The Umbwe Route is not only one of the least used routes on Mount Kilimanjaro but also one of the least crowded. The hike starts from the south side of Kilimanjaro, a difficult hike that is quite challenging both physically and mentally, and the hike is straight 5895 m to Uhuru Peak. The scenery is beautiful, with the first two days taking you through the rainforest zones before passing through the different climatic zones that are found along Mount Kilimanjaro. It is a 53-kilometer route that has spectacular views of the surrounding areas, and it also happens to be one of the quietest routes on the mountain, so if you are looking to enjoy the wild and untouched side of Kilimanjaro, the Umbwe Route is the right choice for you.
A few quick facts about the Umbwe Route include it being the shortest hike route, quite challenging; you need to have prior experience with mountain climbing or you can have pre-acclimatization before choosing this route; it is the steepest hike route approaching the mountain from the south; and it can trek between 5 and 7 days.
How many days is the Umbwe Route?
The Umbwe Route can be completed in either 5 days, 6 days, or 7 days, but for better chances of getting to the summit, we recommend that you take the 6-day Kilimanjaro Climbing via Umbwe Route or 7-day itinerary for the Umbwe Route for better acclimatization. Take your time as you climb Mount Kilimanjaro using Umbwe because this is not a race and you at least have to enjoy the views.
The success rate on the Umbwe Route
This is one of the most direct and shortest hikes up Mount Kilimanjaro, and this means that hikers do not get a chance to acclimatize, leading to an extremely low success rate. Although we have no official statistics, the average success rate for the 5-day Umbwe Route is 50%. That is a low success rate due to poor acclimatization.
How hard is the Umbwe climb?
The Umbwe Route is one of the hardest and steepest routes on Mount Kilimanjaro. The route is a direct one, taking the steep climb upwards in the northern direction towards the Barranco Wall. From the Barranco Wall, it will head directly to the Shira, Machame, and Lemosho routes, which should be avoided at all costs by hikers who are not physically fit and have no prior experience with hiking steep mountains, rocks, and drops.
When is the best time to use the Umbwe Route?
Although the mountain is open for hikes throughout the year, the best time to use the Umbwe Route is from July to September during the dry season. The wet season, which is April to May, should be avoided at all costs.
The sleeping arrangements on the Umbwe Route are camps only, and the only route along Mount Kilimanjaro with hut accommodation is the Marangu Route. Sleeping equipment like sleeping bags, mats, tents, and pillows are provided, and the dedicated mountain crew will be around to help pitch and remove the tents for the next campsite.
The advantages of using the Umbwe Route are that it is the shortest route and therefore does not take up much time for the hikers; it is not usually used by hikers, making it the ideal route for hikers avoiding large crowds; it has beautiful scenery; and it is not that expensive like the Northern Circuit Route.
The Umbwe Route, however, comes with a lot of cons, which include the following:
- It is not suitable for hikers who are not well experienced with steep hikes and have zero pre-acclimatization.
- It has an extremely low summit success rate because of its direct and steep nature.
There are a few considerations that need to be put in place if you are to use the Umbwe Route, and these are:
Time for climbing the mountain: picking the route can be damaging, especially if it is your first time, so you need to find out the best time to attempt the Umbwe Route. If you are planning on using Umbwe, the best time is during the dry season, from July to September, when the hiking route is not slippery since it is steep in nature.
How much time you have is a huge determinant of the type of route to be used while hiking Mount Kilimanjaro. Climbing the mountain is a huge discomfort if you do not get enough rest, so choose the Umbwe Route if you believe you can take the discomfort that comes with it.
Reason for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro: If getting to the summit is the ultimate goal, then get a hiking route that has a high success rate. And you should take into consideration the physical fitness of the team that you are hiking with.