Day 1: Umbwe Gate to Forest Camp.
Vehicles take climbers from Marangu to Umbwe Gate. This is a drive of around 2 hours. The gate is at 1800 metres at the entrance to the forest. From here, a 5 to 6 hour walk, ascending steeply through the lush forest to a clearing where camp is made. Although water is sometimes to be found at this camp, it is frequently not of good quality, so water for this camp is carried up from the entrance gate.
Day 2: Forest Camp to Barranco Camp.
The trail ascends steeply up the side of the Umbwe Valley. When it emerges from the forest, there are stunning views to be had both of the peak of Kibo, and down into the depths of the Umbwe Valley, the largest valley on the slopes of Kibo. The path now continues up the western flank of the valley to Barranco Camp at 3,950 metres. This is a steep and tiring day, and it can take 6 to 7 hours.
Day 3: Barranco to Karanga Valley Camp.
The path climbs out of the Barranco Valley via the Barranco wall. This is a steep 1 to 2 hour climb, ascending about 300 metres. The path then follows the gently undulating Kibo South Circuit. Wonderful views are to be had of Kibo's southern glaciers if the weather is clear. After about 3 hours the Karanga valley is reached. There is a short but steep descent into the valley, which has a small stream running through it, and then a short climb up the eastern valley wall. At the top of the wall, at 4000 metres, is the Karanga Valley camp.
Day 4: Karanga Valley to Barafu Camp.
As this is a short day, climbers often do not set off until mid morning. The path climbs for about 3 hours to Barafu camp at 4600 metres.
Day 5: Barafu camp to the top.
Climbers are woken at about 11pm. After dressing in all their warm clothing, they have a hot drink and then set off at midnight. The first part of the ascent is on a rocky ridge. This then turns into scree. The surface is loose and can be hard going. On its steepest sections, the path zig zags up the scree. It takes an average of 7 hours to reach Stella Point on the crater rim. On a fine morning, the views of the sun rising from behind Mawenzi are spectacular. Stella Point is at 5,750 metres. From here, the path goes around the crater rim for a further hour to the summit at Uhuru Peak, 5896 metres. The descent back to Barafu Camp can take a further 3 or 4 hours. After a rest and a meal, the descent continues to Mweka Camp at 3100 metres, a further trek of around 4 hours. If climbers are very tired, or if it is late, camp can be made at Millennium Camp at 3800 metres – this simply increases the length of the following walking day by around an hour.
Day 6: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
The path descends for around 3 hours through the forest to Mweka gate. Vehicles will be waiting to transport climbers and crew back to Marangu Hotel.