Umbwe Route - 7 Days
The Umbwe route has a well-deserved reputation of being the most challenging route on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Due to the fast ascent to high altitude, this route does not provide the necessary stages for acclimatization. Although the number of people on this trail is very low, the chances of success are also low. Umbwe is considered to be very difficult, taxing route – one that should only be attempted by strong hikers who are confident in their ability to acclimatize quickly to altitude. Approaching from the south, the Umbwe route is a short, steep and direct climb. After reaching Barranco Camp, the trail turns east and traverses underneath Kilimanjaro’s Southern Ice Field on a path known as the Southern Circuit before summiting from Barafu. Descent is made via the Mweka route.
Your day starts early with a briefing, followed by breakfast and an hour drive from Moshi to Umbwe Village (1,490 m/4,890 ft) where your guides and porters pack your equipment and supplies, and give you a lunch pack. You start your ascent at the small Umbwe Gate just above the village and follow a gentle winding vehicle track for an hour to a signboard that announces the small steep Umbwe trail. The introduction is over, and you now climb up for several hours through a dense forest of rubber trees and giant fig trees. In places, you must scamper up steep sections of roots and rock. The Umbwe Camp is in the forest, and there are some caves nearby. You will be greeted here with a graciously served hot meal.
Your day starts early with a steaming cup of tea or coffee. After breakfast, you will climb steeply through thinning forest glades to Giant Erica, Heather, and drier air. You continue up a ridge that drops steeply on both sides, and hopefully, the clouds will part to reward you with a view of Uhuru Peak looming overhead. After lunch, you enter a zone of giant groundsels (Senecio Kilimanjari) that seem to guard the heights, and this garden is one of Kilimanjaro’s special treasures.
In the morning, you hike east over intervening ridges and valleys to join the Mweka Route, which will be your descent route. Turn left toward the mountain and hike up the ridge through a sparse landscape for another hour to the Barafu Hut where you will receive a hot lunch. The last water on the route is in the Karanga Valley; there is no water at Barafu Camp, even though Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice.” The famous snows of Kilimanjaro are far above Barafu Camp near the summit of the mountain. Your tent will be pitched on a narrow, stony, wind-swept ridge, so make sure that you familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark to avoid any accidents. Prepare your equipment and warm clothing for your summit climb, and drink a lot of fluids. After an early dinner, go to bed for a few hours of precious sleep.
After breakfast, we continue up a steep ridge to the great Barranco Wall, then you climb this imposing obstacle, which turns out to be easier than it looks. Topping out just below the Heim Glacier, you can now appreciate just how beautiful Kilimanjaro really is. With Kibo’s glaciers soaring overhead, you descend into the lush Karanga Valley to the Karanga Valley campsite. From the camp, you can look east and see the jagged peaks of Mawenzi jutting into the African sky. After a hot lunch in camp, your afternoon is at leisure for resting or exploring. This short day is very important for your acclimatization, since your summit push is about to start.
You will rise around 11:30 PM, and after some steaming tea and biscuits, you shuffle off into the night. Your 6-hour climb northwest up through heavy scree between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers to Stella Point on the crater rim is the most challenging part of the route for most climbers. At Stella Point (5,685 m/18,650 ft) you stop for a short rest and a chance to see a supremely sanguine sunrise. At Stella Point you join the top part of the Marangu Route, but do not stop here too long, as it will be extremely difficult to start again due to cold and fatigue. Depending on the season and recent storms, you may encounter snow on your remaining hike along the rim to Uhuru Peak. On the summit, you can enjoy your accomplishment and know that you are creating a day that you will remember for the rest of your life.
After your 3-hour descent from the summit back to Barafu Camp, you will have a well-earned but short rest, collect your gear, and hike down a rock and scree path into the moorland and eventually into the forest to Mweka Camp (3,100 m/10,170 ft). This camp is in the upper forest, so you can expect mist or rain in the late afternoon. Dinner, and washing water will be prepared, and the camp office sells drinking water, soft drinks, chocolates, and beer!
After a well-deserved breakfast, it is a short, scenic, 3-hour hike back to the park gate. Don’t give your porters any tips until you and all your gear have reached the gate safely, but do remember to tip your staff at the gate. At Mweka Gate, you can sign your name and add details in a register. This is also where successful climbers receive their summit certificates. Climbers who reached Stella Point are issued green certificates and those who reached UhuruPeak receive gold certificates. From the Mweka Gate, you will continue down to the Mweka Village, possibly a muddy, 3 km, 1 hour hike if the road is too muddy for vehicles. In the Mweka Village you will be served a delicious hot lunch after which you are driven back to Moshi for an overdue hot shower and comfortable night in the hotel.
Day 7: Depart Tanzania
Fly out, head to safari or make your way to Zanzibar.
- 2 nights of accommodations at the hotel
- Transport to and from the gate
- Park entry fees
- Private transport to & from Kilimanjaro International Airport to your accommodations in Moshi
- Crater fees
- Camping fees
- Team Kilimanjaro Rescue fees
- 18% VAT on tour fees & services
- 4 season mountain tents (EUREKA, MOUNTAIN HARD WEAR)
- Double layered Sleeping Mats
- Friendly and professional mountain guides, cook and porters
- 3 hot meals daily while on the mountain
- Treated & filtered drinking water throughout the trek
- Hot water for washing
- Fair wages for the mountain crew as is recommended by the Kilimanjaro Association of Tour Operators (KIATO) and the Tanzanian Government
- Government taxes
- Portable oxygen tanks & ox meter
- Emergency first-aid kit