The Machame route, known as the “Whiskey” route, is now the most popular route on the mountain.
Machame approaches from the southwest and descends using Mweka, rewarding climbers with views of the expansive Shira Plateau, an optional scramble up Lava Tower, a climb up the Great Barranco Wall, and a traverse underneath Kilimanjaro’s Southern Icefield. The descent occurs on the Mweka route.
Climbers sleep in supplied tents at designated campsites, and eat meals either outdoors or inside a large dining tent. Staff prepares all meals and sets up the tents.
The minimum number of days required for this route is six days, although seven days is recommended.
The Machame route is scenically beautiful and varied. Compared to Marangu, the days on Machame are longer and the walks are steeper. It is considered a difficult route, better suited for more adventurous folks, and those with some hiking or backpacking experience.
Machame is offered as a seven day group climb, or a six to seven day private climb. The six day variation combines days 4 and 5, going from Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp without staying at Karanga.
7 DAY MACHAME ROUTE ITINERARY
DAY1: MachameGate to Machame Camp
Elevation: 5,380 ft to 9,350 ft Distance: 11 km Hiking Time: 5-7 hours Habitat: Rain Forest
The drive from Moshi to the Machame Gate takes about 50 minutes. The journey passes through the village of Machame which is located on the lower slopes of the mountain. As we leave the park gate, we walk through the dense rain forest on a winding trail up a ridge until we reach the Machame Camp.
DAY 2: Machame Camp to Shira 2 Camp
Elevation: 9,350 ft to 12,500 ft Distance: 5 km Hiking Time: 4-6 hours Habitat: Heath
We leave the glades of the rain forest and continue on an ascending path up to a steep, rocky ridge. On the Shira Plateau, we pass through heather and open moorlands, then cross a large river gorge to Shira 2 Camp.
DAY 3: Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower
Elevation: 12,500 ft to 15,190 ft Distance: 7 km Hiking Time: 4-5 hours Habitat: Alpine Desert
Lava Tower to Barranco Camp Elevation: 15,190 ft to 13,044 ft Distance: 3 km Hiking Time: 2-3 hours Habitat: Alpine Desert
We continue to the east up a ridge and then head southeast towards the Lava Tower – a 300 ft tall volcanic rock formation. We descend down to Barranco Camp through the strange but beautiful Senecio Forest to an altitude of 13,000 ft. Although you begin and end the day at the same elevation, the time spent at higher altitude is very beneficial for acclimatization.
DAY 4: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
Elevation: 13,044 ft to 13,106 ft Distance: 5 km Hiking Time: 4-5 hours Habitat: Alpine Desert
We begin the day by descending into a ravine to the base of the Great Barranco Wall. Then we climb the non-technical but steep, nearly 900 ft cliff. From the top of the Barranco Wall we cross a series of hills and valleys until we descend sharply into Karanga Valley. One more steep climb up leads us to Karanga Camp. This is a shorter day meant for acclimatization.
DAY 5: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
Elevation: 13,106 ft to 15,331 ft Distance: 4 km Hiking Time: 4-5 hours Habitat: Alpine Desert
We leave Karanga and hit the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. We continue up to the rocky section to Barafu Hut. At this point, you have completed the Southern Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here we make camp, rest and enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are viewable from this position.
DAY 6: Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak
Elevation: 15,331 ft to 19,341 ft Distance: 5 km Hiking Time: 7-8 hours Habitat: Arctic
Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp Elevation: 19,341 ft to 10,065 ft Distance: 12 km Hiking Time: 4-6 hours Habitat: Rain Forest
Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. Near Stella Point (18,900 ft), you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.
From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.
DAY 7: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
Elevation: 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft Distance: 10 km Hiking Time: 3-4 hours Habitat: Rain Forest
On our last day, we continue the descent to Mweka Gate and collect the summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. From the gate, we continue another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet us at Mweka Village to drive us back to the hotel in Moshi.
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