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More info about the Umbwe Route

Hiking Routes
Overview
What is the Barranco Wall?

The Barranco Wall is a steep wall near Barranco Camp, on the Southern Circuit of Mount Kilimanjaro (LemoshoMachame or Umbwe Route). Getting to the top of the wall is a scramble more than a climb as you will be using your arms to conquer some of those knee-high rocks and keep your balance. Breathtaking views of the Heim Glacier and Kibo cone reward climbers after one to two hours for their hard work.

If you suffer from serious vertigo, you might prefer to avoid the Barranco Wall and opt for another hiking route such as the Grand TraverseNorthern Circuit or Rongai Route.

Umbwe Route
What is the Umbwe route like?

The Umbwe route is a short and challenging route, which is steep and goes pretty much straight uphill. It offers the most direct path to Uhuru Peak.

However, don't mistake short for easy as the opposite is true. You need to conquer almost the same altitude difference on any route. Therefore, it leaves less time for altitude acclimatization. Hence it has the lowest success rate.

This route is not as popular as the other routes and is really only recommended for strong hikers who are used to hiking at high altitude.

How long does it take to climb Kilimanjaro on the Umbwe Route?

You climb Kilimanjaro on the Umbwe route in only 5 days. It's a very short and steep route direct to Uhuru peak and it doesn't allow much time to acclimatize.

Therefore, you need to be physically very fit or pre-acclimatized if you want to attempt it.

How difficult is it to climb Mount Kilimanjaro on the Umbwe Route?

The Umbwe Route is one of the most challenging routes on Kilimanjaro, despite being one of the shortest routes. It involves steep climbs from day one and you need a reasonable level of fitness to be able to handle this path.

This route does not allow sufficient time for acclimatization as you will be trekking at altitude for the majority of your journey. Therefore, it is best to only attempt this route if you are an experienced climber.

What are the advantages of the Umbwe Route on Mount Kilimanjaro?

If you are very fit or experienced and looking for a challenge, then the Umbwe route might offer you a good challenge. You can, for example, attempt a 5-day speed climb.

Furthermore, because it's not a very popular route, you will have more privacy and unspoilt wilderness.

Do you recommend the 5-day Umbwe Route?

The 5-Day Umbwe route is the shortest hiking route in terms of distance. It has the most direct path to Uhuru Peak.

However, don't mistake short for easy as the opposite is true on Kilimanjaro. You still need to conquer almost the same altitude difference as on any route. The shorter the route is, the steeper its path and the less time you have to acclimatize to the high altitude.

If you are confident of your physical abilities, and you either have considerable experience in high altitude climbing or you are planning to pre-acclimatize on another mountain, then you may prefer a more challenging and direct summit approach via the short 5-day Umbwe Route.

What are the disadvantages of the Umbwe Route on Mount Kilimanjaro?

The Umbwe Route might be short, but that doesn't make the route any easier. Rather the opposite as you will need to conquer almost the same altitude difference on any route without good opportunities for proper acclimatization.

As a result, one of the major disadvantages of the Umbwe Route has the lowest summit success rates of all routes.

The challenge is not only in the altitude but also in the physical challenge as the route includes steep climbs right from day one.

Unless you are a very fit or an experience altitude climber, it will be a real challenge to handle this path.

Is the Umbwe Route dangerous?

The Umbwe Route on Kilimanjaro is probably the most dangerous of all routes. This is because it is incredibly steep, tough and very exposed in parts. On some parts of the trail, it is so steep that you have to rely on nearby tree routes to navigate your way across. It is also a very short route, so it does not give your body as much time to cope with the high altitude.

What compounds the potential dangers is that a few operators will even take you through the Western Breach on this route, which carries the risk of falling rocks and injury. Therefore, only experienced climbers that are accustomed to high altitude trekking should consider attempting this.

What is the altitude profile of the Umbwe route?

The Umbwe Route has a poor altitude profile. The route is so short and steep from day one, that it doesn't allow time for proper acclimatization.

If you are not pre-acclimatized or experienced with high altitude climbing, you run a fairly high risk of getting altitude sickness on this route.

How popular is the Umbwe Route?

The Umbwe Route is not as popular as the other routes and is really only recommended for strong hikers who are used to hiking at high altitude.

Map of Umbwe Route

Comparison
Which is the most dangerous hiking route on Mt Kilimanjaro?

Umbwe is probably the most dangerous of all routes. This is because it is incredibly steep, tough and very exposed in parts. On some parts of the trail, it is so steep that you have to rely on nearby tree routes to navigate your way across. It is also a very short route, so it does not give your body as much time to cope with the high altitude.

What compounds the potential dangers is that a few operators will even take you through the Western Breach on this route, which carries the risk of falling rocks and injury. Therefore, only experienced climbers that are accustomed to high altitude trekking should consider attempting this.

Even though the Western Breach can also be included in other routes, we recommend to avoid it in any case. As a steep slope in the west of Kibo cone on Mount Kilimanjaro, it is one of the most dangerous places on the mountain due to melting glaciers above it. When the glaciers melt, they release rocks.

Even with a well-trained and experienced guide, the risk of death from rockfall cannot be avoided entirely when climbing the Western Breach.

Which is the most difficult hiking route on Mount Kilimanjaro?

The Umbwe Route is one of the most challenging routes on Kilimanjaro, despite being one of the shortest routes. It involves steep climbs from day one and you need a reasonable level of fitness to be able to handle this path.

This route does not allow sufficient time for acclimatization as you will be trekking at altitude for the majority of your journey. Therefore, it is best to only attempt this route if you are an experienced climber.

On the opposite end, the Northern Circuit also has a reputation for being difficult, due to its length. However, it offers more time to acclimatize, so most climbers should find it easier to reach the summit when following the Northern Circuit.

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