Umbwe Route is the hardest trail as it is a tough steep ascent through jungle, in places using the trees to help the ascent. It also has the highest incidence of altitude sickness and the lowest summit success rate.
The steepness and difficulty of ascent on the first two days are what leads to this poor success rate
Having reached the Southern Circular Route at the end of the second day near Barranco the route follows the Machame route round to Barafu and approaches the summit from there. The climb up and down can be done five days but this is too short for acclimatization and we only offer it as a 6-day private climb
Although it is steep and arduous Umbwe is not a technical climb, just very demanding on the legs and with no ups and downs, the acclimatization is not good at all. The only real attractions of this route are that the first two days are very quiet, not many want to take it on, and the scenery for the first two days is spectacular
Hiking time: 5 hours | Habitat: Montane forest
After breakfast you will be driven to the Umbwe Gate at 1800m, passing through villages with coffee and banana plantations. On arrival at the Parks Gate your guide and porters will meet you. Sign the register before you enter the park for your first step to accomplishing a life-long dream.
The air is thick with moisture and the path is usually muddy. The route initially follows a forestry track winding up through the natural rain forest. It then narrows and steepens to 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.
Hiking time: 6 hours | Habitat: Montane forest & Moorlands
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. As you gain higher altitude, catch glimpses of Kilimanjaro rising majestically ahead of you – etched against the blue sky.
Habitat: Moorland/Semi desert
After breakfast you will start your hike towards Lava Tower, a famous landmark on Kilimanjaro. The path is steep and rocky, with views of Mt. Meru, Kilimanjaro’s little sister, punching her peak through the clouds.
From Lava Tower you turn towards the Western Breach, a steep climb to Arrow Glacier camp (4800m).
Hiking time: 5 hours | Distance: About 15 km’s | Habitat: Semi desert/ Snowfields
From the Arrow Glacier camp steep scree and rocky outcrops requiring a scramble lead up the Western Breach to the crater floor (5700m). This day will be the toughest challenge by far. After snowfalls the route can become icy and in these conditions an ice axe or ski stick may be required.
Hiking time: 2 hours to reach Uhuru Peak | 7/8 hours to descend to Mweka | Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit
You will rise around 04:00, and after some tea and biscuits you shuffle off into the early morning darkness. From the crater floor, you will probably encounter snow all the way on your 2-hour ascent to Uhuru Peak.
Time spent on the summit will depend on the weather conditions. Do not stop here for too long, as it will be extremely difficult to start again due to cold and fatigue.
Hiking time: 3 hours | Distance: About 15 km’s | Habitat: Forest
After an early and well-deserved breakfast, it is a 5-hour, scenic hike back to the Park gate. At Mweka gate you sign your name and details in a register. This is also where successful climbers receive their summit certificates.