The Umbwe route is one of the shortest routes to the Southern Glaciers and the Western Breach. It is probably the most scenic, non-technical route on Kilimanjaro. It is quite taxing, primarily due to the relatively fast ascent to higher altitude, but the rewards are plentiful. Fewer people, pristine forest and shorter walking distances make it a great option for fit hikers.
Day 1: To Umbwe Cave – 1800m to 2800m
Drive from Moshi to the Umbwe Gate. Commence the climb through the rain forest with packed lunch on route. Dinner and overnight at the first encampment at 2,800 meters. Lower down, the trail can be muddy and slippery and even steep, but not technical.
Day 2: To Barranco Hut – 2800m to 3900m
After breakfast, we leave the glades of the forest and follow an ascending path on the open moorland to the Barranco Hut located at 3,900 meters. Dinner and overnight at the campsite.
Day 3: Acclimatization Day – 3900m Variable walking time
This is an acclimatization day at Barranco, walking around the greater Barranco and up to the Breach Wall. Dinner and overnight at the campsite.
Alternatively, you can hike up to the Lava Tower Camp at 3400m. Very few climbers camp there, but it can also be colder.
Day 4: To Arrow Glacier – 3840m to 4850m
Depart from Barranco, ascending slowly to the Arrow Glacier at 4,850 meters. Dinner and overnight at the Arrow campsite.
Day 5: To Summit and Mweka Hut – 4850m to 5895m (and down to 3100m)
Early morning, commence the ascent to the summit on very steep rocky and heavy scree up to Uhuru Peak (5,895 meters), the highest point in Africa. Scrambling will be needed and it can be snowy and icy up this way. From here we descend going straight down to the Mweka encampment (lunch and rest at Barafu Hut) for dinner and overnight. This part of the descent takes about 5 hours. You will want gaiters and trekking poles for the loose gravel going down. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep. Beer and soda may be available for purchase at the Mweka Hut – the only place on this route.
Day 6: To Moshi – 3100m to 1830m
After breakfast, we continue the descent down to the Mweka Park Gate. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be plenty to wear (keep raingear and warmer clothing handy). A vehicle will meet you at Mweka village to drive you back to hotel in Moshi. Don’t forget to tip your guides and porters. It is time for celebration!
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