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6-Day Mount Kilimanjaro Trek via Umbwe Route


Umbwe route is used to be the steepest, shortest, and most direct route to Uhuru Peak. Traditionally the route utilized the Western Breach and and Arrow’s Glacier path to the summit; however, due to a tragic rock fall in 2006 that claimed the lives of three trakkers the approach via the Western Breach was closed. It re-opened in December 2007 but due to its difficulty and safety risks, most travel operators do not offer this route as an option.

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.

Traffic for the first two days on the Umbwe Route is low but picks up as soon as trekkers join Machame Route trekkers at Baranco Camp.

The itinerary set out below is for a six day Umbwe Route;

Day 1: Umbwe gate (1,600 m) – Umbwe Cave Camp (2,850 m)

Distance = 10.5 km; trekking time = 5-7 hours, Zone = rain forest.

The Umbwe Route departs from the south. Most trekkers get driven from Arusha to Machame gate where registration takes place.  From there trackers are transferred to Umbwe gate (1,600 m) where you will start trekking, accompanied by your guides and porters. The route follows a foresty track through the rainforest before steeping between the Lonzo and Umbwe Rovers. If the weather is clear you will have a good view of Kibo peak in the distance.

The first camp, Umbwe Cave Camp, sits between large evergreen trees and thick undergrowth, with Umbwe Cave a short walk away. On arrival to your tent(s) will already be assembled and dinner will be served in your mess tent.

Day 2: Umbwe Cave Camp – Barranco Camp (3,900 m)

Distance = 06.5 km; trekking time = 4-6 hours, Zone = rain forest/low Alpine Zone.

On day two the landscape changes rapidly from rainforest to moorland, with rocky outcrops and sparse vegetation. The path follows the narrow Umbwe Route ridge until it begins to flatten close to the Barrango Valley.

The Barranco Camp (3,900 m) sits in the valley under the shadow of the Great Barranco Wall with Kibo visible in the distance. You will notice the camp is pretty busy. This is because you will be joining hickers from Machame, Lemosho and Shira rooutes.

Day 3: Barranco Camp – Karanga Camp (3,960 m)

Distance = 06 km; trekking time = 4-6 hours, Zone = Low alpine / high alpine Zone

Day three starts with a steep climp up the 257 meter Barranco Wall. No technical skills are required but you will need to use all your four limbs to scramble up to the top.

From here you will follow an up and down route along the Southern Circuit through the Karanga Valley and up to Karanga Camp (3,960 m).

You will stop at Karanga Camp for the night, unless you are on  a few day itinerary where you will continue on to Barafu Camp.

Day 4: Karanga Camp – Barafu Camp (4,670 m)

Distance = 3.5 km; trekking time = 4-5 hours, Zone = high alpine zone.

Day four is a relatively short trek from Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp at 4,670 meters. The route sojourns through rocky and sparsely vegetated high alpine desert zone. Barafu is very exposed to the elements, especially the gale force winds that are common at this altitude.

You will arrive at the camp around lunchtime, giving you lots of time to rest or potentially climb a bit higher if you are feeling up to it.

Many people have lost their appetite by this stage in the trek but it is important that you try to eat some food. Set an hour aside to ensure that your gear is ready and parked for the summit ascent which begins around midnight.

Don’t forget to carry additional batteries for your headlamp and camera, and remember to make sure that your water bottles are wall insulated (whrapping them in an extra pair of warm socks works well). Try to get to bed before 19h0 as you will be awaken around 23h30 to begin your summit attempt.

Day 5: Barafu Camp – Uhuru Peak (5,895 m ) – Mweka Camp(3,100 m)

Distance = 4.5 km ascent and then 11 km descent; trekking time = 6 – to the summit and then 5 – 8 hours to Mweka, Zone = glacial zone then preceding zones.

After being awaken with hot tea and biscuits you will set off up on the heavily screed slopes of Kibo. The route up to the crater rim long arduous! Your physical and mental capacity will be seriously tested. It is important to remain focused on your goal, one step at a time. Around dawn you will reach Stella Point (5,739 m) at the top of the crater rim.

This is not a summit but it is a major milestone. Take a moment to rest and enjoy the summit. From Stella Point the route flattens as you walk an additional 1 -2 hours to Uhuru Peak (5,895 m). You will not be able to stay too long at the summit as the lack of oxygen and cold is debilitating.

Make sure to get all the pictures and video footage you want and then make your way to Stella Point. Many trekkers decided to scree slide down the slopes of Kibo to Barafu Camp. Remember to use your trekking poles as the impact on your knees of the 5 – 8 hours ascent from the summit to Meka Camp can be very tiring and painful.

Day 6: Mweka Camp (3,100 m) – Mweka Gate (1,640 m)

Distance = 8 km; trekking time = 3 – 5 hours, Zone = rain forest

By the morning of the sixth day you should have your appetite back and can enjoy your last breakfast on the mountain before heading down through the thick undergrowth of the lower slopes. Your knees me be sore so go slowly and make sure of each footing as you descend to Mweka Gate.

On arrival at the gate you will sign out with the authorities and be presented with your summit certificate.

Booking Form

    Included in the price:

    • Transfers (pick up from the airport to the hotel during your arrival, and transfer to the airport during your departure).
    • Accommodations before and after the trek (FB).
    • Park entrance/Camping fees.
    • Transfers from base hotel to the park entrance gate and come back.
    • Food; 3 meals per day, breakfast, lunch and dinner (All meals are hot).
    • Water for drinking.
    • Professional and Experience Mountain Guide who have qualified in wilderness (ratio 3 clients for 2 guides).
    • First aid responder (WFR).
    • Water proof tents.
    • Oxygen tank.
    • Good number of porters.
    • Cook.
    • Pulse oxymeter, stetescope.
    • Hot water every day for washing.
    • Salaries to the Guides, cooks and porters

    Excluded from the price: Tips and all personal items.