The Umbwe Route Itinerary

Day One:

Umbwe Gate 5,900 ft (1,800 m)
Umbwe Cave Camp 9,500 ft (2,900 m)
Ascent 3,600 ft (1,097 m)
Descent 0 ft (0 m)
Walking time 6 to 7 hours

Leave Arusha as early as 8 a.m. heading to the starting point at Umbwe Gate (5900f), passing through attractive farmland of coffee and banana in Umbwe Village. After completing necessary registration, we start trekking through beautiful dense montane forest, under the tangled canopy of moss-coated vines which are home to the black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys and a vibrant array of exotic birds.

By the time you get to camp, which is set at the edge of Forest Zone, a cup of coffee/tea and popcorn will be waiting for you while dinner is being prepared.

Day Two:

Umbwe Cave Camp 9,500 ft (2,900 m)
Barranco Valley Camp 12,795 ft (3,900 m)
Ascent 3,280 ft (1,000 m)
Descent 0 ft (0 m)
Walking time 5 to 6 hours

Wake up early in the morning with a cup of tea/coffe in your tent and get ready before breakfast at 7 a.m. Leaving camp soon after breakfast, you’ll see that quickly the taller trees will give way to giant heather and giant erica, and the air will become drier. The ridge forms steeply on this day, and on either side of the trail the ground drops away. At some point the forest and clouds will part to give you fabulous view of Kibo. You will encounter giant groundsels and giant lobelias as you continue climbing up to reach Barranco Valley Camp (3900m).

Day Three:

Barranco Valley 12,795 ft (3,900 m)
Lava Tower Camp 15,092 ft (4,600 m)
Barranco Valley Camp 12,795 ft (3,900 m)
Ascent 2,297 ft (700 m)
Descent 2,297 ft (700 m)
Walking time 6 to 7 hours

This is completely acclimatization day. After following the same routine in the morning, we leave Barranco Valley Camp (3900m) and head to Lava Tower Camp (4600m). It is quite a steep climb, which is great training for the summit. Along the way you will see beautiful views of the high altitude plants like giant lobelias and giant senecios. After getting to Lava Tower Camp you will have lunch, then you will rest for some time, and finally we will head back to Barranco Valley Camp (3900m).

Day Four:

Barranco Valley Camp 12,795 ft (3,900 m)
Karanga Valley Camp 13,123 ft (4,000 m)
Ascent 1,312 ft (400 m)
Descent 984 ft (300 m)
Walking time 3 to 4 hours

The path heads out across the valley over several streams and up to the foot of the imposing Barranco Wall, or the “breakfast wall”, as it is known by guides and porters. This is a steep and exposed climb of around 300m. The wall is near vertical, but the path cuts across it on a diagonal. Technically, it is no more than a scramble, with some of the porters being able to go up without needing to use their hands. It is quite a struggle, but there is real sense of achievement as you get to the top, and the summit comes back into view that little bit closer.

From here it is only a short distance to our camp over the steep sided valley at Karanga. The terrain changes to scree with pockets of lush vegetation in sheltered hollows, and there are superb vistas of the southern icefields. There is plenty of time to rest, and a short acclimatization walk in the afternoon.

Day Five:

Karanga Valley Camp 13,123 ft (4,000 m)
Barafu Hut Camp 15,092 ft (4,600 m)
Ascent 1,969 ft (600 m)
Descent 0 ft (0 m)
Walking time 3 to 4 hours

It is a short day with a gentle steep climb to Barafu Huts Camp, and there are far-reaching views all along this section. On very clear days you can even see an active volcano of Oldonyo Lengai in Arusha.

You will reach camp by lunch time and the remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent before an early night.

Day Six:

Barafu Hut camp 15,092 ft (4,600 m)
Stella Point 18,800 ft (5,731 m)
Uhuru Peak 19,340 ft (5,895 m)
Mweka Hut Camp 10,171 ft (3,100 m)
Ascent 4,252 ft (1,296 m)
Descent 9,173 ft (2,796 m)
Walking time 11 to 15 hours

Wake up early at midnight, put on your gear for the summit, and in 30 minutes you will be served some hot drinks like coffee, tea and some snacks, and by 1 a.m. you will be leaving camp.

The ascent is by torchlight and the plan is to get to Stella Point (5731m) in time to watch the sunrise over the jagged peaks of Mawenzi. Five to six hours of trudging up generally well-graded zigzags, this way and that way, backwards and forwards in the dark, uphill all the way. On some Strecthes the gound is stable, while in others, the loose volcanic scree scrunches and slides underfoot. All the way your guide and assistant guides will keep you moving “pole pole” (slowly), taking regular rest stops to drink and catch your breath. But the air is now incredibly thin and nausea can easily set in. Your guide will be cheking on you every now and then, making sure that everybody is okay to proceed with the ascent. If he says that it is the time to stop, then that is final. You will be taken down immediately, and depending how serious your condition is, you can either wait for the others at Barafu Hut Camp or you will be taken down to the lower altitude as possible.

After about 5 to 6 hours you should reach to Stella Point (5731m). Then this will be exactly in time for the sunrise over Mawenzi. This will be a time for taking pictures and at the same time you will be rewarded with a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate for getting to this point. Then, after 10 to 15 minutes break, it will be time for the final push!

This 45 minute final ascent is a highlight of the climb. Around the crater rim, passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area, and finally on to Uhuru Peak at (19,340f). It is this summit that climbers talk most enthusiastically about when they get off the mountain. The lights plays tricks on the ice and the thin air plays tricks on your mind. Many people talk of perculiarly uplifting experience.

Coming down may not be as tough as going up, but it does present its own set of difficulties. The main problems are usually knee and toe related. Knee problems can be alleviated by proper use of two walking poles. Toe problems should be alleviated by tightening your boots up before the descent in order to prevent your feet from crushing your toes inside your boots. You can easily loose a toe-nail if your boots are too loose or too small.

You will rest for some time at Barafu Hut Camp before continuing moving down to the final campsite at Mweka Hut Camp (3100m). For some people this descent is actually the highlight, for others it is the worst part.

Day Seven:

Mweka Hut Camp 10,171 ft (3,100 m)
Mweka Gate 5,413 ft (1,650 m)
Ascent 0 ft (0 m)
Descent 4,757 ft (1,450 m)
Walking time 2 to 3 hours

In the morning this day there will be a farewell celebration – the staff will be singing and dancing a kilimanjaro song. Thanks and tips for your guides and support are appreciated. Now it's time to take a group photo!

The descent to Mweka Gate is through a beautiful rain forest. By now you have probably lost all interest in your surroundings and you are thinking only of a shower, a massage, a beer and above all, a comfortable bed.

A vehicle will be waiting for you at the park gate and usually you will part from the climb team at this point. Over the days you will have created a real bond with your team on the mountain, so it’s sad to say goodbye. Remember to get addresses so you can keep in touch. The drive back to the hotel in Arusha takes less than two hours.


$3000 per person


All park fees, 3 nights hotel accommodation, all transfers, all food and bevarages on the mountain, guides and porters, oxygen cylinder, gamow bag, and a private bathroom tent on the mountain. See equipment.