The Umbwe Route used to be the steepest, shortest and most direct route to Uhuru Peak.Traditionally the route utilised the steep Western Breach and Arrow’s Glacier path to the summit; however, due to a tragic rock-fall in 2006 that claimed the lives of three trekkers the approach via the Western Breach was closed. It reopened in December 2007 but due to its difficulty and safety risks most travel operators do not offer this route as an option.Aside from the physically taxing journey, the scenery is the ultimate reward. Your eyes will be treated to jaw-dropping views along each stage of the journey. As for the route itself, Umbwe starts from the southern part of Kilimanjaro and presents trekkers with a steep climb and travels below the Southern Ice Field before eventually summiting from Barafu.
On arrival from KIA we transfer to your hotel in Moshi town. You`ll have a short time to freshen up, and then have a briefing. Our guide will give you a briefing and ensure that you have all the gear required for the climb. If you are missing essential equipment it can be rented for very cheap prices.
The day begins with a 50 minute 4WD to reach the Machame Gate for paperwork and registration formalities. After making your way through the village landscape dotted with coffee and banana plantations to Umbwe Gate, the trail takes off sharply on a forested track which winds up the dense rainforest and follows through on a narrow and steep climb on a ridge between two rivers surrounded by huge trees. Umbwe Camp is perched between trees and thick undergrowth.
Elevation Gain: 1,300 meters, 4264 feet
Continuing on the trail on the second day you pass through the sparse and moss-covered vegetation of the heather moorlands. The trail flattens and gets better as you close in on the Barranco Valley. From the Umbwe Ridge, your descent is into the Barranco camp through the Senecio forests.
Elevation Gain: 1,077 meters, 3,532 feet
The day starts with a drop into the base of the Great Barranco Wall, for a non-technical but vertical climb up the intimidating wall. It’s not even a climb rather a scramble to the top of the 900ft high Barranco Wall on all fours. Once at the top you will traverse a series of hills and valleys before taking a sharp descent into the Karanga Valley. A steep climb later you would have reached the Karanga Camp. The short day filled with ascents and descents provides for decent acclimatization.
Elevation Gain: 19 meters, 62 feet
The next morning we head out from Karanga to hit the Mweka trail ascending a rocky trail to the high camp Barafu Hut. The route circles around the southern circuit and offers views of the scenic surroundings. Then we eat rest and recuperate in the camp as preparation for the summit ascent at midnight. The views of twin peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi are great from the Barafu camp.
Elevation Gain: 678 meters, 2,224 feet
Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit for what is going to be the most grueling portion of the trek and bound to test your physical and mental reserves to the hilt. We ascend in the darkness for several hours taking frequent, but short breaks to reach Stella Point (18,900 ft), to witness the spectacular sunrise over Mawenzi peak. Another hour’s walking takes us to the summit, Uhuru Peak (5895m), the highest point in Africa From the summit, you will make a steady descent to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is rocky and the descent can be especially hard for your aching legs and back, already stressed from the exhausting ascent. Pull out your trekking poles for support and leverage while descending as the location of Mweka Camp in the upper rainforest region predisposes it to mist and rain in the late afternoon.
Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak
Elevation Gain: 1,223 meters, 4,010 feet
Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp
Elevation Gain: 2828 meters, 9,276 feet
On the last day, you will make a steady descent to the Mweka Gate, where at the park office you will be presented with a certificate marking your achievement of summiting at the top. As you continue your descent, be watchful of your footing as the ground tends to be damp and muddy at the lower reaches. From the gate, we continue another trekking for another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet us at Mweka Village to drive us back to the hotel in Arusha or Moshi.
Elevation Gain: 1,300 meters, 4264 feet