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. Major reason that Umbwe route considered to be very difficult is its steepness in the first two days and its shrt time of acclimatization. This route is attempted by strong hikers who are also confident of their ability to acclimatize to altitude.
You will be picked up at the Kilimanjaro International Airport and transferred to your hotel in Moshi town. You will meet your guide who will brief you on your upcoming trek and do an equipment check to make sure you have all the necessary mountain gear. The missing gear can be rented on this day.
At 8am leave Moshi for Umbwe Gate where you will meet our porters, guides, and cooks who will spend the next six days trekking with you to Uhuru Peak, the roof of Africa. After arriving, wait at the gate while we register your climb and the porters and guides make final preparations. Your first day’s destination is Cave Bivouac Camp, approximately 6 hours from the gate. The trail is steep and can be slippery in some places.
Hike through the moss-covered trees of Kilimanjaro’s cloud forest. The forest will thin later in the hike and heathers, tall grasses and wildflowers will come into view. Porters and cooks will walk ahead to set up the camp in time for your arrival.
The first section of the trail continues following the ridge. After leaving the forest, continue through open moorlands until reaching Barranco Camp. Barranco is generally regarded as the most scenic campsite on the Umbwe Trail as it’s surrounded by giant senecios and lobelias. As Barranco is in a valley, the sun rises later than at the other camps.
Leave Barranco Camp after breakfast for Karanga Valley. The day begins with a 1.5 hour scramble up the Barranco Wall. This is the hardest part of the day and in some places you may have to use your hands to aid your climb. After reaching the top, hike through fairly level terrain before making a short but steep descent into the green Karanga River Valley.
After breakfast, begin the hike to Barafu Camp. On the way to Barafu, view several of Kibo’s glaciers as well as the junction that connects the descent route, Mweka, with the Machame trail. During day four, hike by the Heim, Kersten and Decken Glaciers. Although the trail to Barafu passes through alpine desert with little vegetation, Barafu Camp offers stunning views of Kibo and Mawenzi peaks. Try to sleep after finishing dinner as you will wake before midnight for your summit hike.
Around midnight, begin the final ascent to Uhuru Peak. Hike by the light of your headlamp for the next six hours. The ascent to the crater rim is the most challenging part of the entire trek. The trail is very steep until you reach the crater rim at Stella Point.
The hike from Stella Point to Uhuru Peak is a gradual climb and, as far as hikes go, not very difficult. The altitude, however, makes the hike long and tiring. The crater rim hike takes approximately one hour. Upon reaching Uhuru, take photos of your guide and group at the peak before beginning the descent to Mweka Camp. On the way down from Uhuru, enjoy views of the mountain, crater, clouds and glaciers.
At Barafu Camp, eat breakfast and take a short break. You still have another three to five hours to go before reaching Mweka Camp.
After breakfast, finish the trek with a hike through the forest to Mweka Gate. The trail may be slippery following rain. Our vehicles will meet you at the lower station of Mweka Gate to take you back to Moshi.