The Umbwe route (also known as the “Whiskey Route”) is often considered the hardest but most spectacular and direct way to reach Uhuru Peak.
Drive to the Umbwe Roadhead at 1,800 metres (5,900 ft). The route initially follows a forestry track winding up through the natural rain forest. It then narrows and steepens to climb the ridge between the Lonzo and Umbwe rivers. The first campsite is in the forest by some rock overhangs at 2,940 metres (9,650 ft), (5–6 hours walking).
Shortly after leaving the camp, the forest ends and the path continues along a narrow spectacular ridge. Above, the sheer 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) of the Breach Wall appears and disappears as the afternoon mists roll up the Great Barranco. From the Umbwe ridge the route descends slightly to the Barranco Hut and the camp in the valley floor at 3,900 metres (12,800 ft), (5–6 hours walking). From here the route parts. The traditional route continues north to climb the Western Breach from the Arrow Glacier Camp. However, because of the high risk from falling rock, it is suggested to follow the route below.
A short scramble to the top of the Great Barranco and then a traverse over scree and ridges to the Karanga Valley (4,000 metres (13,000 ft), 3 hours), beneath the icefalls of the Heim, Kersten, and Decken Glaciers.
After climbing out of the Karanga Valley, the trail ascends a ridge to the Barafu Hut, a bleak location with little vegetation at 4,600 metres (15,100 ft), (3 hours walking).
An early start for the ascent to the rim of the Kibo Crater between the Rebmann and Ratzel Glaciers, (4 hours). The last section before the rim can sometimes be snow-covered and an ice-axe or ski stick is useful for balance. From here, a further hour leads to Uhuru Peak, from where there are often fine views of Meru to the west and the jagged peak of Mawenzi to the east. After a short time on the summit, descend to the Barafu Hut before continuing on down to camp at Mweka Hut in the giant heather zone on the Mweka route.
A 3-4 hour descent through forest brings you to the park gate.