The Umbwe route is one of the shortest Kilimanajaro routes to the Southern Glaciers and the Western Breach.The route is arguably the most scenic, non-technical route on Kilimanjaro. The first two days of climb on Umbwe route are very steep and It is quite taxing, primarily due to the relatively fast ascent to higher altitude, but the rewards are plentiful. With fewer trekkers, pristine forest and shorter walking distances make it a great option for fit hikers. Add to your experience – OVERNIGHT IN THE CRATER!! Be one of a few fortunate people to spend a night in Africa’s largest volcano. This option is highly recommended, as this will be the only opportunity to get close to the beautiful and fascinating glaciers of Kilimanjaro and to be able to visit the ash pit.
Day 1: Arrival – Moshi
Upon arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport, you will be met by Big Expeditions representative after Airport formalities. You will have a private transfer to your hotel in Arushal for an overnight rest on bed and breakfast basis in readiness for the next day’s hit to Kilimanjaro.
Day 2: Umbwe Gate (1800m) – Bivouac (first) camp (2940m)
Hiking time: 5 hours | Habitat: Montane forest
After breakfast in your hotel in Arusha, you will be driven to the Umbwe Gate at 1800m, enjoy your drive as you pass through villages with coffee and banana plantations. Upon arrival at the Parks Gate your Climb crew will meet you. Go through Kilimanjaro National Park formalities before you enter the park for your first step to accomplishing a life-long dream. As you start your Kilimanjaro trek, you experience the air that is thick with moisture and the path is usually muddy. The scenic Umbwe route initially follows a forestry track winding up through the natural rain forest. Afterwards, it then narrows and steepens to climb the ridge between the Lonzo and Umbwe rivers, with huge trees surrounding you. The path offers some stunning views of deep gorges and if you are lucky, glimpses of Kilimanjaro towering above you in the distance. Your first camp is perched between huge trees and thick undergrowth.
Day 3: Bivouac (first) camp (2940m) – Barranco camp (3950m)
Hiking time: 6 hours | Habitat: Montane forest & Moorlands
You will realize that, shortly after leaving the camp, the forest will start thinning and is eventually replaced by rockier terrain, sparser undergrowth and straggly, moss-covered trees. The path continues further along a narrow, but spectacular ridge. As you gain higher altitude, catch glimpses of Kilimanjaro rising majestically ahead of you – etched against the blue sky. As you approach the Barranco Valley, the path flattens.From the Umbwe ridge the route descends slightly to the Barranco camp. The camp is situated in the valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall, which should provide you with a memorable sunset while your dinner is being prepared.
Day 4: Barranco camp (3950m) – Lava Tower (4630m) – Arrow Glacier Camp (4800m)
Habitat: Moorland/Semi desert
Today, you begin your trek towards Lava Tower, which is a famous landmark on Kilimanjaro. The path is steep and rocky, with spectacular views of Mt. Meru punching her peak through the clouds. Continue with your trek and from Lava Tower you turn towards the Western Breach, a steep climb to Arrow Glacier camp (4800m). This is taxing and symptoms of altitude sickness might become noticeable. The campsite is wonderful. At this altitude, vegetation has now all but disappeared, leaving only rock and scree in varying shades of brown and black. The campsite is very cold and you need to be prepared.
Day 5: Arrow Glacier (4800m) – Crater (5700m)
Hiking time: 5 hours | Distance: About 15 km’s | Habitat: Semi desert/ Snowfields
Your hike from the Arrow Glacier camp steep scree and rocky outcrops that requires scramble lead up the Western Breach to the crater floor at elevation (5700m). This day is considered the toughest challenge by far. When the snowfalls the route can become icy and in these conditions an ice axe or ski stick may be required. When reaching the crater rim, you will be astonished by the spectacular view of snow and glaciers. Visible to you on the left is the Northern Ice fields of Kilimanjaro with the Furtwangler Glacier in front of you. Walk past this glacier to the Crater camp, located at the crater rim.Time permitting, you can trek to the Ash Pit (1 ½ hour). The Ash Pit is 340m across, 120m deep and is one of the most perfect-formed examples in the world. The campsite is very cold as snow might occur. Be one of a fortunate few to spend a night in the inner crater of Kilimanjaro.
Day 6: SUMMIT ATTEMPT, Crater (5700m) – Uhuru Peak (5895m) – Mweka (3100m)
Hiking time: 2 hours to reach Uhuru Peak | 7/8 hours to descend to Mweka | Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit
Today you will wake up at around 04:00, and after some tea and biscuits you shuffle off into the early morning darkness. Having camped at the crater floor you will probably encounter snow all the way on your 2-hour ascent to Uhuru Peak. Time spent on the summit will depend on the weather conditions. It is advisable not stop here for too long, as it will be extremely difficult to start again due to cold and fatigue. Enjoy your accomplishment and a day to remember for the rest of your live. The walk to Barafu camp from the summit, takes about 3 hours. Here you will have a short rest, before descending further down to Millennium camp (3100m). The route will take you down the rock and scree path into the moorland and eventually into the forest. The camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon.
Day 7: Mweka camp (3100m) – Mweka Gate (1980m)
Hiking time: 3 hours | Distance: About 15 km’s | Habitat: Forest
After breakfast in your camp, start a 5-hour, scenic decent back to the Park gate. At Mweka gate you will be presented Kilimanjaro summit certificates. There are two types of certificates, those climbers who reach Stella Point (5685m) are issued with green certificates while those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895m) receive gold certificates. You will then drive back to Arusha Town to enjoy, a long overdue hot shower and celebrations!!Later in the evening you will be transferred to Kilinmanjaro International Airport to board your home bound flight.
NOTE: The above itinerary is a guide only and can be customized by adding extra days according to your preferences. With the above route you can also summit via Barafu camp or via Arrow Glacier.