8 Days Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route

Umbwe Route, which is based in the south, is a classic 8-day tour and is by far the most difficult one offered on Kilimanjaro. The first two days are extremely steep, muddy and generally strenuous making it only suitable for well-trained mountaineers. An acclimatization day is rarely offered on the standard programme, but can be added whereby giving the climber an extra day in the Karanga Valley. The descent trail is the same as the Mweka Route.

Day One.

Arusha / Transfer to Moshi

Pick up from Arusha Town or Kilimanjaro International Airport and transfer to Moshi Town, which is commonly known as the gateway to Mount Kilimanjaro. Half board accommodation at a base Hotel in Moshi.

Day Two.

Umbwe Cave Camp – Elevation 2940m or 9500ft – Distance 8km – Hiking Time: 6-7hours – Habitat: Montana Forest

The majority of the hike on this first day is through the Montana Forest. Lush vegetation with old trees and lilts of ferns and mosses mark this an area that gets reliable rain year round. The forest abounds with wildlife, small bushbucks and duikers as well as monkeys. There is also a rich and varied birdlife. The first 3 hours or so is on a gently rising land before steepening for the last 2 hours. The camp for the night is in a small clearing on the trail.

Day Three.

Umbwe Cave Camp to Barranco Camp – Elevation 3860m or 12,800ft – Distance: 8km. Hiking Time: 6-7 hours – Habitat: Alpine Desert

Shortly after starting the hike the forest gradually gives way to the giant heath. The trail has been following a ridge for some time and as it ascends through the heath land the ridge narrows and sharpens, finally becoming knife-edge with steep drops on each side. As the height of the heath reduces there are stunning views of both Kilimanjaro’s southern flank and across the Mount Meru some of 50 miles away. Wildlife changes with the vegetation, jackals may be heard barking and the huge Lammergeyer seen circling overhead. The Camp is overlooking the Barranco Valley with views up towards Arrow Glacier.

Day Four.

Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp – Elevation 3860m to 4000m or 12,700ft to 13,300ft; Distance: 7km – Hiking Time: 4 hours – Habitat: Alpine Desert

On the eastern side of the valley, across the stream is the Barranco Wall – a 950ft barrier of volcanic rock. Although it is tall and looks steep, it is very easy to climb. This is our first challenge of the day. The views from the wall are nothing less than magnificent. The rest of the day is spent skirting the base of Kibo Peak over left shoulder. We descend down into the Karanga Valley, where we rest up for the night before the tough climb up Barafu hut.

Day Five.

Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp – Elevation 4600m or 15,100ft – Hiking Time: 6 hours; Distance: 7km – Habitat: Alpine Desert

From Karanga the tour heads up a moraine ridge taking your time and going slowly. The views here can be spectacular on the southern glaciers and of the glacial valleys that snake their way down the mountain. The final stage to Barafu is quite steep and as always it’s taken very slowly. As with the day before you reach camp by around lunchtime leaving lots of time to prepare and relax. In the evening your guide briefs you for the final ascent.

Day Six.

Barafu Camp to Summit to Mweka Hut – Elevation 4600m to 5895m (and down 3100m) or 15,000ft to 19,300ft (and down to 10,200ft) – Distance: 7km ascent/23km descent – Hiking Time: 6 – 8 hours ascent/7 – 8 hours descent – Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit

Very early in the morning (midnight to 2am), we continue our way to the summit between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers. You head in a northwestern direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. At Stella Point (5685m/18,652ft), you will stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most important magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see (weather permitting). From Stella Point, you may encounter snow all the way on your 1-hour ascent to the summit. At Uhuru Peak, you have reached the highest point of Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa. Faster hikers will see the sunrise from the summit. It can be very cold at night at these elevations but it will be quite warm by the end of the hiking day. You will want clothing for both extremes with you. From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut Camp sit, stopping at Barafu for lunch. You will want gaiters and trekking poles for the loose gravel going down. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

Day Seven.

Mweka Camp – Mweka Gate – Elevation: 3100m to 1830m or 10,200ft to 6000ft – Distance: 15km – Hiking Time: 5 hours – Habitat: Forest

After breakfast, we continue to descent down the Mweka Park Gate to receive your summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be amply to wear (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy). To the gate where you will be met by our driver and transferred back to a base Hotel in Moshi for dinner and overnight stay.

Day Eight.

Depart for Arusha

After breakfast, you will be transferred back to Arusha Town.

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