MOUNT KILIMANJARO

Umbwe Route to the Roof of Africa

Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route

The Umbwe route is one of the shortest but steepest routes to the Southern Glaciers, affording one views of the forests, valleys, magnificent vegetation and glaciers. However, it is only recommended for very fit climbers as you gain altitude very quickly over a shorter distance. Unfortunately, while the traditional route followed up through arrow glacier, this route is now very precarious and dangerous to traverse. It is for this reason that we do not offer this route to summit.


KILIMANJARO UMBWE OVERVIEW

Day-1: Arrive

Day-2: Umbwe Gate (1800m) - Bivouac (first) camp (2940m)

Day-3: Bivouac (first) camp (2940m) - Barranco camp (3950m)

Day-4: Acclimatization Day

Day-5: Baranco to Barafu Camp (4550m)

Day-6: Barafu - Uhuru Peak (5895m) - Mweka Camp (3100m)

Day-7: Mweka camp (3100m)- Mweka Gate (1980m)

Day-8: Depart

 

UMBWE DETAILED ITINERARY

Day-1: Arrive

Arrive Kilimanjaro International Airport and transfer to hotel. Overnight hotel.


Day-2: Umbwe Gate (1800m) - Bivouac (first) camp (2940m)

Elevation: 1800 metres to 2940 metres
Distance: 8 kilometres
Trek time: 5 hours
Environment: Montane Forest
After breakfast you will be driven to the Umbwe Gate at 1800m, passing through villages with banana and coffee plantations. On arrival at the Parks Gate your guide and porters will meet you. You will have to sign the register before you enter the park. As you head into the forest, temperature scan rise to about 35 degrees C, but as you quickly rise in altitude, they will progressively drop, by about 1 degree for each 200m climbed. The paths can also be quite muddy. The route initially follows a forestry track winding up through the natural rain forest. It then narrows and becomes steeper as you 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, glimpses of Kilimanjaro towering above you in the distance. The camp is perched between huge trees and thick undergrowth.


Day-3: Bivouac (first) camp (2940m) - Barranco (3950m)

Elevation: 2940 metres to 3950 metres

Distance: 6 kilometres
Trek time: 6 hours
Environment: Heath land
Shortly after leaving the camp the forest starts thinning and is replaced by rockier terrain, sparser undergrowth and straggly, moss-covered trees. The path continues along a narrow, but spectacular ridge and as it ascends through the heath, the ridge narrows and sharpens quite quickly. As you gain higher altitude, you will note how quickly the various vegetation zones change. Sighting of Lammergeyer are quite common. The path flattens as you approach Barranco Valley . From the Umbwe ridge the route descends slightly to the Barranco camp. The camp is situated in the valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall, which should provide you with a memorable sunset.


Day-4: Acclimatization Day

This day will be spent at Barranco camp to aid with acclimatization. You can spend the day walking around to explore the surrounding areas such as up to the Barranco wall, take in sights of the magnificent Scenecio's, or just rest.


Day-5: Barranco (3950m) to Barafu (4550m)

Elevation: 3950metres up to 4550 metres
Distance: 13 kilometres
Trek time: About 7 hours

After breakfast you will begin the scramble up the Great Baranco Wall and then begin the traverse over the scree towards the Karanga Valley at 4000m. It is here that you will get the incredible views of the Heim, Kersten and Decken glaciers. After leaving the Karanga Valley , you will continue along the trail to Barafu Hut. You will now find yourself completely in the alpine desert of crushed stone and scree. The campsite is very cold and gets buffeted by the wind.

Barafu is the Swahili word for "ice". The summit is a further 1345m up. It is this ascent that you will tackle in the early hours of the next morning. That night, it is important to prepare your gear, lay out your clothing etc for your summit attempt. It is also highly advisable to sleep with your water bottles to prevent them from freezing up overnight. Ensure that your headlamp had a new battery and that you have spare camera batteries if necessary. You will head for bed around 18h30.


Day-6: Barafu camp (4550m) - Uhuru Peak (5895m) - Mweka (3100m):

Elevation: 4600 metres to 3100 metres
Highest point: 5895 metres (Uhuru Peak)
Distance: 30 kilometres (7 kilometres ascent, 13 kilometres descent)
Trek duration: 13 to 16 hours (6 - 8 hours ascent, 7 - 8 hours descent)
Environment: Stone scree / ice-capped summit You will wake around 23h00 and after a cup of tea and a biscuit, shuffle off into the night for the summit of Kilimanjaro. The route heads up between the Rebmann and Ratzel Glaciers towards

Stella Point

and then on to

Kilimanjaro Uhuru Peak

where you will enjoy the magnificent views and a well deserve photo opportunity.


You will then descend back down to Barafu camp from the summit, which takes about 3 hours. The route is not difficult and will take you down the rock and scree path into the moorland and eventually into the forest. Mweka camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Dinner, and washing water will be provided as well as drinking water.


Day-7: Mweka camp (3100m)- Mweka Gate (1980m)

After an early breakfast, it is a short 3-hour scenic hike back through a beautiful forest to the Mweka gate. At Mweka gate you will have to sign your name and details in a register in order to receive you summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Stella Point (5685m) 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 meet up with your team and bus, and head back to the hotel a long over due hot shower.


Day-8: Depart

After breakfast, transfer to Kilimanjaro airport for your departure flight home.


End of services

 

Umbwe Route Variations

9 days Alternate 10 days

Day-1: Arrive

Day-2: Umbwe Gate (1800m) - Bivouac (first) camp (2940m)

Day-3: Bivouac (first) camp (2940m) - Barranco camp (3950m)

Day-4: Barranco - Karanga Camp (4040m)

Day-6: Karanga to Barafu Camp (4550m)

Day-7: Barafu - Uhuru Peak (5895m) - Mweka Camp (3100m)

Day-8: Mweka camp (3100m)- Mweka Gate (1980m)

Day-9: Depart

 

Day-1: Arrive

Day-2: Umbwe Gate (1800m) - Bivouac (first) camp (2940m)

Day-3: Bivouac (first) camp (2940m) - Barranco camp (3950m)

Day-4: Acclimatization Day

Day-5: Barranco - Karanga Camp (4040m)

Day-6: Karanga to Barafu Camp (4550m)

Day-7:Baranco to Barafu Camp (4550m)

Day-8: Barafu - Uhuru Peak (5895m) - Mweka Camp (3100m)

Day-9: Mweka camp (3100m)- Mweka Gate (1980m)

Day-10: Depart

 

Your Questions Answered

The Umbwe route is the toughest and steepest route on Kilimanjaro and only recommended for those who are used to rapid altitude ascent climbs. There are sections with steeper drops so also not recommended to people with a fear of heights. Due to its rapid ascent acclimatisation chances are lower. It is for these reasons that we suggest that you add on an acclimatization day.
Umbwe route is the quietest route on the mountain and very seldom used because of its difficulty and steep ascent.  
Kilimanjaro Umbwe route is approximately 75 km/46.6 miles from gate to gate.
There are two distinct trekking seasons during which is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro. They are January-March and June-October. January-March is generally colder than June-October and there is a higher probability of encountering snow on the summit. However, because the southern side of the mountain gets a lot more rain and the route is steep, it is best avoided in the rainy season.
Kilimanjaro is just three degrees south of the equator, so the lower slopes are generally hot and dry reaching 25°C during the day. This quickly dips with each ecological zone however, open heath lands, alpine desert and then, at the summit, categorically Arctic. Temperatures at Uhuru Peak are between -7 to -29°C.
Every night stop has an area with drop/toilet facilities, that are designated areas to allow for camping. You will sleep in tents. The camp areas are a lot more quiet with more rudimentary toilet structures than on other routes until you join the route at Barranco.
This is a popular question. The toilets that are available on the mountain are pretty rudimentary unless you are on Marangu, and are really just a wooden or block building with a hole in the ground (or a 'long drop'). One option though it adds to the cost is to hire a portable toilet. Finally, although there may not be toilet facilities when you really need them during the days trek, we ask that you seek out a 'loo with a view' away from the path, and keep your used paper in a small bag to dispose of later at camp so as to preserve the environment.
Altitude sickness, also called mountain sickness, is a group of general symptoms that are brought on by climbing or walking to a higher and higher altitude (elevation) too quickly. High altitude is defined as 8,000 - 12,000 feet (2400 - 2600m) above sea level. Altitude sickness can affect anyone who goes to high altitudes without giving the body time to adjust to the changes in air pressure and oxygen level. Symptoms usually come on within 12 to 24 hours of reaching a higher elevation and then get better within 24 to 48 hours as your body adjusts to the change in altitude. Because Kilimanjaro has a rapid ascent profile, altitude sickness tends to be more common than on some other treks. It is for this reason that taking your time is vitally important and why shorter routes have a lower success rate. Because Umbwe is a rapid ascent to high elevations the risk of altitude sickness is high, unless you have pre-acclimatised on a another trek like Mt Meru
Month 2019 2020 2021
January - 10 28
February - 9 27
March - 9 28
April - 8 27
May - 7 26
June - 5 24
July 17 5 24
August 15 3 22
September 14 2 21
October 14 1, 31 20
November 12 30 19
December 12 30 19

Very definitely yes. Porters and guides are the life blood of any successful mountain climb. Through our partners in Tanzania we support various charity initiatives including the most important Kilimanjaro Porters Society. This society was registered under the name Mount Kilimanjaro Porters Society on 30th September 2005 as a non governmental organization with a certificate no 13296 under the organization art of the United Republic of Tanzania. The society exists as a shield for porters who are registered under it with the goal of improving the living and working condition of these porters.

Umbwe Route at a Glance