At first sight there is no difference between Umbwe Route and Machame Route. Both are parts of the longer Mweka Itinerary, the stops and the locations are almost the same. So why choose Umbwe instead of any other path to the top of Kilimanjaro? Because Umbwe is for tough people, and if you want to challenge the “king” and test yourself at the same time, you must try this road. Basically the starting point is the same as Machame, so are the main stops and the views. But what makes Umbwe special is the fact it takes less time to complete the climb. Six days instead of ten, no extra stops for getting used to the new altitude. It is very difficult, as a route, and this is why very few people choose it. You will have Kilimanjaro for yourselves only.
The way from Umbwe to Barranco
The challenge to Kilimanjaro will start from Moshi. The guide will take you by car to the beginning of the real route, Umbwe Gate. From this point on, there is only you and your dream of getting to the top. Just like on Machame itinerary, you will walk through the forest for a while. But the road here is steeper and harder. A 5-hour walk will take you to a series of rocky hills, beyond which you will stop at Umbwe Camp. The second day the route goes up to Umbwe ridge, along rocky narrow paths, then descend to Barranco. Here the walk is much easier and flat. You will admire the Senecio Wood on your way.
Umbwe meeting the Mweka Itinerary
Day 3 will lead you to the meeting point with Mweka Road, the large ring itinerary including Umbwe, Machame and Shira routes. Your first stop will be Barranco Wall, the incredible glacier that will introduce you to a very hard territory. No time to stop for getting used to the altitude, you must go on, straight to Karanga Camp. There you will spend the night and on day 4 you will walk Umbwe Route up to the crossing where it joins Mweka. This main route will take you to the Barafu Hut. Cold weather outside, but also the view of the lower peaks of Kilimanjaro.
Umbwe final way to Uhuru
On day 5 you will face the hardest and most challenging part of Umbwe Route. As you will climb up these impossible pathways you will understand why this is the route for “tough people”. Your prize, though, is not that far away. Uhuru Peak, almost 6000 metres high, is your final goal and the greatest satisfaction. This moment of glory, on the highest point of Africa, will not last too long. The descent will start in a few hours. It will take one and a half more day to get back to Umbwe Gate and the valley.
This is one of the most exciting experiences in Africa, and one of the most beautiful routes of Kilimanjaro. But make sure you are very well trained and have not a single health problem, before you start this adventure.