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Umbwe route Itinerary Success Rate, Pros and Cons

The Umbwe Route Itinerary is one of the shortest but most challenging routes to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It is known for its steep, quick climb, often in solitude due to its less-traveled path. The route begins at the Umbwe Gate at the southern base of the mountain, and typically takes six days to reach the summit. Despite its difficulty, the Umbwe Route offers stunning and unique panoramic views, particularly from the Barranco Camp.

The Umbwe Route on Mount Kilimanjaro is renowned for being one of the most challenging and demanding routes to the summit. It’s considered the hardest trail on Kilimanjaro due to its steep and direct ascent, making it a non-technical yet physically demanding route. This route is the shortest, steepest, and most immediate path to the Southern Glaciers, Western Breach, and Uhuru Peak.

The Umbwe Route is characterized by its rapid gain in altitude, which can make acclimatization more difficult for trekkers. This challenging route is ideal for experienced adventurers seeking a true test of their climbing skills and endurance. It offers a rewarding yet strenuous experience as you traverse various climate zones, from the tropical rainforest to the eternal ice.

The Umbwe route is known for its low traffic, providing a quieter and more solitary experience on Kilimanjaro. While it’s not ideal for most trekkers due to its intensity, it is a popular choice for those seeking the ultimate challenge.

Mount Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route Success rate

The Umbwe Route is known as the most challenging path to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. While it offers a direct and steep path to the summit, it also provides the least amount of time for acclimatization, leading to a lower success rate compared to other routes. The exact success rate varies depending on the fitness and preparation of the climbers, but it is generally considered the route with the lowest success rate on the mountain. Data for the Umbwe route is lacking. We estimate that the success rate of the 6-day Umbwe route is approximately 50%. The 7-day Umbwe route has a success rate of about 70%.

Success rates

7 days: 70% to 80%

6 days: 60% to 70 %Starting

Starting point

South

Number of days

6 to 7 days

Elevation of starting point

5,250 feet (1,600 meters)

Distance

32 miles (52 kilometers)

Views

Panoramic views and varying scenery.

Cost

Mid to high-end range.

Traffic

Low

Huts or tents

Tents

Climb high sleep low

Unlikely.

Level of difficulty 

Very high.

The most challenging route on Kilimanjaro with a steep and direct ascent.

Some sections require scrambling on your hands and feet.

It involves climbing a steep wall (Barranco Wall).

Descending route

Mweka Route

Umbwe Route

WHAT IS THE DISTANCE OF THE UMBWE ROUTE 

The exact trekking distance for the Umber Route is 53km or 32 miles. The shortest number of days required for the Umbwe Route is 5 days, It’s a Shorter ascent with strenuous trekking days. By the time you have added on arrival and departure days, it is 9 or 10. However, as it’s considered one of the Shortest and steepest routes on the mountain it is strongly recommended to be very well prepared and acclimatized to increase your chances of success.

Day

Start

Altitude (m)

Altitude (ft)

Finish

Altitude (m)

Altitude (ft)

Time

Distance

Distance

1

Umbwe Gate

1,600

5,249

Umbewe Camp

2,900

9,514

5-7

11

7

2

Umbwe Camp

2,900

9,514

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 Camp

5,895

19,341

7-8

5

3

 

Uhuru Camp

5,895

19,341

Mweka Camp

3,068

10,065

4-6

12

7

6

Mweka Camp

3,068

10,065

Mweka Camp

1,640

5,380

3-4

10

6

WHAT IS THE SCENERY LIKE ON THE UMBWE ROUTE?

The first two days of the Umbwe Route trek are through tree plantations. The beautiful and rich rain forest, before continuing into the steep Western Breach and Arrow’s Glacier path, scramble up to the Reutsch Crater (5,800 meters) where trekkers spend the night near one of Kilimanjaro’s last remaining glaciers, Furtwangler Glacier.

From Crater Camp, one can take an optional one-hour hike to Reusch Crater, or simply explore the areas around Furtwangler Glacier. Reusch Crater is a magnificent sight. It is almost perfectly circular and the ash pit measures 400 feet (120 m) deep and 1,300 feet (400 m) wide. This is rarely seen by tourists.

HOW HARD IS IT TO CLIMB KILIMANJARO ON THE UMBWE ROUTE?

Umbwe route is one of the shortest routes to the Southern Glaciers and the Western Breach and it’s the most challenging route on Mt Kilimanjaro. Approaching from the south, the Umbwe route is a short, steep, and direct climb. It is probably the most scenic, non-technical route on Kilimanjaro. It is quite taxing, primarily due to the relatively fast ascent to higher altitudes, but the rewards are plentiful.

Due to the fast ascension to high altitude, this route does not provide the necessary stages for acclimatization. Although the traffic on this route is very low, the chances of success are also low.  A good level of fitness is highly recommended.

HOW BUSY IS THE UMBWE?

The Umbwe route is the least popular of the seven Kilimanjaro routes because it’s the most difficult route up the mountain. It’s therefore not very busy.

HOW MANY DAYS DOES IT TAKE TO CLIMB KILIMANJARO ON THE UMBWE ROUTE?

The Umbwe route is typically done in 6 or 7 days.

UMBWE ROUTE ITINERARY 

The 7-day version of the Umbwe Route includes an acclimatization day at Barranco where guests can walk up and visit Arrow Glacier before heading back to Barranco Camp. Generally recommended for more fit and adventurous types, this route is very steep in the first 2 days. For those who want more of a challenge with fewer crowds, this is a good choice.

Then,   a 6-day Kilimanjaro hike starting at Umbwe Gate and ascending via Stella Point. Note that it joins the Machame route in the Barranco Valley, and hence has similar levels of people on the trail as the Machame Route thereon. There is a nighttime ascent to the summit and descent is via Mweka Route. 

This route is highly recommended for scenic value and has a medium to high success rate, especially if you choose the 7-day itinerary. The six-day option is not recommended for first-time trekkers.

ARE THERE ALTERNATIVE TRAILS ON THIS PATH?

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 to 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.

8 DAYS CLIMBING THE KILIMANJARO – UMBWE ROUTE IN 6 DAYS VIA STELLA 

  • Day 1
    On arrival at 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 the 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 acclimatize. A picnic lunch is taken on route and then in the afternoon, you arrive at 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 the 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 good for 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 are the name of the 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 you 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 the montane forest and around mid day after saying farewell to your crew, you are picked up and transferred 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 ROUTE PARK FEES 

 

Kilimanjaro  National Park Fees

Conservation fees

 USD 70 per day camping 

Camping fees 

USD 50 per day 

Rescue fees 

 USD 20 per hiker

Guide and porter entrance fees 

USD 2 per supporting crew

Forestry entry fees  

 USD 10 per hiker

Forestry vehicles entry fees

 USD 20 per vehicle 

Tourism added tax ( VAT)

 18%

Retail value tax added 

18%

Total

USD 1027.60

8 DAYS CLIMBING KILIMANJARO – UMBWE ROUTE IN 6 DAYS  – PRICES AND SERVICES

GROUP SIZE

PRICE PER PERSON

1 person

$ 1,800/person

2-4 people

$ 1,750/person

5-9 people

$ 1,650/person

10 + people

$ 1,600/person
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Josephat Mashehe is a seasoned Kilimanjaro guide who offers his expertise to those looking to conquer Africa's highest peak. With years of experience under his belt, Josephat provides comprehensive guidance, ensuring a safe and memorable journey for adventurers. His services include detailed planning, safety measures, and on-site assistance, making him an invaluable asset for anyone aiming to tackle the challenging climb of Mount Kilimanjaro.
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