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Mount Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route

Umbwe route is commonly regarded as the hardest trail, a tough vertical slog through jungle, in places using tree roots as makeshift rungs on a ladder.

The route is offered at a minimum of 6 days, though due to the quick ascent, the 7 days program provides the necessary stages for altitude acclimatisation. 

While the traffic on this route is very low, the chances of success are also low.

 

  • Considered the most challenging route up the summit
  • Short, steep, and direct route
  • Approaches from the south of the mountain
  • Only advised for highly experienced trekkers
  • Cons: Quick ascent with very low acclimatization and very low success rates
  • Trek length: 6 to 7 days

OUR PROGRAM

Day 1: Umbwe Gate to Umbwe Camp

After breakfast, the day begins with a 50-minute drive from Moshi to Machame Gate where registration formalities will be completed. We then transfer through villages, coffee, and banana plantations to Umbwe Gate. The trail ascends sharply on a forestry track which winds up the dense rainforest. The path narrows and steepens as we climb the ridge between two rivers surrounded by huge trees. Umbwe Camp is perched between trees and thick undergrowth.

Umbwe Gate to Umbwe Camp
Elevation: 1,600m /5,249ft to 2,900m/9,514ft
Distance: 11km/8miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Zone: Heath

Day 2: Umbwe Camp to Barranco Camp

The second day of the trek follows rockier terrain with sparse undergrowth, straggly, and moss-covered trees. As we gain elevation, glimpses of Kilimanjaro can be seen. The path flattens as we approach Barranco Valley. From Umbwe ridge, the route descends to Barranco Camp through the strange but beautiful Senecio Forest.

Umbwe Camp to Barranco Camp
Elevation: 2,900m/9,514ft to 3,976m/13,044ft
Distance: 6km/4miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Zone: Heath

Day 3: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp

We begin the day by descending into a ravine to the base of the Great Barranco Wall. Then we climb the non-technical but steep, nearly 274m/900ft cliff. From the top of the Barranco Wall we cross a series of hills and valleys until we descend sharply into Karanga Valley. One more steep climb up leads us to Karanga Camp. This is a shorter day meant for acclimatization.

Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
Elevation: 3,976m/13,044ft to 3,995m/13,106ft
Distance: 5km/3miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Zone: Alpine Desert

Day 4: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp

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

Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
Elevation: 3,995m/13,106ft to 4,673m/15,331ft
Distance: 4km/2miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Zone: Alpine Desert

Day 5: Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak

Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. Near Stella Point (5,761m/18,900 ft), you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak
Elevation: 15,331 ft to 19,341 ft
Distance: 5 km
Hiking Time: 6-8 hours
Zone: Arctic

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp

From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp
Elevation: 5,895m/19,341ft to 3,068m/10,065ft
Distance: 12km/7miles
Hiking Time: 4-8 hours
Zone: Rainforest

Day 6: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate

On our last day, we continue the descent to Mweka Gate and collect the 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 us at Mweka Village to drive us back to the hotel in Moshi.

Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
Elevation: 3,068m/10,065ft to 1,640m/5,380ft
Distance: 10km/6miles
Hiking Time: 3-6 hours
Habitat: Rainforest

Congratulations!

OUR PROGRAM

Day 1: Umbwe Gate to Umbwe Camp

After breakfast, the day begins with a 50-minute drive from Moshi to Machame Gate where registration formalities will be completed. We then transfer through villages, coffee, and banana plantations to Umbwe Gate. The trail ascends sharply on a forestry track which winds up the dense rainforest. The path narrows and steepens as we climb the ridge between two rivers surrounded by huge trees. Umbwe Camp is perched between trees and thick undergrowth.

Umbwe Gate to Umbwe Camp
Elevation: 1,600m /5,249ft to 2,900m/9,514ft
Distance: 11km/8miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Zone: Heath

Day 2: Umbwe Camp to Barranco Camp

The second day of the trek follows rockier terrain with sparse undergrowth, straggly, and moss-covered trees. As we gain elevation, glimpses of Kilimanjaro can be seen. The path flattens as we approach Barranco Valley. From Umbwe ridge, the route descends to Barranco Camp through the strange but beautiful Senecio Forest.

Umbwe Camp to Barranco Camp
Elevation: 2,900m/9,514ft to 3,976m/13,044ft
Distance: 6km/4miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Zone: Heath

Day 3: Barranco Camp

We will spend an extra day here for acclimatization. Adding this day will ease your effort and amplify your acclimatization as well as increase the success to summit.

Day 4: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp

We begin the day by descending into a ravine to the base of the Great Barranco Wall. Then we climb the non-technical but steep, nearly 274m/900ft cliff. From the top of the Barranco Wall we cross a series of hills and valleys until we descend sharply into Karanga Valley. One more steep climb up leads us to Karanga Camp. This is a shorter day meant for acclimatization.

Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
Elevation: 3,976m/13,044ft to 3,995m/13,106ft
Distance: 5km/3miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Zone: Alpine Desert

Day 5: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp

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

Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
Elevation: 3,995m/13,106ft to 4,673m/15,331ft
Distance: 4km/2miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Zone: Alpine Desert

Day 6: Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak

Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. Near Stella Point (5,761m/18,900 ft), you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak
Elevation: 15,331 ft to 19,341 ft
Distance: 5 km
Hiking Time: 6-8 hours
Zone: Arctic

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp

From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp
Elevation: 5,895m/19,341ft to 3,068m/10,065ft
Distance: 12km/7miles
Hiking Time: 4-8 hours
Zone: Rainforest

Day 7: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate

On our last day, we continue the descent to Mweka Gate and collect the 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 us at Mweka Village to drive us back to the hotel in Moshi.

Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
Elevation: 3,068m/10,065ft to 1,640m/5,380ft
Distance: 10km/6miles
Hiking Time: 3-6 hours
Habitat: Rainforest

Congratulations!

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