Umbwe Route via Barafu Camp

The Umbwe Route, known for its caves, used to be the steepest, shortest, and most direct route to Uhuru Peak.

Traditionally, the route used steep Western Breach and Arrow’s Glacier route to the summit. However, a tragic rock-fall that killed three hikers in 2006 blocked access via Western Breach. It reopened in December 2007. Most tour operators do not offer this route as an option due to its difficulty and security risks.

Instead, the Umbwe Route now merges with the Machame Route, following the southern circuit to the summit and descending via the Mweka Route.

Duration of climb

On the first night, sleep at the Umbwe Cave Camp, which has two caves that you can visit on the next day. Due to the high risks associated with sleeping at the Arrow Glacier camp and climbing to the summit via Western Bleach, all hikes on the Umbwe route are re-routed, to join with the Machame route from night 2 on the mountain.

On special request, you climb the Western Breach / Arrow Glacier Trail and hike the Umbwe Trail for the purpose of spending the night at the Crater camp.

The main travel difference between the 6-day and 7-day routes in Umbwe is the additional adaptation days at the Barranco camp.

Day 1: Umbwe Cave camp (1614 m) – Umbwe Forest camp (2850m)

Six hours ascending from the Machame Gate, move to the Umbwe Gate (1641 m) above the village of Umbwe, with coffee and banana plantation. The air is humid, and the roads are often muddy. The trail first follows a winding forest trail through a natural rainforest. The narrow and steep ridge between the Lonzo and Umbwe rivers with large trees will bring you to a forested campsite, with some caves nearby.

The trail offers spectacular views of the deep canyons. The camp is located between large trees and dense undergrowth. Enjoy a hot dinner at Umbwe Cave Camp.



Day 2: Umbwe Cave camp (2850m) – Barranco camp (3985m)

Shortly after leaving the camp, continue steeply through the forest. Soon the forest starts thinning and is replaced by rockier terrain, moss-covered trees, and drier air. The path continues along a narrow, but spectacular ridge with a fabulous view of Uhuru Peak. As you gain higher altitude, encounter glimpses of Kilimanjaro, etched against the blue sky. After 6 hours of trekking and scrambling, you approach Barranco camp.

The camp is situated in the valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall, with numerous tiny waterfalls around the camp, fed by streams coming down the Great Barranco Valley.

Day 3: Barranco camp (3985m) – Karanga Camp (4040m)

After spending a night at the wonderful Barranco Wall, trek to Karanga Valley Camp, between Barranco and Barafu Camps.

Climb the steep Barranco Wall and make your way up this impressive obstacle. In the end, it normally turns out to be easier than expected. Topping out just below the Heim Glacier, appreciate beautiful Kilimanjaro. Kibo’s glaciers loom on your left and the jagged peaks of Mawenzi protrude into the African sky under 17,000 feet straight ahead.

After 3-4 hours the route heads down through the Karanga Valley over the middle ridges and valleys it joins up with the Mweka route. This is the preferred route down from the summit and the last water stop on the route, as there is no water available at Barafu camp. Enjoy dinner and overnight at the amazing Karanga camp.

Day 4: Karanga camp (4040m) – Barafu camp (4681m)

After breakfast at Karanga camp, the trail turns steadily uphill towards Barafu Camp. Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice.”

Barafu Camp is located on a small flat surface with exposed ridges and acts as a base camp that peaks at midnight. The closer you get to the Barafu Camp, the cooler the temperature and the lighter the scenery. It is a very bleak and inhospitable area to spend the night.

The summit further rises 1214 m and begins its last ascent attempt. Prepare your equipment, climbing poles, and thermal clothing for climbing activities. This includes replacing the headlight and camera batteries and making sure you have a replacement kit. To prevent freezing, it is advisable to fill the thermos with water.

The total hike time is 4-5 hours and there is a hot lunch upon arrival at the camp. Eat well and go to bed as soon as possible and try to get enough rest and sleep.

Day 5: Barafu camp (4681m)-Uhuru Peak (5895m)-Mweka (3090m)

The hot tea with some tea and biscuits will arrive early in the morning on this momentous day. You will hike to Stella Point on the crater rim in a north-westerly direction. The 6-hour hike to Stella Point is the most challenging and demanding part of the journey for many climbers.

You will take a quick break at Stella Point and be rewarded with the most spectacular sunrise that you will ever witness. On your 2-hour trek to Uhuru Peak from Stella Point, you will almost certainly encounter snow.

The amount of time you spend on the top will be determined by the weather. Stopping here for too long can make it quite difficult to begin going again owing to the cold and exhaustion.

Take pride in your achievement and the day to remember for the rest of your life!

It takes roughly 3 hours to return to Barafu from the peak. Before traveling down to Mweka hut, take a well-deserved but light food and grab the remainder of your belongings.

The trail is not challenging and will take you into the moorland and into and eventually to the forest through a rock and scree path. The camp is located in the upper woodland, so expect mist or rain in the late afternoon.

Day 6: Mweka Camp (3090m) – Mweka Gate (1614m)

After an early breakfast, it is a short 4 to 6-hour picturesque trek back to the Park gate. Some hikers have knee difficulties, which may cause the descent to take longer than expected.

At Mweka Gate, you must sign your name and detailed information in a register. Successful climbers will also get their summit certificates. Green certificates are given to climbers who reach Stella Point (5739m), while gold awards are given to climbers who reach Uhuru Peak (5895m).

You’ll go down into Mweka village from the Mweka Gate, which is usually a muddy 3-kilometer journey. You will be served a great cooked lunch in Mweka village. Return to Moshi in the afternoon for a long overdue hot shower, dinner, and celebrations!

It is extremely advised that you do not tip your porters until you and all of your belongings have safely arrived at the gate.

About The mountain

At 5,895 meters Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain on the earth; it is one of the Seven Summits. The snow-capped peak of Africa is a dormant volcano. This majestic mountain can be found inside the Kilimanjaro National Park of Tanzania, at 005.00 degrees south, 036 degrees east, 5895m above mean sea level.

Exceptional climb success

Since 1994, ClimbingKilimanjaro has been fore runner in operating Kilimanjaro tours. We have a proud and unbeatable track record of more than 15,000 safe and successful summit attempts.

The specialised experience of ClimbingKilimanjaro puts us, as a tour operator, in a unique position to offer the most professional support, guidance, information and motivation to realise this proverbial “bucket-list” dream.

ClimbingKilimanjaro can provide references from previous successful and satisfied clients – on request. Visitors are also welcome to visit our Testimonials & Summit Gallery pages

Real-Time Tracking Service

ClimbingKilimanjaro is the only operator that offers real-time tracking to hikers on Mount Kilimanjaro. This unique service will allow family and friends to track the live progress of their loved ones, as they hike to the summit of Kilimanjaro, subject to availability, pre-booking and at a small supplementary fee.

Guides and porters

ClimbingKilimanjaro only utilises highly trained and registered guides, with several years of experience, to lead a mountain support team that are properly equipped to look after climbers on the mountain.

All of the Climbing Kilimanjaro package options includes the services of one porter per hiker, who will carry the client’s duffel bag (max. 15kg) from one camp to the next.

The above average staff ratio of the Climbing Kilimanjaro Mountain Support Team to climber is: 2 Porters per climber and 2 guides for a maximum of 4 hikers – a very favourable ratio to directly enhance safety and enjoyment on the mountain.