The Umbwe Route is widely regarded as the hardest trail, a tough vertical slog through the jungle, in places using the tree roots as makeshift rungs on a ladder. Having reached the Southern Circular Route, trekkers can continue north-west to tackle Kibo from the west and the difficult Arrow Glacier Route; or you can follow the Southern Circular Route east round to Barafu and approach the summit from there. The entire walk up and down takes a minimum of five days whether going via the Barafu Campsite (a walk of 27.71km in total) or via the Western Breach/Arrow Glacier (a total distance of 24.35km). Either is entirely too rapid, so take six minimum. How difficult is the Umbwe Route? Despite its reputation as the toughest trek, the Umbwe Route is still a non-technical climb. Taxing, but not technical. All you need are an iron will and calves of steel; this is truly a trek to test your mettle. The difficulty is that it’s so damn relentlessly uphill. Indeed, looking back on the first couple of days we can think of very few places where you actually descend, the longest being the five minutes or so at the end of the second stage when you walk down to the Barranco Campsite. What are the advantages of the Umbwe Route? As far as rewards go, while your calves and thighs will curse the day God paired them with somebody who would want to undertake such a climb, your heart and lungs will be thankful for the workout. Your eyes, too, will be grateful you chose Umbwe as they feast upon the scenery, particularly on the second morning as you leave the forest and find yourself walking on a narrow ridge between spindly heathers. The gobsmacking views on either side of the trail here are amongst the most dramatic the mountain has to offer, save for those on the summit itself. Your ears, too, will be glad that they’re stuck to the side of your head rather than anyone else’s for they’ll enjoy the break, this being the quietest trail of them all – at least until the second day when you find yourself joining the hordes at Barranco Camp, the busiest on the mountain. Are there alternative trails on the Umbwe Route? When trekkers on the Umbwe Route arrive at Barranco, they have a choice: east and round to Barafu Campsite to access the summit via Stella Point; or, if you hanker after the quieter, more dramatic option, you could have joined the path up to Lava Tower to continue to the summit via the Western Breach. The latter option is the connoisseurs’ choice, no doubt, though it is also an extremely risky strategy unless you have taken at least one – and preferably two – acclimatization days en route to the Arrow Glacier Hut. Otherwise, the trip from Moshi up to Arrow Glacier Hut, an increase in altitude of almost 4000m, will have taken you just three days, which is far too rapid. The saner alternative is to head from Barranco to Barafu Campsites. So that’s Umbwe: dramatic views, blessed solitude and some terrific, invigorating walking – and all without the clutter and chatter of other trekkers. Those who know the mountain consider it Kili’s best-kept secret. And it’s hard to argue with that.
Day 1: Arrive in Arusha:
We stay at Arusha Safari Lodge, which is a beautiful Hotel located on the lower slopes of Mount Meru and is a perfect place to prepare you for adventure.
We will gather in the evening at 5:30 pm for a pre-climb briefing and an equipment check.
We will also confirm you have the appropriate mandatory medical coverage and travel insurance.
Day 2: Umbwe Cave (Full Board)
The climb starts from Umbwe Gate (1,800 m.) 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. There is no water available at this campsite, so we must carry from the gate all the water needed for drinking, food preparation and cleaning.
Umbwe Gate to Umbwe Cave (at 3,000 m); 6-8 hours walking
Day 3: Umbwe Cave to Barronco (Full Board)
The path gets steeper on this section, as you get out of the forest along the Umbwe ridge the route descends slightly to the Barranco camp situated in the valley.
Umbwe Cave to Barranco valley (3,950 m); 4-6 hours walking.
Day 4: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp (Full Board)
A steep climb up the eastern wall leads us just below the Heim Glacier, where we may have some spectacular views of Kilimanjaro. We then take a steep exit up the Great Barranco Wall, which divides us from the southeastern slopes of Kibo, the trail continues down into the alpine desert of the Karanga Valley, finally we have a steep climb up to Karanga Camp
Barranco Valley to Karanga camp (4,000 m): 4-5 hours walking.
Day 5: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp (Full Board)
A steep climb out of Karanga, and an easy path on compacted scree with wide views through this empty and dry landscape up to Barafu Camp.
The two peaks Kibo and Mawenzi can been seen from Barafu Camp. After a hot lunch at the Camp, The remainder of the day is spent resting as we prepare for the final ascent before an early night summit walk.
Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp (4,600 m.): 3-4 hours walking.
Day 6: Barafu Camp to Summit to Mweka Camp (Full Board)
Wake up before midnight in the cover of darkness. We begin a steep climb over loose volcanic scree has some well-graded zig-zags and a slow but steady pace will take us to rim of the main crater, Stella Point, at 5,735m. We will rest there for few minutes to enjoy the sunrise over Mawenzi. Those who are still feeling good can continue slowly to make the two hour round trip from here along the crater rim to main peak (5,895 m), which is the highest point in Africa. After a few minutes to appreciate your accomplishment we descend to Barafu is amazingly fast, and we stop at Barafu Camp for some refreshment, we continue to fall to reach Mweka Camp.
Barafu Camp to Summit to Mweka Camp (3100 m): 13-15 hours walking.
Day 7: Descent – Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate to Arusha (Full Board)
A gentle walk takes us down through the rainforest to Mweka gate successful climbers will receive their summit certificates. After lunch, we drive back to Arusha Safari Lodge.
Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate: 3-5 hours walking.
Day 8: Departure day:
After saying bye to our team in operation then you need a Private departure transfer which is included from Arusha to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) for your flight unless you have an option to have Safari or any other option we will discuss.