Umbwe Route up Mount Kilimanjaro

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Umbwe Route

Year Round Ascents

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Kilimanjaro by the Umbwe Route
8 days Grade B+  Fully Porter Supported
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This route is the hardest but most spectacular and direct way to reach Uhuru Peak. Extra days can be added to our itinerary to explore or relax along the route or to camp in the Karanga River valley. 

Accommodation on the mountain is in tents; you will need a sleeping bag but a mat is provided. The porters do not pitch the tents for you but will help if you wish.


  1. Arrive at hotel.
  2. Drive to the Umbwe Roadhead at 1800m. The route initially follows a forestry track winding up through the natural rain forest. It then narrows and steepens to climb the ridge between the Lonzo and Umbwe rivers. The first campsite is in the forest by some rock overhangs at 2940m, (5-6 hours walking).
  3. Shortly after leaving the camp the forest ends and the path continues along a narrow spectacular ridge. Above, the sheer 1000m of the Breach Wall appears and disappears as the afternoon mists roll up the Great Barranco. From the Umbwe ridge the route descends slightly to the Barranco Hut and our camp in the valley floor at 3900m, (5-6 hours walking). Day 2 & 3 Video
  4. A short scramble to the top of the Great Barranco and then a traverse over scree and ridges to the Karanga Valley (4000m, 3 hours), beneath the icefalls of the Heim, Kersten and Decken Glaciers.
  5. After climbing out of the Karanga Valley the trail ascends a ridge to the Barafu Hut, a bleak location with little vegetation at 4600m, (3 hours walking). Video
  6. An early start for the ascent to the rim of the Kibo Crater between the Rebmann and Ratzel Glaciers, (4 hours); the last section before the rim can sometimes be snow-covered and an ice-axe or ski stick is useful for balance. From here a further hour leads to Uhuru Peak, from where there are often fine views of Meru to the west and the jagged peak of Mawenzi to the east. After a short time on the summit you descend to the Barafu Hut for a rest and lunch before continuing on down to camp at Mweka Hut in the giant heather zone on the Mweka route. Those with energy on the summit may wish to descend to the Reutsh Crater and visit the dramatic ice pinnacles of the Eastern Icefields. Video
  7. A 3-4 hour descent through beautiful forest brings you to the Park gate and your waiting transport. Drive back to the hotel near Moshi.
  8. Leave hotel after breakfast.

Western Breach Variation: Umbwe Route then Uhuru Point by the Western Breach
This is a really steep, hard but short route to the summit from Arrow Glacier Camp which is itself reached in about 4 hours from the Barranco Hut. From December to February crampons and ice axes may be needed. Some prefer to start from the slightly more comfortable but lower Lava Tower camp - this adds just over an hour to the ascent.

The programme is available all the year round.

Included in the cost:
All park fees, guides, porters, cook, accommodation and food except the hotel is on a Bed and Breakfast basis.

Not included in the cost:
Tips, airport transfers, extra drinks, meals other than breakfast, at the hotel.

See also hotel details and facilities, safari extensions, Zanzibar extensions, weather.

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Kilimanjaro Trek area
trekking up the Umbwe Ridge
Looking up the Umbwe Ridge

view from Barranco
At the Barranco hut

south circuit route
On the Kibo South Circuit

Route Map
route diagram
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ALW 15/11/03