The Umbwe Route is the least used, least crowded route on the mountain. For good reason, it is also the most difficult route on the mountain. Umbwe is a steep, constant, straight climb to the top. Approaching from the south, the Umbwe route is a short, steep and direct climb.
Due to the fast ascension 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 Umbwe is ideal best for those who want a challenging climb, and are very confident in their ability trek over consistently steep slopes. Also, Umbwe is for those who are experienced at altitude and thus are confident that the punishing schedule of Umbwe will not impede their ability to adjust to altitude. Umbwe is also for those who want a secluded hike.
The route is offered at a minimum of six days, and seven days is preferred when attempting to climb using Umbwe.
Below is the day by day itinerary for the 6 day Umbwe climb on Mount Kilimanjaro:
At the Park Gate, Your climb starts on a 4-wheel drive track that rises with a constant gradient for the first 2 hours of your climb. The 4-wheel drive track now comes to an end, marked by a sign and an obvious change in the trail, For the majority of today’s climb from here on in you will be climbing not on soil but over tree roots. After lunch, You’re now climbing along a knife-edge ridge with a deep ravine on each side, the one to the right carved by the River Umbwe far below. After 2 hours of climbing you reach Umbwe Cave Camp.
- Umbwe Gate (1614m) – Umbwe Cave camp (2850m)
- Hiking time: 6 Hours
- Distance: Approximately 10.3 km
- Habitat: Forest (Montane)
Today’s climb is of average length but you will be gaining almost 4000ft in altitude as you reach the Barranco Valley, a serious amount considering you climbed a similar height yesterday. Leaving Camp you climb up a short, steep section of the trail before coming to the clear dividing line between forest and heather.
- Umbwe Cave camp (2850m) – Barranco camp (3985m)
- Hiking time: 6 hours
- Distance: Approximately 6.3 km
- Habitat: Moorland
Today’s climb is short and beautiful, a favourite of many who climb the Umbwe route. Today’s main obstacle is the near vertical Barranco Wall. A path zigzags up to the top and while you will need both hands at times, it’s a scramble not a rock climb. From the top of the Barranco Wall Kibo rises in front of you, an amazing sight. From here it’s an hour’s walk to the Karanga Valley.
- Barranco camp (3985m) – Karanga Camp (4040m)
- Hiking time: 6 hours
- Distance: Approximately 6 km
- Habitat: Moorland / Semi desert
Leaving camp the path begins to rise and does so most of the way to Barafu Camp. The landscape is desolate and the Southern Ice fields on the slopes of Kibo to your left add to the surreal surroundings. After a steady climb of 1 hour 30 minutes you enter a long, shallow valley. If you turn north and face Kibo, you are about in line with the summit, Uhuru Peak. A walk of 1 hour 15 minutes followed by a short steep scramble brings you out of the valley. Turning north you begin the last leg to Barafu,
- Karanga camp (4040m) – Barafu camp (4681m)
- Hiking time: 4 hours
- Distance: Approximately 3.4km
- Habitat:Alpine desert
Day 5: summit attempt
You will head in a north-westerly 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 (5739m) you will stop for a short rest. you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see (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!
- Barafu camp (4681m)-Uhuru Peak (5895m)-Mweka (3090m)
- Hiking time: 7 to 8 hours to reach Uhuru Peak, 6 to 8 hours to descend to Mweka Camp
- Distance: Approximately 4.5 km ascent and 10.8 km descent
- Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit
After an early and well-deserved breakfast, it is a short 4 to 6 hour and scenic hike back to the Park gate
- Mweka camp (3090m) – Mweka Gate (1641m)
- Hiking time: 4 to 6 hours
- Habitat: Forest
- Distance: Approximately 8.5 km