The Umbwe route is a short, steep and direct route. It is considered to be very difficult and is the most challenging way up Mount Kilimanjaro. Due to the quick ascent, Umbwe does not provide the necessary stages for altitude acclimatization.
Umbwe Gate to Umbwe CampElevation: 5,249 ft to 9,514 ft, Distance: 11 km/7 miles, Hiking Time: 5-7 hours, Habitat: Heath
We depart from Arusha to Machame Gate where registration formalities will be completed. We then transfer through villages you can also see 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.
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 Arusha.