Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Safaris

Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Umbwe Route 7-Days

Kilimanjaro’s Umbwe Route is a steep, spectacular, and direct route to Uhuru Peak.  The recommended duration for this trip is 7 days.  However, if you are confident in your body’s ability to acclimatize, Elite Kilimanjaro also offers an 

Umbwe Route a 7-day trek.

Umbwe Route Description

Unlike the Machame that wraps around the southwest and south sides of Kilimanjaro, the Umbwe Route takes you directly through all 5 climate zones on your way to Uhuru.  It is steeper and sometimes slightly exposed and because of this, the route is less traveled.  If you are fit and used to walking through mountainous terrain, this route is suitable for you.  Like the Machame, you will ascend up one route and return down another.  Unlike the huts of the Marangu Route, you will sleep in tents, which will be transported by your porters.  Meals are served in a dinner tent or on a blanket outside (weather permitting).

Umbwe Route 7-Day Itinerary

Tanzania Arrival

You will be greeted by our friendly transfer staff who will take you from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) to your hotel in Moshi (3,000 ft/915m) where you will spend the night and prepare your gear.

Day 1:  Umbwe Gate (5,905 ft/1,800 m) to Umbwe Camp (9,190 ft/2,800 m) 8km, 5-7 hours

Following an early breakfast, you will have a briefing from your guide.  At 9 am, our staff will take you on the hour-long drive from your hotel in Moshi to the Umbwe Village where your guides and porters will prepare your equipment and supplies.  Kilimanjaro Park registration will be completed here and you will also receive your lunch pack.  After registration, you will begin your ascent from the Umbwe Gate and continue on a small vehicle path until you reach the signage notifying you have reached the Umbwe Trail.  You will then climb for 5-6 hours through dense rainforest.  It is impossible to miss the giant fig trees and rubber trees as in some places, their roots have overtaken the path.  Although, sometimes slippery themselves, they can make for good footholds when the path becomes sloppy with mud after a rain.  Umbwe Camp is inside the forest and will your first stop.  When you arrive, you will find your camp and tent is already set up by the porters who ran ahead.  They will bring you boiled drinking water and washing water in preparation for dinner.

Day 2:  Umbwe Camp (9,190 ft/2,800 m) to Barranco Camp (12,800 ft/3,900 m) 8km, 4-5 hours

Rise early for coffee or tea.  After breakfast, pack up for the day’s trek.  Your trek will begin steeply through the disappearing rainforest glades before ascending into drier air of Giant Erica and Heathland terrain where the vegetation is sparse with small shrubs.  You will continue on an exposed ridge that offers you with your first view of Uhuru Peak if the clouds have parted enough.  After lunch, you begin to enter into the semi-desert terrain when you trek through a garden of Senecio plants.  These odd looking groundsels resemble something like a pre-historic cactus.  Once you reach Barranco Camp, your porters will boil drinking and washing water before serving dinner.  While you wait for your dinner, you will have a chance to experience one of the most memorable sunsets you have ever seen as the sun drops through the valley.  Pay attention to your body and keep your guide informed of any signs of altitude sickness.

Day 3:  Barranco Camp Acclimatization

You will spend Day 3 exploring near Barranco Camp for much-needed acclimatization.  Keep your camera handy to capture the scenery of the groundsel-clad campsite.  Many trekkers rank this as their favorite camp on this trail, which another reason this is perfect spot for your acclimatization day.  If you are highly confident in your body’s ability to acclimatize well, you can choose the 6-Day Umbwe Itinerary.

Day 4:  Barranco Camp (12,960 ft/3,950m) to Karanga Camp (13,780 ft/4,200m) 7 km, 4 hours

After sleeping below the Great Barranco Wall, you get your chance to tackle this hurdle.  Don’t worry…It’s much easier than it looks.  Continue up until you reach just below the Heim Glacier.  Then head down through the Karanga Valley.  This is the last place for your porters to gather water.  They will collect all the water for the remainder of the ascent here.  You will settle in here at the Karanga Camp.  After lunch, you can spend the afternoon doing light exploring or resting while taking in the views of Mawenzi’s towering spires.

Day 5:  Karanga Camp (13,780 ft/4,200m) to Barafu Camp (14,930 ft/4,550m) 5 km, 3-4 hours

After breakfast, you’ll head east, crossing over multiple ridges and valleys until you join up with the Mweka Route and turn left to continue up the ridge for an hour to reach the Barafu Hut.  You will arrive at camp to find your tent pitched on a rocky ridge with high winds.  Be sure to familiarize yourself with the camp before dark to be safe.  Also, have your headlamp/flashlight handy if you need to leave the tent after dark.  You will prepare your equipment (replace batteries for headlamp and camera) before you go to bed by 7 PM and try to catch a few hours of shuteye before your summit attempt!

Day 6:  SUMMIT DAY!  Barafu Camp (14,930 ft/4,550m) to Uhuru Peak (19,340 ft/5,895 m) to Mweka Camp (10,170 ft/3,100 m) 7 km up and 22 km down, 8 hours up, 9-10 hours down

Wake at 11:30 PM for tea or coffee and biscuits and then depart Barafu on your bid for the peak.  You will climb 6 hours through thick scree following multiple switchbacks between the Ratzel and Rebmann glaciers until you reach Stella Point (18,650 ft/5,685 m).  You have just completed what most climbers consider to be the most challenging part of their trek.  Depending on your pace to this point, you may get the chance to enjoy the majestic sunrise during your short rest here.  Although you will be fatigued, it is important to keep moving due to the extreme cold.  At Stella Point, you have joined up with the last bit of the Marangu Route.  You will hike along the rim for another 1-2 hours until you reach your ultimate goal of Uhuru Peak.  Congratulations, you are now standing on the Roof of Africa!  You will have time to take pictures with the world-famous Uhuru Peak sign, but it is important to begin your descent soon in order to allow yourself enough time to rest at the Barafu Camp.  After a 3-hour descent down sliding scree, you will reach Barafu to have a short rest while you collect your gear and then continue down the path back into the forest camp of Mweka.  You might experience a little rain in the afternoon, so be sure to have your rain gear in your daypack.  Enjoy some dinner and some well-deserved sleep.  At Mweka Camp, the office sells bottled water, soft drinks, candy bars, and beer.

Day 7:  Mweka Camp (10,170 ft/3,100 m) to Mweka Gate (6,500 ft/1,980 m) 10 km, 3-4 hours

Wake up for breakfast as usual, pack, and descend through a short, scenic, 3-hour hike to Mweka Gate.  Wait until you and all of your gear has reached the gate before you tip your staff.  After registering at the gate, you will wait to receive your summit certificates (green for those who reached Stella Point and gold for those who reach Uhuru Peak).  From the gate, if the road is too muddy for vehicles, you will continue your hike for 1 hour to the Mweka Village, 3km away.  There you will enjoy a hot lunch before being driven back to Moshi where you can have your first hot shower in days!