The Umbwe route is the most challenging route on Mount Kilimanjaro. Approaching from the south, the Umbwe route is a short, steep and direct climb. After reaching Barranco Camp, the trail follows the southern circuit to the summit. The descent is done via the Mweka route. Umbwe is considered to be very difficult, taxing route – one that should only be attempted by strong hikers who are also confident of their ability to acclimatize to altitude.
Due to the fast ascension to high altitude, this route does not provide the necessary stages for acclimatization. Although the traffic on this route is very low, the chances of success are also low.
The route takes six days minimum to complete, although seven days is recommended. The descent is down Mweka, on the south-east side of the mountain. Umbwe is not as scenically varied as Machame, Lemosho and Shira, because the path up and down are nearby.
The Umbwe is ideal for those who want a challenging climb, and are very confident in their ability trek over consistently steep slopes. Also, Umbwe is for those who are experienced at altitude and thus are confident that the punishing schedule of Umbwe will not impede their ability to adjust to altitude. Umbwe is also for those who want a secluded hike.
The route is offered at a minimum of six days, and seven days is preferred when attempting to climb using Umbwe. However, overall, the Umbwe route is not recommended.