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6-Day Umbwe Route

The Umbwe route on Mount Kilimanjaro has a well-deserved reputation for being the most difficult. This route lacks the necessary acclimatization stages due to the quick ascent to high altitude. Although there aren’t many people on this trail, the likelihood of success is also very low. Strong hikers who are confident in their capacity to quickly acclimatize to altitude should only attempt the Umbwe, which is regarded as a very difficult, taxing route.

The Umbwe route is a short, steep, and direct climb when approaching from the south. Before climbing to the summit from Barafu, the trail turns east after passing Barranco Camp and travels beneath Kilimanjaro’s Southern Ice Field. The Mweka route is used for the descent.

Day by Day Overview

Elevation: 5,249 ft to 9,514 ft

Hiking Time: 5-7 hours

Distance: 11 km | 7 miles

Habitat: Health

The day starts with a 50-minute drive to the Machame Gate, where registration procedures are finished. After that, we continue on to Umbwe Gate via villages, coffee, and banana plantations. On a forestry track that winds through the dense rain forest, the trail abruptly ascends. As we ascend the ridge between two rivers surrounded by enormous trees, the path becomes more congested and steeper. In the midst of dense vegetation and trees, Umbwe Camp is situated.

Elevation: 9,514 ft to 13,044 ft

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours

Distance: 6 km | 4 miles

Habitat: Health

The trek’s second day is through rockier terrain with little vegetation and ramshackle, moss-covered trees. A glimpse of Kilimanjaro can be seen as we ascend. As we near Barranco Valley, the path becomes more level. The path descends from Umbwe Ridge through the strange but stunning Senecio Forest to Barranco Camp.

Elevation: 13,044 ft to 13,106 ft

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours

Distance: 5 km | 3 miles

Habitat: Alpine Desert

We start the day by making our way down a ravine to the Great Barranco Wall’s base. Then we ascend the nearly 900-foot cliff, which is not technically difficult. We travel through a number of hills and valleys after leaving the top of the Barranco Wall before making a sharp turn into the Karanga Valley. We have one more steep ascent before we reach Karanga Camp. Acclimatization is the goal of today’s shorter day.

Elevation: 13,106 ft to 15,331 ft

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours

Distance: 4 km | 2 miles

Habitat: Alpine Desert

After leaving Karanga, we arrive at the intersection where the Mweka Trail joins it. We keep going up the rocky slope to Barafu Hut. You have now finished the Southern Circuit, which provides views of the summit from a variety of angles. We set up camp here, take a nap, and eat a leisurely dinner before the summit day. From here, one can see Mawenzi and Kibo, the two peaks.

Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak

Elevation: 15,331 ft to 19,341 ft

Hiking Time: 7-8 hours

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp

Elevation: 19,341 ft to 10,065 ft

Hiking Time: 4-6 hours


Distance: 5 km | 3 miles

Habitat: Arctic


Distance: 12 km | 7 miles

Habitat: Rain Forest

We start the ascent very early in the morning (around midnight). The hardest part of the trek both physically and mentally is this section. At this altitude and time of day, the wind and cold can be very strong. We climb in the dark for several hours, stopping frequently but only briefly. You will be rewarded with the most breathtaking sunrise you are ever likely to see approaching Mawenzi Peak close to Stella Point (18,900 feet). Finally, we reach Uhuru Peak, which is both Mount Kilimanjaro’s and Africa’s highest point.

We now begin our descent from the summit, going straight down to the Mweka Hut campsite while stopping at Barafu for lunch. Trekking poles are helpful because the trail is very rocky and can be quite taxing on the knees. Due to its location in the upper forest, Mweka Camp may experience late-afternoon mist or rain. We have our final meal on the mountain later in the evening before a well-earned rest.

Elevation: 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

Distance: 10 km | 6 miles

Habitat: Rain Forest

We continue the descent to Mweka Gate on our final day, where we pick up the summit certificates. It might be muddy and wet at lower altitudes. We travel another hour to Mweka Village from the gate. We’ll be picked up by a car at Mweka Village and taken back to our Moshi hotel.

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