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
Barranco camp (3950m) - Lava Tower (4630m) - Arrow Glacier Camp (4800m)
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 Kilimanjaro.
(Summit attempt) Crater (5700m)-Uhuru Peak (5895m)-Mweka (3100m
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
Mweka camp (3100m)- Mweka Gate (1980m)
A view of Mt Kilimanjaro in the distance on day six of the Umbwe route.
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 gate.
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