Umbwe Route – 6 or 7 days mountain climb

The Umbwe route is a really beautiful route and is one of the least used routes up Kilimanjaro. This is shorter than the other camping routes and achieves this by a couple of very steep climbs for the first 2 days, after which it joins the same path as the Machame Route.

Whilst these first 2 days are not a technical climb, is best suited to experienced trekkers. So if you are very fit and adventurous and up for a significant challenge, this might be the route for you. You’ll be away from the crowds for the first days but after that are on a well used route. You start at Umbwe Gate, summit via Stella Point and descend via the down-only Mweka Route.

An alternative on the Umbwe Route is to summit via the Western Breach (2 options 6 days or 7 days). For this route you just join the Machame route briefly and then head up past the Arrow Glacier through the Western Breach. This brings you into the top of the crater which is a pretty amazing thing to do.

On the longer option you camp at Arrow Glacier then do the breach and have an overnight IN the crater, summiting to Uhuru Peak a day later. However, for both options the Western Breach is a potentially hazardous route – see notes in our Western Breack route section. When you combine the initial steep climbs of the Umbwe with the final ascent by the Western Breach you have a very demanding challenge.

This is EXTREME. Only consider this option if the exertion, danger and a mountain route where you won’t find many other people is really what you are looking for.

Umbwe 6 day Route Map and Itinerary via Stella

  • Day 1
    On arrival in Kilimanjaro airport you’ll be driven to the base hotel. This evening you’ll have a briefing where you’ll be given details about the forthcoming climb and have a chance to ask any questions.
  • Day 2
    You’ll be driven to the park gate and your guide will sort out the paperwork. Once this has been done you can get underway. Today’s walk will take about 7 hours as you travel through forest to Umbwe Caves campsite. – 2,900m
  • Day 3
    The second day ascends from the forest zone into the heath zone and there are some very steep sections here. Taking it easy is essential to allow your body to acclimatise. A picnic lunch is taken on route and then in the afternoon you arrive into Barranco camp in time to relax for a while before dinner. The views of the Barranco wall and Western breach pertain to events some 60,000 years ago when this whole part of the mountain collapsed. From here on the route follows the same path as the Machame Route. Dinner and overnight Barranco Camp – 3,910m
  • Day 4
    From Barranco camp, famous for its giant groundsels, you ascend the Barranco wall and hike glacial valleys to Karanga Valley. Today is a relatively short day hiking and lunch is taken at Karanga camp. In the afternoon a walk can be taken with your guides for great views of the southern walls of Kibo and deep glacial valleys. Overnight Karanga Camp. It’s just 4-5 hours walking today giving you plenty of time for acclimatisation. – 4,100m
  • Day 5
    Today is another half day ascending to Barafu camp. Once again lunch is taken in camp allowing plenty of time to relax before the summit bid. You are in desolate alpine desert and at times strong winds rip over this camp. But on the plus side you get great views of Mawenzi peak. An early dinner before heading to rest for a few hours. Overnight at Barafu Camp. It’s just 4-5 hours walking today but you’ll be gald of the rest before a big day tomorrow. – 4,600m
  • Day 6
    This is it – summit day! You’ll be woken at about midnight with a hot drink before you set out, torch in hand, for the initial climb to Stella Point. Patience and persistence is the name of game to reach Stella Point on the crater rim at around dawn. It’s then a relatively short final push to the summit, Uhuru Peak – The Roof of Africa!. You’ll see the glaciers and if the weather is clear may get wonderful views of the plains far below. Having achieved your goal, it’s time to head back down to Mweka Camp. You’ll arrive, exhausted but elated, by mid-afternoon.
    This is a seriously long day with 12 – 16 hours hiking time – 4,600m – 5,895m – 3,100m
  • Day 7
    After breakfast you descend once again through montane forest and around mid day after saying farewell to your crew, you are picked up and transfer back to the base hotel. Have a shower and a celebratory drink or two!
  • Day 8
    Transfer to Kilimanjaro airport or your onward travels.

Umbwe 6 day Route Map and Itinerary via Western Breach

Day 1
On arrival in Kilimanjaro airport you’ll be driven to the base hotel. This evening you’ll have a briefing where you’ll be given details about the forthcoming climb and have a chance to ask any questions.
Day 2
You’ll be driven to the park gate and your guide will sort out the paperwork. Once this has been done you can get underway. Today’s walk will take about 7 hours as you travel through forest to Umbwe Caves campsite. – 2,900m
Day 3
The second day ascends from the forest zone into the heath zone and there are some very steep sections here. Taking it easy is essential to allow your body to acclimatise. A picnic lunch is taken on route and then in the afternoon you arrive into Barranco camp in time to relax for a while before dinner. The views of the Barranco wall and Western breach pertain to events some 60,000 years ago when this whole part of the mountain collapsed. From here on the route follows the same path as the Machame Route. Dinner and overnight Barranco Camp – 3,910m
Day 4
The ascent today is very steep and into alpine dessert. The air is generally very dry here and as you ascend the guides will be carefully assessing your progress.Note that if your body is not acclimatising well then the routing may well be switched to an ascent via Stella Point instead. Lunch is taken at Lava Tower with the afternoon to rest. Overnight Lava Tower. – 4,637m
Day 5
There is leisurely ascent to arrow glacier this morning and plenty of time just to let your bodies get used to the thin air. You can also hike the area with your guides to keep the blood flowing. A very dramatic part of the mountain, it is also known to be quite dangerous for rock falls and so extreme care must be taken when walking up towards the breach. There is a very early dinner and then time for some rest. Dinner and overnight Arrow Glacier Camp. – 4,871m
Day 6
This is it – summit day! There is a very early ascent up the breach at 1am. It takes around 4 hours to reach the crater rim and then time for a quick refuel and then the final push to the summit arriving at Uhuru Peak around dawn. The hike then heads down via Stella Point to Barafu camp. Here there is a short rest before continuing to Millenium camp for the evening. Overnight Millenium Camp. – 4,871m – 5,895m – 3,760m
Day 7
After breakfast you descend once again through montane forest and around mid day after saying farewell to your crew, you are picked up and transfer back to the base hotel. Have a shower and a celebratory drink or two!
Day 8
Transfer to Kilimanjaro airport or your onward travels.

Umbwe 7 day Route Map and Itinerary via Western Breach

  • Day 1
    On arrival in Kilimanjaro airport you’ll be driven to the base hotel. This evening you’ll have a briefing where you’ll be given details about the forthcoming climb and have a chance to ask any questions.
  • Day 2
    You’ll be driven to the park gate and your guide will sort out the paperwork. Once this has been done you can get underway. Today’s walk will take about 7 hours as you travel through forest to Umbwe Caves campsite. 2,900m
  • Day 3
    The second day ascends from the forest zone into the heath zone and there are some very steep sections here. Taking it easy is essential to allow your body to acclimatise. A picnic lunch is taken on route and then in the afternoon you arrive into Barranco camp in time to relax for a while before dinner. The views of the Barranco wall and Western breach pertain to events some 60,000 years ago when this whole part of the mountain collapsed. From here on the route follows the same path as the Machame Route. Dinner and overnight Barranco Camp 3,910m
  • Day 4
    The ascent today is very steep and into alpine dessert. The air is generally very dry here and as you ascend the guides will be carefully assessing your progress.Note that if your body is not acclimatising well then the routing may well be switched to an ascent via Stella Point instead. Lunch is taken at Lava Tower with the afternoon to rest. Overnight Lava Tower. 4,637m
  • Day 5
    There is leisurely ascent to arrow glacier this morning and plenty of time just to let your bodies get used to the thin air. You can also hike the area with your guides to keep the blood flowing. A very dramatic part of the mountain, it is also known to be quite dangerous for rock falls and so extreme care must be taken when walking up towards the breach. There is an early dinner and then time for some rest. Dinner and overnight Arrow Glacier Camp. 4,871m
  • Day 6
    There is a very early ascent up the breach at 4am. It takes around 4 to 6 hours to reach the crater rim and then you head into camp. In the afternoon there is a chance to visit the ash pit and Furtwangler glacier. Dinner and overnight Crater Camp 5,750m
  • Day 7
    This is it – summit day! Your start is timed to reach the summit at the break of dawn which only takes around 1 hour. Sunrise here is truly spectacular with stunning views of the crater, Mt Meru and the Southern Icefields. You then descend to Mweka camp arriving mid afternoon for your final evening on Kilimanjaro. Dinner and overnight Mweka Camp 5,750m – 5,895m -3,100m
  • Day 8
    After breakfast you descend once again through montane forest and around mid day after saying farewell to your crew, you are picked up and transfer back to the base hotel. Have a shower and a celebratory drink or two!
  • Day 9
    Transfer to Kilimanjaro airport or your onward travels.
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