Umbwe Route – 6 days/5 nights
Short and steep, the Umbwe route is considered the most challenging route on the mountain. Traffic on this route is very low, which might make it an attractive route to climbers. However, due to its quick ascent up Mt. Kilimanjaro it has one of the lower success rates for reaching the summit. We therefore only recommend this route to experienced hikers who are confident in their ability to acclimatize. Climbs on this route usually take six days.
DAY 1: UMBWE GATE (1,400M/4,600FT) TO UMBWE CAVE CAMP (3,000M/9,800FT)
Elevation Gain: 1,600 metres / 5,200 feet
Hiking Time: 5 to 6 hours
After breakfast, you’ll get picked up from your hostel/hotel in Moshi and driven to the starting point at Umbwe Gate (approximately 1 hour). After registration, you will begin your journey to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro using a well-maintained trail through Montane Forest. On the way, you’ll walk through dense rainforest and coffee plantations as your guide talks you through some of the local flora and fauna. Here you will also get a very good chance of witnessing Black and White Colobus monkeys, as well as many different species of brightly-colored birds. The climb is steady and gradual incline to Umbwe Camp.
DAY 2: UMBWE CAVE CAMP (3,000M/9,800FT) TO BARRANCO CAMP (3,850M/12,650FT)
Elevation Gain: 800 metres / 2,850 feet
Hiking Time: 4 to 5 hours
The route now takes you into semi-desert and rocky landscapes. You may even have occasional glimpses of Kibo, the imposing summit cone of Kilimanjaro. You may find this trek a little tougher than the previous days as some hikers usually start to experience symptoms of altitude sickness. Closer to camp the trail begins to flatten out finally descending into Barranco Camp, which lies below the imposing Barranco Wall in a beautiful, sheltered valley.
DAY 3: BARRANCO CAMP (3,850M/12,650FT) TO KARANGA CAMP (3,995M/13,106FT)
Elevation Gain: 145 meters / 456 feet
Hiking Time: Approximately 4 to 5 hours
Habitat: Alpine desert
This will be a short day of hiking to allow for acclimatization. After breakfast, you will begin to ascend the Barranco Wall and hike glacial valleys – but don’t worry, it is easier than it looks! From the top of the wall, you will then cross a series of hills and valleys before descending into Karanga Valley. After one more steep climb, you’ll reach Karanga Camp where you will relax for the afternoon before dinner and an overnight rest.
DAY 4: KARANGA CAMP (3,995M /13,106FT) TO BARAFU CAMP (4,600M /15,100FT)
Elevation Gain: 605 metres / 1,994 feet
Hiking Time: Approximately 3 to 4 hours
Habitat: Alpine desert
After breakfast, you will leave Karanga and hit the junction which connects to the famous Mweka Trail. You will then continue along the rocky ridge for 1 to 2 hours before reaching Barafu Camp, which offers stunning views of Mt. Kilimanjaro’s summit from various angles. Your tents will be pitched along a narrow and rocky ridge with high winds. It’s therefore worth taking some time to familiarize yourself with your surroundings before it gets dark. Rest for the night at Barafu Camp and prepare for the upcoming hike to the summit.
DAY 5 : BARAFU CAMP (4,600M/15,100FT) TO UHURU PEAK (5,895M/19,300FT) THEN DESCENDING TO MWEKA CAMP (3,110M/10,200FT)
Elevation Gain: 1,295 metres / 4,200 feet
Elevation Loss: 2,785 metres / 9,100 feet
Hiking time: 6 to 7 hours to Uhuru Peak; 7 to 8 hours to Mweka Camp
Habitat: Arctic conditions
This is where the going gets really tough! Just before midnight, you will venture into the night and begin your final ascent to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. Head northwest through the heavy stone scree following multiple switchbacks between Ratzel and Rebmann glaciers until you reach Stella Point (5,685m). This section is probably the most challenging part of the route and will require great physical and mental effort. Continue to move slowly, always listening to your guide.
After a short rest at Stella Point, you will hike along the crater rim for another hour before reaching your ultimate goal – Uhuru Peak! Congratulations! You have now made it to the “Roof of Africa”.
Weather conditions on the summit will determine how long you will be able to spend there, but it is important to start your descent within good time to ensure you get enough rest back at Barafu Camp. After your rest, you’ll gather the rest of your belongings and descend to Mweka Hut (3,100m) where you’ll enjoy dinner and a well-earned sleep!
DAY 6: MWEKA HUT (3,100M) TO MWEKA GATE (1,980M)
Elevation Loss: 1,280 metres / 4,220 feet Hiking time: Approximately 3 to 4 hours Habitat: Rainforest After eating breakfast, you will begin the easiest part of your adventure on Mount Kilimanjaro via scenic path through the forest to Mweka Gate. Successful hikers who made it to Stella Point and Uhuru Peak will be awarded their certificates at the gate. Then it’s time to drive back to your hotel to enjoy a shower, dinner and celebrations with a Kilimanjaro beer!