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Umbwe Route Overview

The most demanding, steep and exposed Kilimanjaro route, the Umbwe Route is arguably also the most spectacular in terms of scenery. However, this is only a real option for highly experienced climbers, due to the difficulty of the trails.

The short and challenging beginning ascent to Barranco camp takes two days (on the Lemosho and Machame trails this journey takes three to four days). The lack of time for acclimatization is also a factor to consider, as this is one of the reasons why the Umbwe route has a lower success rate. The first two days are the most difficult, with parts of the trail on the first day so steep that tree roots must be used as steps to climb and handles to pull yourself up.

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How Challenging is the Umbwe Route?

The Umbwe route offers a challenging yet exhilarating trekking experience, making it a preferred choice for seasoned adventurers seeking an adrenaline-fueled journey to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Despite its difficulty, the Umbwe route is renowned for its stunning scenery and sense of achievement upon reaching the Uhuru Peak.

1. Steep and Direct Ascent: The Umbwe route is characterized by its steep and direct ascent, presenting climbers with demanding terrain and exhilarating challenges. This route is best suited for experienced trekkers with a high level of fitness and mountaineering skills.

2. Remote and Less Crowded: Unlike some of the more popular routes on Kilimanjaro, the Umbwe route offers a remote and less crowded trekking experience. This allows climbers to immerse themselves fully in the natural beauty of the mountain and enjoy a sense of solitude along the trail.

3. Breathtaking Scenery: Despite its challenging nature, the Umbwe route rewards climbers with breathtaking scenery and panoramic views of Kilimanjaro’s iconic peaks. From lush rainforests to rugged alpine terrain, the route showcases the diverse landscapes of Africa’s tallest mountain.

Why Choose the Umbwe Route?

4. Direct Route to the Summit: The Umbwe Route is the most direct route to the summit of Kilimanjaro, offering a thrilling and efficient ascent for experienced climbers. This route provides a sense of accomplishment and adventure as trekkers tackle challenging terrain en route to Uhuru Peak.

5. Unique Perspective of Kilimanjaro: By taking the Umbwe route, climbers gain a unique perspective of Kilimanjaro, traversing through pristine wilderness areas and rugged terrain. This unspoiled path offers unparalleled opportunities for wildlife sightings and remote exploration.

6. High Altitude Challenge: The Umbwe route presents climbers with the ultimate high-altitude challenge, ascending rapidly to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Proper acclimatization and physical fitness are essential for success on this demanding route.

Length and Details of the Umbwe Route

7. Distance Covered: The Umbwe route spans approximately 53 kilometers from gate to gate, offering climbers a direct and challenging journey to the summit of Kilimanjaro.

  • Day-wise Distance Breakdown:
    • Day 1: 11 km – Umbwe Gate to Umbwe Camp
    • Day 2: 6 km – Umbwe Camp to Barranco Camp via Barranco Wall
    • Day 3: 10 km – Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
    • Day 4: 5 km – Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
    • Day 5: 4 km – Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak and descent to Mweka Camp

Success Rate of the Umbwe Route

8. Summit Success Rate: The Umbwe Route boasts a summit success rate of approximately 65% to 70%, reflecting its challenging terrain and rapid ascent. Proper preparation, acclimatization, and mountaineering skills are essential for climbers attempting this route.

We are dedicated to providing climbers with the necessary support and expertise for a successful summit on the Umbwe Route. Join us for an unforgettable adventure on Kilimanjaro’s most direct and exhilarating path to the Roof of Africa!

8 Days Umbwe Route Itinerary

DAY 1: UMBWE GATE – UMBWE CAVE: 9.6km/6mi | 6-8hrs | Moorland

Elevation: 1651m/5417ft to 2944m/9659ft
Altitude gained: 1293m


Departing from Moshi driving to the Kilimanjaro National Park Gate. We will patiently wait for our permits to be issued while watching the hustle and bustle of operations as many crews prepare for the journey ahead Enjoy the beautiful rainforest scenery and windy trails while your guide tells you about the local flora and fauna and natural wildlife. At these lower elevations the trail can be muddy and quite slippery. We highly recommend gaiters and trekking poles here. The path follows a ridge between two deep valleys up through the dense montane forest. The camp is perched between huge trees and thick undergrowth.

DAY 2: UMBWE CAVE – BARRANCO CAMP: 4.75km/3mi | 4-6hrs | Moorland

Elevation: 2944m/9659ft to 3986m/13,077ft
Altitude gained: 1042m


After a good nights sleep and a hearty breakfast we emerge from the rain forest and continue on a steep ascending path, along the Umbwe ridge as it descends slightly to Barranco camp situated in the valley. Temperatures begin to drop.

DAY 3: BARRANCO CAMP – KARANGA CAMP: 5.2km/3mi | 3-4hrs | Alpine Desert

Elevation: 3986m/13,077ft to 4034m/13,235ft
Altitude gained: 48m


After breakfast, we continue on a steep ridge up the adventurous Barranco Wall to the Karanga Valley and the junction, which connects, with the Mweka Trail. This is one of the most impressive days to see the power, agility, and strength of your crew zip over this wall with what appears such ease. Overnight at Karanga Camp.

DAY 4: KARANGA CAMP – BARAFU CAMP: 3.3km /2 mi | 3-4hrs | Alpine Desert

Elevation: 4034m/13,235ft to 4662m/15,295ft
Altitude gained: 628m


We continue up toward Barafu Camp, and once reached you have now completed the South Circuit, which offers a variety of breathtaking views of the summit from many different angles. An early dinner and rest as we prepare for summit night. Overnight at Barafu Camp.

DAY 5: BARAFU CAMP – SUMMIT: 4.86km /3mi up | 5-7hrs | – MWEKA CAMP: 11.5km /7.1mi down | 5-6hrs | Glaciers, Snow Capped Summit

Elevation: 4662m/15,295ft to 5895m/19,341ft
Altitude gain: 1233m
Descent to 3106m/10,190ft
Altitude lost: 2789m


Excitement is building as morning comes with an early start between midnight and 2 a.m. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek.

We continue our way to the summit between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers trying to stay warm and focused of the amazing sense of accomplishment that lies ahead. With a switchback motion in a northwesterly direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. You will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise during your short rest here. Faster hikers may view the sunrise from the summit. From here on your remaining 1 hour ascent to Uhuru Peak, you are likely to encounter snow all the way.

Congratulations, one step at a time you have now reached Uhuru Peak the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the entire continent of Africa!

After photos, celebrations and maybe a few tears of joy we take a few moments to enjoy this incredible accomplishment. We begin our steep descent down to Mweka Camp, stopping at Barafu for lunch and a very brief rest. We strongly recommend gaiters and trekking poles for uncooperative loose gravel and volcano ash terrain. Well-deserved rest awaits you to enjoy your last evening on the mountain. Overnight Mweka Camp.

DAY 6: MWEKA CAMP – MWEKA GATE – MOSHI: 9.1km/5.7mi |3-4hrs | Rainforest

Elevation: 3106m/10,190ft to 1633m/5358ft
Altitude lost: 1473m

After breakfast and a heartfelt ceremony of appreciation and team bonding with your crew it’s time to say goodbye. We continue the descent down to the Mweka Park Gate to receive your summit certificates. As the weather is drastically warmer, the terrain is wet, muddy and steep and we highly recommend Gaiters and trekking poles.

Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Guide

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Here, we’ve compiled crucial insights to prepare you for your Kilimanjaro climb. Find valuable hints, tips, tricks, and recommendations in our comprehensive guide, all offered free of charge. Dive in!

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