Mount Kilimanjaro - Umbwe Route


About this route

The Umbwe Route is the most spectacular, direct and therefore the most demanding route. This route is short, steep and does not provide the necessary stages for acclimatization.

It is only recommended for strong, acclimatized hikers.

  • very high difficulty
  • very good scenery
  • very low traffic
  • poor success rate

Umbwe Route

Duration: 6 days

Starts from: Arusha or Moshi

Ends at: Arusha or Moshi

Accommodation: Camping

Price: from 2000 USD per person

The route day-to-day

(click on the day to expand)

Day 1: Umbwe Gate (1640 m) to Cave Camp (2930 m)

Hiking time: 4-6 h / Distance: 8 km / Ascent: 1200 m

An early start, followed by breakfast and transfer to Umbwe Village. Start your ascent at Umbwe Gate and travel by vehicle for approx. an hour to the steep Umbwe Trail. After registering at the Gate, you will meet your guide and mountain team. You will climb for several hours through dense forest, sometimes up steep areas of rock and roots along a trail. Umbwe Camp is located in a forested area next to some caves caves.

On arrival in Camp you will be shown your tent and given some warm water for a cat wash. After changing into some dry, comfortable clothes you can wait in the mess tent until dinner is ready.

Accommodation: Umbwe Camp. (-/L/D)

Day 2: Cave Camp (2930 m) to Barranco Camp (3960 m)

Hiking time: 4-6 h / Distance: 6 km / Ascent: 1100 m

There are a couple of surprises awaiting you on this second day. The first is the fact that your guide will already be setting a deliberately slow pace in order to help you acclimatize. The second is that, whilst your campsite last night seemed to be in the heart of the deep, dark forest, it’s not long on this second day before the forest starts thinning out and you enter into the heath and moorland zone, with fantastic views down to the valleys on both sides.

Some of Kilimanjaro’s most famous plants, including the weird senecios and lobelias, now decorate the trail as we continue our climb, with gorgeous views all around including, for the first time, the Kibo summit itself.

Continuing up the southern slopes, you may find it surprising that the path, for virtually the first time on the entire trek, actually drops for a few minutes as it winds its way round to the Barranco Camp – many people’s favourite on the entire mountain. The camp is situated in a picturesque valley full of tree groundsels (Senecio Kilimanjari) and lobelia (Lobelia deckenii) formed by a landslide below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall, which should provide you with a memorable sunset while you wait for the preparation of your dinner.

Accommodation: Barranco Camp. (B/L/D)

Day 3: Barranco Camp (3960 m) to Karanga Camp (4035 m)

Hiking time: 3-4 h / Distance: 6 km / Ascent: 250 m / Descent: 250 m

After spending a night next to the Great Barranco Wall (a very imposing sight at first), you make your way up this impressive-looking obstacle which, in the end, normally turns out easier than what you anticipated. Arriving at a viewpoint just below Heim Glacier, you now appreciate just how beautiful Kilimanjaro really is.

The track then heads down through a valley and over intervening ridges before descending steeply into the Karanga Valley where a steep ascent trail winds its way up towards Karanga Camp where a hearty lunch awaits you.

Accommodation: Karanga Camp. (B/L/D)

Day 4: Karanga Camp (4035 m) to Barafu Camp (4640 m)

Hiking time: 3-4 h / Distance: 4 km / Ascent: 605 m

After breakfast, you will slowly hike your way up to a ridge before crossing a small valley. The last trudge up to the Barafu Camp is a steep one. Arrive at Barafu Camp for a hot lunch. The last water stop on this route is the Karanga Valley, as there is no water at Barafu camp. Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice” and it is a bleak and inhospitable camping area to spend the night. Totally exposed to the ever-present gales the tents are pitched on a narrow, stony, and dangerous ridge.

Make sure that you familiarise yourself with the terrain before dark to avoid any accidents. The summit is now a further 1255 m up and you will make the final ascent the same night. Prepare your equipment, walking poles and thermal clothing for your summit attempt. 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 at round about 19:00 and try to get some precious rest and sleep.

Accommodation: Barafu Camp. (B/L/D)

Day 5: Barafu Camp (4640 m) to Uhuru Peak (5895 m) and down to Mweka Camp (3080 m)

Hiking time: 6-7 h to reach Uhuru Peak, 5-7 h to descend to Mweka Camp / Distance: 29 km / Ascent: 1295 m / Descent: 3045 m

You will rise around 23:30, and after some tea and biscuits you shuffle off into the night. You will head in a north-westerly direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. For many climbers, this 5-6 hour walk to Stella Point is mentally and physically the most challenging on the route. At Stella Point (5740 m) you will stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see (weather permitting). From Stella Point it is approx. another hour ascent to Uhuru Peak. The time you will spend on the summit will depend on the weather conditions. Do not stop here for too long as it will be extremely difficult to start again due to cold and fatigue. 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 before you collect the rest of your gear and depart for Mweka Camp. The route is not difficult and after the first 1.5 hours, a welcomed break can be enjoyed at the Millennium Camp before continuing down a rocky path through a heather and moor landscape dotted with proteas (Protea Kilimandscharica). Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. It is often a muddy, damp and cold camp but, after a cat wash with warm water and a hearty dinner, you are most likely to be too exhausted to care.

Accommodation: Mweka Camp. (-/Brunch/D)

Day 6: Mweka Camp (3080 m) to Mweka Gate (16300 m)

Hiking time: 3-4 h / Distance: 10 km / Descent: 1050 m

After an early and well-deserved breakfast, it is a short 3-hour scenic hike through the rainforest back to the Park gate. 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 (5740 m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895 m) receive gold certificates. Transfer back to your accommodation.


Requirements on Kilimanjaro

Persons attempting the climb must be physically very fit and in very good general health. You need surefootedness, trekking experience, good physical shape for the hiking stages lasting several hours, team spirit and acceptance to staying in simple accommodations.


Please note

Campsites and toilet facilities on the mountain are very basic and water for personal hygiene on the mountain is limited. Clients climb at their own risk. It is at the guide’s discretion to break off a climb in case weather conditions or clients health dictate it for safety reasons.

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