The Umbwe route has a reputation of being the shortest, fastest, least crowded but the most challenging route on Mt Kilimanjaro. The quick gain of elevation of this route does not provide the necessary stages for acclimatization, minimizing the chances of summit-reach success rate. It is a reserve for the strongest hikers who have confidence 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. The descent is made via the Mweka route. The route takes a minimum of six days to complete, although seven days is recommended. The descent is down through Mweka, on the south-east side of the mountain. Umbwe is not as scenically varied as Machame, Lemosho and Shira, because the accent route and descent route are closeby.
Umbwe route is incredibly beautiful of the lush rainforest as you make your way towards the Umbwe Caves. Giant tree ferns flourish underneath massive tropical trees covered with Oldman’s Beard (usnea lichen) and pretty flowers including a variety of lilies and hibiscus. Colobus and Blue Monkeys may often be seen jumping between tree branches with an abundance of birdlife in the trees above. The Umbwe route is a challenging route, though the shortest in the distance of the available routes on Kilimanjaro, it is the steepest and ascends.
After a steep ascent on the first two days, the trail leads you up to a picturesque alpine desert where the harsh terrain ensures that only the toughest of plants survive. From here the summit beckons – permanently iced she tempts you to reach the highest point in Africa – Uhuru peak. A magnificent feeling.
Day 1: Nairobi – Moshi
We pick you from your hotel to join a shuttle to Moshi via Namanga and Arusha. Lunch will be served en route, reaching Moshi town at 16:00hrs. Check-in at our hotel for overnight. We will gather in the evening at 18:00hrs for a pre-climb briefing and an equipment check, confirmation of your appropriate mandatory medical coverage and travel insurance.
Day 2: Umbwe Gate to Umbwe Cave 3,000m (6-8hrs walking)
The climb starts from Umbwe Gate (1,800 m.) The path follows a ridge between two deep valleys up through the dense montane forest. Umbwe camp is perched between huge trees and thick undergrowth. There is no water available at this campsite, so we must carry from the gate all the water needed for drinking, food preparation and cleaning.
Day 3: Umbwe Cave to Barranco 3,950m (4-6hrs walking)
The path gets steeper on this section, as you get out of the forest along the Umbwe ridge the route descends slightly to the Barranco camp situated in the valley.
Day 4: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp 4,000m (4-5hrs walking)
A steep climb up the eastern wall leads us just below the Heim Glacier, where we may have some spectacular views of Kilimanjaro. We then take a steep exit up the Great Barranco Wall, which divides us from the southeastern slopes of Kibo, the trail continues down into the alpine desert of the Karanga Valley, finally, we have a steep climb up to Karanga Camp
Day 5: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp 4,600m (3-4hrs walking)
A steep climb out of Karanga, and an easy path on compacted scree with wide views through this empty and dry landscape up to Barafu Camp. The peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi can be seen from Barafu camp as hot lunch is served. The remainder of the day is spent resting as we prepare for the final ascent before an early night summit walk.
Day 6: Barafu Camp to Summit to Mweka Camp (13-15hrs walking)
Wake up before midnight in the cover of darkness, we begin a steep climb over loose volcanic scree that has some well-graded zig-zags and a slow but steady pace will take us to the rim of the main crater, Stella Point, at 5,735m. We will rest there for a few minutes to enjoy the sunrise over Mawenzi. Those who are still feeling good can continue slowly to make the two hour round trip from here along the crater rim to the main peak (Uhuru 5,895 m), which is the highest point in Africa. After a few minutes to appreciate your accomplishment we descend to Barafu which is amazingly fast, and we stop at Barafu Camp for some refreshment, we continue to descend to reach Mweka Camp.
Day 7: Descent – Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate to Arusha (3-5hrs walking)
A gentle walk takes us down through the rainforest to Mweka gate successful climbers will receive their summit certificates. After lunch, we drive back to Moshi for overnight.
Day 8: Departure day
After early breakfast, we board the shuttle to Nairobi. We have an option to join other safari options.