6 Days Umbwe Route
Mount Kilimanjaro’s Umbwe route is the most physically demanding and least traveled route. On the first two days, you’ll enjoy a sharp upward climb practically the entire way and breath-taking vistas off the hills, all without the crowds — a wonderful treat for the route’s physical demands on your legs. You finally connect paths from the Machame and Lemosho routes and continue up the Great Barranco Wall to Karanga Valley and Barafu Camp before your summit push to Uhuru Peak in the early morning hours of your fifth day on the mountain.
Your last summit attempt will most likely be very early in the morning, when you will be fighting the affects of altitude, a lack of food, and a difficult 4,000′ climb to the summit of Uhuru Peak. It’s well worth it, but be prepared for a long drop from the peak (at least 10,000 feet). Due to the sole downhill path, there are two possible campgrounds on the descent, both of which are quite crowded (Mellenium, and Mwenka).
Day by Day Itinerary
Umbwe Gate (1614m) – Umbwe Cave camp (2850m)
After breakfast, you will be driven to the Machame gate where registration formalities will be completed. From there, we proceed to the Umbwe Gate (1641m), passing through villages with coffee and banana plantations. The air is thick with moisture and the path is usually muddy. The route initially follows a forestry track winding up through the natural rain forest. It then narrows and steepens to climb the ridge between the Lonzo and Umbwe rivers, with huge trees surrounding you. The path offers some spectacular views of deep gorges and if you are lucky, glimpse of Kilimanjaro towering above you in the distance. The camp is perched between huge trees and thick undergrowth.
Accommodation: Umbwe Cave Camp
Umbwe Cave camp (2850m) – Barranco camp (3985m)
The second day of the trek follows rockier terrain with sparse undergrowth and straggly, moss-covered trees. As we gain elevation, glimpses of Kilimanjaro can be seen. The path flattens as we approach Barranco Valley. From Umbwe ridge, the route descends to Barranco Camp through the strange but beautiful Senecio Forest.
Barranco camp (3985m) – Karanga Camp (4040m)
We begin the day by descending into a ravine to the base of the Great Barranco Wall. Then we climb the non-technical but steep, nearly 900 ft cliff. From the top of the Barranco Wall we cross a series of hills and valleys until we descend sharply into Karanga Valley. One more steep climb up leads us to Karanga Camp. This is a shorter day meant for acclimatization.
Karanga camp (4040m) – Barafu camp (4681m)
Breakfast at Karanga camp and after breakfast turn left up the ridge and the route ascends 640 m towards Barafu Camp. Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice”. Totally exposed to the ever-present gales, the tents are pitched on a narrow, stony, and dangerous ridge. Make sure that you familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark to avoid any accidents. You will commence with your final ascent attempt, the same night, so prepare your equipment, hiking poles and thermal clothing. This should include the replacement of your headlamp and camera batteries and make sure you have a spare set available as well. To prevent freezing it will be wise to carry your water in a thermal flask. Go to bed as early as possible and try to get some precious rest and sleep
Summit Attempt- Mweka
You will get up at around 23:30 h, and after some tea and biscuits, you shuffle off into the night. You will head in a north-western direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. For many climbers, the 6-hour walk to Stella point is mentally and physically the most challenging on the route. At Stella Point (5739 m) you will stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise (weather permitting). From Stella Point, you will normally encounter snow all the way on your 2-hour ascent to Uhuru Peak.
The time you will spend on the summit will depend on the weather conditions. Enjoy your accomplishment and a day to remember for the rest of your life! The walk back to Barafu from the summit takes about 3 hours. Here you will have a well-earned but short rest and collect the rest of your gear, before heading down to Mweka hut (3100 m). The route is not difficult and will take you down the rock and scree path into the moorland and eventually into the forest. The camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Dinner and washing water will be prepared for you.
Mweka Camp - Mweka Gate - Arusha
Approximately 8.5 km
It will be a short 4 to 6 hour scenic hike back to the Park gate. Some hikers do experience knee problems, which could make the descent longer than planned. At Mweka gate, successful climbers receive their summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Stella Point (5739m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895m) receive gold certificates.
From the Mweka Gate you will continue down into the Mweka village, normally a muddy 3 km (1 hour) hike. In the Mweka village, you will be served a delicious hot lunch. Afterwards, we drive back to Arusha for a long overdue hot shower, dinner and celebration.
- Accommodation as per the itinerary
- Professional Mountain guide
- Professional mountain cook
- Transfer to and from the mountain gate
- All Park entrance fees
- Rescue fees
- Porter’s allowance
- All Meals (as specified in the day-by-day section)
- Drinking water on all days
- International flights (from/to home)
- Additional accommodation before and at the end of the tour
- Personal items (souvenirs, travel insurance, visa fees, etc.)
- Government imposed increase of taxes and/or park fees
- Alcohol drinks
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