The Umbwe route is the shortest, steepest and hardest Kilimanjaro route. It’s not ideal for most trekkers, as it doesn’t give your body much time to acclimatise to the increased elevation. We explain the pros and cons of the Umbwe route.
The Umbwe route has a reputation for being the most challenging route on Kilimanjaro. And rightly so. It’s the shortest and steepest of the Kilimanjaro routes, and accordingly has a poor acclimatisation profile. For this reason its summit success rate is low and its one of the least used trails on the mountain. The Umbwe approaches the summit from the south and camping is the only available accommodation option. Pre-acclimatisation is recommended for those who choose to trek this route.
The Umbwe route is our least favourite of the Kilimanjaro climb routes. Given its steep ascent, it doesn’t offer much time to acclimatise and so has a low summit success rate. In our view, other Kilimanjaro routes such as the Lemosho route are much better choices. We recommend the Umbwe route only be attempted by strong hikers who are confident in their ability to acclimatise quickly to high altitude.
The 7 day version of the Umbwe Route includes an acclimatisation day at Barranco where guests can walk up and visit Arrow Glacier before heading back to Barranco Camp. Generally recommended for more fit and adventurous types, this route is very steep in the first 2 days. For those that want more of a challenge with less crowds this is a good choice.
Then, 6 day Kilimanjaro hike starting at Umbwe Gate and ascending via Stella Point. Note that it joins the Machame route in the Barranco Valley, and hence has similar levels of people on trail as the Machame Route thereon. There is a night time ascent to the summit and descent is via Mweka Route.
This route is highly recommended for scenic value and has a medium to high success rate, especially if you choose the 7 day itinerary.
The six-day options is not recommended for first-time trekkers.