to Uhuru Peak.
The time you will spend on the summit will depend on the weather conditions. Enjoy your accomplishment and a day to remember for the rest of your life! The walk back to Barafu from the summit takes about 3 hours. Here you will have a well-earned but short rest and collect the rest of your gear, before heading down to Mweka hut (3100 m). The route is not difficult and will take you down the rock and scree path into the moorland and eventually into the forest. The camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Dinner and washing water will be prepared for you.
After an early and well-deserved breakfast, it is a short and scenic hike back to the park gate. Some hikers do experience knee problems which could make the descent longer than planned. It is strongly recommended not to pay your porters any tips until you and all your gear have reached the gate safely. At Mweka Gate, you sign your name and details in a register. This is also where successful climbers receive their summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Stella Point (5739 m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895 m) receive gold certificates. From the Mweka Gate, you will continue down into the Mweka village, normally a muddy 3 km/1-hour hike. In the Mweka village, you will meet your driver for a ride back to Arusha.
After an early breakfast, transfer to Kilimanjaro Airport and departure.
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