Talest mountain via umbwe is the most spectacular and direct way to reach Uhuru Peak. This route became famous when it was featured in the dramatic IMAX film Kilimanjaro – To the Roof of Africa. On the Umbwe, you pass through strange landscapes as you climb through five climate zones ranging from rainforest to the summit’s glaciers. Umbwe route has a well-deserved reputation of being the most challenging route on Mount Kilimanjaro. Approaching from the south, the Umbwe route is a short, steep and direct climb.

The Umbwe Route used to be the steepest, shortest and most direct route to Uhuru Peak. Traditionally the route utilised the steep Western Breach and Arrow’s Glacier path to the summit; however, due to a tragic rock-fall in 2006 that claimed the lives of three trekkers the approach via the Western Breach was closed. Instead the Umbwe Route now joins the Machame Route on the evening of the second day, following the southern circuit to the summit and descending via the Mweka Route.

Umbwe route six day

Talest mountain via Umbwe route has a reputation for being the most challenging route on Kilimanjaro. And rightly so. It’s the shortest and steepest of the Kilimanjaro routes, and accordingly has a poor acclimatisation profile. For this reason its summit success rate is low and its one of the least used trails on the mountain. The Umbwe approaches the summit from the south and camping is the only available accommodation option. Pre-acclimatisation is recommended for those who choose to trek this route.​

The Umbwe route is our least favourite of the Kilimanjaro climb routes. Given its steep ascent, it doesn’t offer much time to acclimatise and so has a low summit success rate. In our view, other Kilimanjaro routes such as the Lemosho route are much better choices. We recommend this route only be attempted by strong hikers who are confident in their ability to acclimate quickly to high altitude.

1

Moshi to Umbwe Gate to Umbwe Camp 8 km, 5-7 hours Montane Forest

Umbwe Gate to Umbwe Camp
Elevation: 5,249 ft to 9,514 ft
Distance: 11 km/7 miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Habitat: Heath

The day begins with a 50 minute drive to Machame Gate where registration formalities will be completed. We then transfer through villages and coffee and banana plantations to Umbwe Gate. The trail ascends sharply on a forestry track which winds up the dense rain forest. The path narrows and steepens as we climb the ridge between two rivers surrounded by huge trees. Umbwe Camp is perched between trees and thick undergrowth.

2

Umbwe Camp to Barranco Camp

Elevation: 9,514 ft to 13,044 ft
Distance: 6 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Heath

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.

3

Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp

Elevation: 13,044 ft to 13,106 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

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.

4

Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp

Elevation: 13,106 ft to 15,331 ft
Distance: 4 km/2 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We leave Karanga and hit the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. We continue up to the rocky section to Barafu Hut. At this point, you have completed the Southern Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here we make camp, rest and enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are viewable from this position.

5

Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak

Elevation: 15,331 ft to 19,341 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 7-8 hours
Habitat: Arctic

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp
Elevation: 19,341 ft to 10,065 ft
Distance: 12 km/7 miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest
Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. Near Stella Point (18,900 ft), you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

6

Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate

Elevation: 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft
Distance: 10 km/6 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

On our last day, we continue the descent to Mweka Gate and collect the summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. From the gate, we continue another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet us at Mweka Village to drive us back to the hotel in Moshi.

umbwe route

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