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Mt Kilimanjaro - Umbwe Route

7 Days/6 Nights

The Umbwe route is one of the shortest routes to the Southern Glaciers and the Western Breach. It is probably the most scenic, non-technical route on Kilimanjaro. It is quite taxing, primarily due to the relatively fast ascent to higher altitude, but the rewards are plentiful. Very steep route best suited to experienced trekkers and is generally better to be enjoyed on the descent by inexperienced trekkers on the Machame or Mweka routes.

The Umbwe route is the hardest and most challenging routes on Mt Kilimanjaro. It also has the highest incidence of altitude sickness and the lowest summit success rate. The steepness and difficulty of ascent on the first two days are what leads to this poor acclimatization. After the second day the route joins the Machame route at Barranco camp and follows the rest of the Machame route up to the summit. Descent is via the Mweka route.


Budget Standard Luxury Campsite Permanent Campsite Lodge Hotel

Safari Highlights

  • Steep, short route with lower summit success rate.
  • Poor acclimatization due to rapid ascent.
  • Steep trek, ideal for climbers already acclimatized by climbs up Mt Meru or Mt Kenya
  • Very remote and quiet for the first 2 days
  • Great scenery
  • Fully catered camping.
  • Requires experience and ability to acclimatize quickly.
  • Emergency evacuation service (Fly Doctor - Air Ambulance 24hrs)

Safari at a Glance

1Arrival in Moshi
2Umbwe Gate (1800m) to First Camp (2940m)Umbwe Cave Camp
3First Camp (2940m) to Barranco Camp (3950m)Barranco Camp
4Barranco Camp (3950m) to Karanga Camp (3950m)Karanga Camp
5Karanga Camp (3900m) to Barafu Camp (4600m)Barafu Camp
6Barafu Camp (4600m) to Summit (5895m) to Mweka Hut (3100m)Mweka Camp
7Mweka Camp (3100m) to Mweka Gate (1980m)
The Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Moshi

Meals: None

Day 2: Umbwe Gate (1800m) to First Camp (2940m)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Distance: 11km, Time: 6 hours, Habitat: Montane Forest.

We will register at Umbwe Park Gate before starting our trek. The small winding path leads us up through rainforest and along the Umbwe river. The first night’s camp is at Umbwe Cave Camp, at about 2,900m altitude.

Day 3: First Camp (2940m) to Barranco Camp (3950m)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Distance: 6km, Time: 4-5 hours, Habitat: Montane Forest. 

We leave camp and shortly afterwards the forests ends. We can see the sheer wall of the Western Breach appearing and disappearing as the afternoon mists roll up the Great Barranco. We will camp at Barranco camp tonight.

Day 4: Barranco Camp (3950m) to Karanga Camp (3950m)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Distance: 7 km, Hiking Time: 4 hours, Habitat: Alpine Desert.

Today starts with a short, but fun, scramble, to the top of the Great Barranco Wall. We then traverse over scree to the Karanga Valley (3930m) beneath the icefalls of the Heim, Kersten and Decken Glaciers. We will stay overnight at Karanga campsite.

Day 5: Karanga Camp (3900m) to Barafu Camp (4600m)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Distance: 6kms, Hiking Time: 3 hours, Habitat: Alpine Desert.

We leave Karanga campsite behind to meet the junction connecting with the Mweka descent Trail. From here we continue up to the Barafu Hut. You have now completed the Southern Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. At camp, we can rest, enjoy dinner, and prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are to be clearly seen from this position.

Day 6: Barafu Camp (4600m) to Summit (5895m) to Mweka Hut (3100m)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Distance: 7km ascent / 23km descent , Time:6- 8 hours ascent / 7-8 hours descent, Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit.

You will be woken at 23:30 with some quick tea and biscuits. We start our trek to the summit between the Rebman and Ratzel glaciers. We will head in a north-westerly direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. This is the most mentally and physically challenging part of the trek. At Stella Point (5732m), we will stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see (weather permitting). At Uhuru Peak (5895m), we will have reached the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa. It can be very cold at night at these elevations, but it will be quite warm by the end of the hiking day. From the summit, we descend down to the Mweka Hut camp site, via Barafu for lunch. Trekking poles will be needed for the loose gravel going down to Mweka Camp (3100m). Later in the evening, we will enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

Day 7: Mweka Camp (3100m) to Mweka Gate (1980m)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Distance: 8 km, Time: 3-4 hours, Habitat: Montane Forest.

We depart after breakfast descending down to the Mweka Park Gate to receive your summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will be suitable (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy).

What's Included?

  • Communications equipment – radio contact between Base Station and guides, mobile phones
  • Safety – first aid kits for all climbers
  • Head guide, three porters per client and a cook. NB Luggage is restricted to 15 kg per person
  • Equipment – special mountain tents on a two-per-tent basis, mess tents for mealtimes, thermal sleeping mats, kerosene lamps, all cooking and eating utensils and gas for cooking
  • Food – carefully-planned menu for maximum energy nutrition (sample menus & special dietary requirements on request) and water.
  • Crew and equipments transfer to & from Mountain base
  • Available emergency evacuation service (Flying Doctor – Air Ambulance 24Hrs)

What's Not Included?

  • All park fees $60 per day , camp and hut fees $50 per night, rescue fees $20 for entire trekking. ( All government fees will be paid by client direct at the gate)
  • Transfers – Airport transfer to hotel, transfers from Arusha to the Kilimanjaro trailhead on the morning of the climb and return to Arusha immediately after descent. Gratuities to guides and porters – see our Tipping Guidelines
  • Accommodation expenses
  • Items of a personal nature/use – all supplies must be brought in advance (a limited supply is available at Marangu gate)
  • Medical equipments can be hired on request. Eg. Hyperbaric chamber, oxygen cylinder, stretcher.
  • Water – boiled water can be provided on request; mineral water is available throughout the climb at each camp but bear in mind that the price rises steadily with altitude
  • Personal insurance
  • Services before and after the climb, including accommodation. These can be quoted separately on request.