Umbwe route via Arrow Glacier
Duration: six days
Mt Kilimanjaro's glaciers.
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. 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.
Umbwe Gate (1800m) - Bivouac (first) camp (2940m)
Hiking time: 5h
On day one of the Umbwe route.After breakfast you will be
driven to the Umbwe Gate at 1800m, passing through villages
with coffee and banana plantations. On arrival at the Parks
Gate your guide and porters will meet you. Sign the register
before you enter the park for your first step to
accomplishing a life-long dream. The air is thick with
moisture and the path is usually muddy. 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, with huge trees
surrounding you. The path offers some spectacular views of
deep gorges and if you are lucky, glimpses of Kilimanjaro
towering above you in the distance. The camp is perched
between huge trees and thick undergrowth.
Bivouac (first) camp (2940m) - Barranco camp (3950m)
Hiking time: 6h
Day two on the Umbwe route up Mt Kilimanjaro.Shortly after
leaving the camp the forest starts thinning and is replaced
by rockier terrain, sparser undergrowth and straggly,
moss-covered trees. The path continues 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. The path flattens as you
approach Barranco Valley.
A group of climbers on day two of their ascent of Mt
Kilimanjaro via Umbwe route.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.
Barranco camp (3950m) - Lava Tower (4630m) - Arrow Glacier
Distance: Approximately kms
Habitat: Moorland / Semi desert
Day three on Umbwe Route on Kilimanjaro.After breakfast you
will start your hike towards Lava Tower, a famous landmark
on Kilimanjaro. The path is steep and rocky, with views of
Mt. Meru, Kilimanjaro's little sister, punching her peak
through the clouds.
Tent camp on day three of the Umbwe route.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
spectacular. 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.
Arrow Glacier (4800m) - Crater (5700m)
Hiking time: 5h
Day four on the Umbwe route up to Uhuru.From the Arrow
Glacier camp steep scree and rocky outcrops requiring a
scramble lead up the Western Breach to the crater floor
(5700m). This day will be the toughest challenge by far.
After 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 view
of snow and glaciers. Visible to you left is the Northern
Ice fields of Kilimanjaro with the Furtwangler Glacier in
front of you. Walk past this glacier to the Crater camp,
situated at the crater rim. If time permits, you can climb
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
(Summit attempt) Crater (5700m)-Uhuru Peak (5895m)-Mweka
Hiking time: 2h to Uhuru, 7-8h to Mweka
The camp on day five of the Umbwe route.You will rise around
04:00, and after some tea and biscuits you shuffle off into
the early morning darkness. From the crater floor you will
probably encounter snow all the way on your 2-hour ascent to
Uhuru Peak. Time spend on the summit will depend on the
weather conditions. Do 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 life.
Group of climbers at Uhuru after successfully summiting via
Umbwe route.The walk to Barafu camp from the summit, takes
about 3 hours. Here you will have a well earned but short
rest, before heading down to Millennium camp (3100m). The
route is not difficult and 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. Dinner and washing
water will be provided as well as drinking water.
Mweka camp (3100m)- Mweka Gate (1980m)
A view of Mt Kilimanjaro in the distance on day six of the
Hiking time: 3h
Distance: Approximately kms
Wake early to enjoy a well-deserved breakfast, and then
tackle the five hour walk to the park gate. Pay your porters
only when you know you and your equipment is safe at the
At Mweka Gate you receive your certificate of summit, after
signing the register, and if you've completed the climb
successfully. Climbers who successfully got to Uhuru receive
golden certificates, while those who made it to Stella Point
receive green certificates.
From Mweka Gate you walk to Mweka Village, a one hour walk
through 3kms of muddiness (usually). You receive a hot lunch
at the Mweka Village, and are taken back to Moshi, where you
can celebrate your summit, and have that long-overdue hot
shower. You stay the night in Springlands Hotel.