Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route
The Umbwe route has a reputation for being the most challenging route on Kilimanjaro. And rightly so. It is the shortest and steepest of the Kilimanjaro routes therefore with a poor acclimatisation profile. For this reason it is probably the least used trail on the mountain. Success rates are accordingly low. The route approaches from the south and camping is the available option. Pre-acclimatisation is recommended for the ones who do choose this route.
Follow Alice’s view
The Umbwe route is our least favourite of the Kilimanjaro climb routes. Because of its steep ascent profile, it has a much lower success rate with little acclimatisation chances. In our view, other Kilimanjaro routes such as the Lemosho route are much more worthwhile. We recommend that the Umbwe route should only be attempted by strong hikers who are confident in their ability to acclimatise quickly to altitude.
✓ Enjoy panoramic viewpoints
✓ A challenge for seasoned climbers
– Shorter acclimatisation period
– Low success rates
– Less scenic
– Harder climb
The Umbwe route is for climbers who: are seasoned climbers and want a very challenging Kilimanjaro climb
What is the scenery like on the Umbwe route?
The Umbwe route is considered less scenic than the other Kilimanjaro routes because of how quick you ascend. Despite this, the scenery it does have is beautiful with rainforest, moorlands, high altitude desert and glacial zones.
How hard is the Umbwe route?
The Umbwe Route is one of the toughest and steepest Kilimanjaro routes up and should not be undertaken by anyone who is not fit and accustomed to steep trekking. It also has some steep drops so it is best avoided for people who are afraid of heights. The route heads directly upward in a northerly direction to Barranco Wall where it joins in with Shira, Lemosho and Machame. Because of its steep ascent profile, it has a much lower success rate with little acclimatisation chances.
What is the Umbwe route summit success rate?
The Umbwe route is one of the shortest, most direct Kilimanjaro routes which lowers the quality of its acclimatisation profile. Summit success is low. Whilst there are no official statistics, the average success rate across all Kilimanjaro operators for the five day route is 50%.
How busy is the Umbwe route?
The Umbwe route is the least popular out of the seven Kilimanjaro routes because it is the most difficult route up the mountain. It is therefore not very busy, but with good reason!
What is the accommodation on the Umbwe route?
The Umbwe route only offers camping accommodation. As part of our climbing package all of your camping equipment is included; tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and pillow. The tents are taken up and down each day by your dedicated mountain crew.
How long does it take to hike the Umbwe route?
The Umbwe route can be completed in 5-7 days. If you are to choose this route, we would recommend the 6 or 7 day itinerary because of the extra time needed to acclimatise. Climbing Kilimanjaro is not a race. Take your time, enjoy the views and most importantly, pole pole!
What is the Umbwe route cost?
Follow Alice does offer the Umbwe route as a 6 day group climb or private climb upon request. This package costs $2285 per person (based on double occupancy). This includes 6 days on the mountain and 1 day either side at our beautiful parter lodge in Moshi. For more information on the inclusions / exclusions and more details about the trip, head to our Kilimanjaro climb page.
“Thanks to everyone at Follow Alice, from the guys who help plan to the guides and porters I will never forget my time in Kilimanjaro!” Stephen Hemmings
6 Day Umbwe Route Overview
Starting from Umbwe Gate to the summit and finish at Mweka Gate
|Day||Start||Altitude (m)||Altitude (ft)||Finish||Altitude (m)||Altitude (ft)||Time (hrs)||Distance (km)||Distance (miles|
|1||Umbwe Gate||1,600||5,249||Umbwe Camp||2,900||9,514||5-7||11||7|
|2||Umbwe Camp||2,940||9,646||Barranco Camp||3,976||13,044||4-5||6||4|
|3||Barranco Camp||3,976||13,044||Karanga Camp||3,995||13,106||4-5||5||3|
|4||Karanga Camp||3,995||13,106||Barafu Camp||4,673||15,331||4-5||4||2|
|5||Barafu Camp||4,673||15,331||Uhuru Peak||5,895||19,341||7-8||5||3|
|Uhuru Peak||5,895||19,341||Mweka Camp||3,068||10,065||4-6||12||7|
|6||Mweka Camp||3,068||10,065||Mweka Gate||1,640||5,380||3-4||10||6|
Umbwe Route Itinerary
The Umbwe route first approaches the mountain from the south. The entire route is a short, steep and direct climb. After reaching Barranco Camp, the trail turns east and traverses underneath Kilimanjaro’s Southern Ice Field on a path known as the Southern Circuit before summiting from Barafu. Descent is made via the Mweka route.
The Umbwe route is one of the shortest and most challenging of the Kilimanjaro routes
Umbwe Gate to Umbwe Camp
After an early breakfast, our driver will take you to the Machame Gate. From here you will enter the park gates and make your way through the park to the Umbwe Gate. From here you will start your journey making your way through warm and humid mountain rainforest to Umbwe Camp where you will stay overnight.
Umbwe Camp to Barranco Camp
On the second day of your trek you will make your way from Umbwe Camp to Barranco Camp. The journey is rocky and travels through the Senecio forest. Giant groundsels can be seen here which is a highlight for nature lovers. You will soon arrive at Barranco Camp and stay here for the night.
Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
This is a short 4-5h hiking day meant for acclimatisation. After an early morning breakfast, it’s time for us to conquer the Great Barranco Wall. Although it may look intimidating at first, our travellers usually state it was much easier than they anticipated. At the top of the wall, you will be above the clouds with superb views of the southern ice-fields and the summit. The trail then winds up and down until we arrive at Karanga Campsite where we spend the night.
Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
It’s getting real! We’re now very close to the summit and will have some amazing views of the mountain during our short 2-3h ascent to the last base, Barafu Campsite, at 4,600m (15,091ft). An early dinner will be served so you can get some rest before attempting the summit that same night. Before you go to bed, our guide will brief you in detail on how best to prepare for summit night. Don’t worry, you’ll be in great hands!
Part 1 | Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak
Our guide will wake you up around midnight for tea and biscuits. You then begin your summit attempt which many describe as the most mentally and physically challenging part of the whole Kilimanjaro climb. The route heads northwest into the dark night ascending over stone scree. In about 6h, we’ll reach Stella Point (5,685m/18,651ft), located on the crater rim. After enjoying the magnificent sunrise, we continue for an hour or so on a snow-covered trail before reaching Uhuru Peak (5,895m / 19,341ft), the very top of Africa and a life-time accomplishment! Be prepared to be overwhelmed and don’t forget to take your pictures
Part 2 | Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp
After reaching the summit, we descend down to Mweka Campsite at 3,110m (10,204ft). Here, we’ll spend our final night on the mountain after having hiked for about 12-15h. You’ll fall asleep immediately, trust us!
Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
We wake up at our last campsite down in the rainforest. After breakfast, we’ll say goodbye to all of our helpers that have been working so hard throughout the week to get us successfully to the summit. Helpers that have become friends during our days on the mountain. We do the last bit of hiking down to the foot of the mountain, where our driver will be waiting to bring us back to Moshi. Time for a beer and great celebration dinner!
Feeling inspired to climb Mount Kilimanjaro? Got some more questions that you want answered? Shoot us a message! We are always happy to hear from you.
Useful Kilimanjaro posts
- Kilimanjaro routes
- Kilimanjaro packing list
- Best time to climb Kilimanjaro
- Kilimanjaro preparation
- Kilimanjaro safety
- Tipping on Kilimanjaro
- What is it like to climb Kilimanjaro
The 7 Kilimanjaro routes
- Lemosho Route
The Lemosho is the most beautiful Kilimanjaro route.
- Machame Route
The Machame is the most popular Kilimanjaro route
- Marangu Route
The Marangu route only offers hut accommodation
- Rongai Route
The Rongai is easiest Kilimanjaro route
- Shira Route
The Shira route Approaches from the Western side of Kilimanjaro
- Northern Circuit Route
The Northern Circuit is the newest and longest Kilimanjaro route
- Umbwe Route
The Umbwe is the shortest, steepest and hardest Kilimanjaro route