If you are an experienced hiker looking for the challenge of a lifetime, Kilimanjaro’s Umbwe Route could be the perfect choice for your Kilimanjaro expedition. Short, steep, and strenuous in parts, the Umbwe Route jumps from 1,600m to 3,900m above sea-level in just 48-hours, and so it is perhaps no surprise that it is commonly referred to as the most difficult route on Africa’s highest mountain.
The Umbwe Route is offered as a 5, 6, or 7-day expedition. Attempting this demanding route in just five days is not recommended, quite simply because you do not have time to acclimatize to the altitude, and your chances of failure are high. Most recommended operators offer 6-Day Umbwe Route Expeditions, which include an extra day for acclimatization at Barranco Camp.
If you are thinking about booking a Private Umbwe Route Kilimanjaro Expedition, but are not sure if this tough route is the right one for you, here are a list of Umbwe Route Pros and Cons to help you make a more informed decision:
Kilimanjaro’s Umbwe Route: The Pros
Due to its reputation as a tough climb, Kilimanjaro’s Umbwe Route is one of the quietest trails on the mountain, for the first two days at least. It is highly unlikely that you will encounter crowds on this Kilimanjaro Route, and if you travel in low season, you may well have the trail all to yourself.
The Umbwe Route is a fully-supported camping route, so you don’t have to worry about sharing huts with other travellers. Your mountain crew will prepare your campsite each evening, and you’ll sleep in quality two-man domed tents, which provide much-needed privacy and ‘limited’ comfort after long days on the trail.
You’ll get to see parts of Mount Kilimanjaro that most visitors never will, and you’ll reach the magnificent Barranco Wall on day two… which takes most climbers 3 – 4 days.
If you want to tackle the mighty Western Breach Wall, the Umbwe Route is a great choice for your expedition. Instead of overnighting at Barranco, you’ll head straight on up to Lava Tour… the gateway to the Western Breach.
Kilimanjaro’s Umbwe Route: The Cons
There’s no doubt about it, the Umbwe Route is one of the toughest on Kilimanjaro, and if you are not super-duper fit and experienced at hiking at altitude, your chances of success are slim.
The first two days are short and steep – very steep in some parts, and if you’re unlucky enough to have rain, you can expect to get very muddy.
Due to the huge elevation gained in just 2-days, there is little time for the body to acclimatize to the altitude, and this can quickly lead to altitude sickness. This gives the Umbwe Route a lower success rate than other routes such as the 7-Day Machame Route and the 8-Day Lemosho Route.