7 Days Machame route
The Machame route is known as the “Whiskey” route and is now very popular as it offers excellent acclimatisation, with good opportunities to “walk high, sleep low”, and as a result has a high summit success rate.
It starts with an interesting and steep approach from the southwest, ascending up to Shira Plateau where it joins both the Lemosho and Londorossi (Shira) routes to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. It passes through five diverse climatic zones with some of the most beautiful views on Kilimanjaro, from the expansive Shira Plateau, to Lava Tower, the Great Barranco Wall and Kilimanjaro’s Southern Icefield.
Although overall Machame has a great success rate some people are concerned about a small section of scramble up the Barranco Wall – this is not tricky at all and you will be helped by your guide team every step of the way. On the most precarious part you have to take one stride around a rock outcrop but this is quite easy. The fact is thousands of people use this route safely every year.
Sleeping in tents at designated campsites is the only accommodation option on Machame. The team’s cook will prepare all meals which are eaten in a large dining tent.
The minimum time taken to climb Kilimanjaro via this route is 6 days, and this is adequate time for the fit and well acclimatised climbers. However, most climbers tend to add an extra day to improve acclimatisation and increase their chances of summiting Uhuru.
Machame Gate – Machame Hut Camp
Altitudes (ASL): 1800m – 3000m, Distance covered: 11km, Trekking time: 5 – 6 hours, Habitat: Montane Forest, Altitude gained: 1200m.
After breakfast, drive from your hotel/lodge in Arusha town to Machame Gate. On arrival here, you will sign in at the park office and make the final preparations for starting the climb. Make sure that you have with you the daypack and all the items you will need to use on today’s hiking as the porters ascend a lot quicker than the hikers. You now leave the Park gate and ascend on a ridge trail through the rain forest covered with mist and dripping with beards of moss. It is also in this mountain zone where most of Kilimanjaro’s animals like: Blue monkeys, Black and White Colobuses, Vervit monkeys, Duikers, Suni, etc. and some bird species like: Hartlaub’s turacos, Silvery-cheeked hornbills, etc. are found. Keeping on the winding trail up ridge it will finally take you to Machame Hut Camp. If weather condition permits, you will see Kibo peak dome to the east and Mt. Meru peak floating on the clouds to the west from here. Enjoy a cup of hot drink/s (tea/coffee/drinking chocolate, biscuits, and pop-corn/peanuts) as soon as you arrive at the camp, while waiting for dinner & overnight later in the evening.
Machame Hut Camp – Shira Cave Camp
Altitudes (ASL): 3000m – 3840m, Distance covered: 9km, Trekking time: 4 – 5 hours, Habitat: Moorland, Altitude gained: 840m.
After breakfast, we start walking, leaving the rainforest and giant heather zone behind, and continue our ascent, crossing a small valley and up to a steep rocky ridge, covered with heath. We stop here for a picnic hot lunch. From here, our route now turns west crossing a river gorge and continues all down to our campsite tonight on Shira plateau. Enjoy a cup of hot drink/s (tea/coffee/drinking chocolate, biscuits, and pop-corn/peanuts) as soon as you arrive at the camp, while waiting for dinner & overnight later in the evening.
Shira Cave Camp – Lava Tower – Barranco Hut Camp
Altitudes (ASL): 3840m – 4600m – 3950m, Distance covered: 12 km, Trekking time: 7 – 8 hours, Habitat: Semi-desert, Altitude gained (Shira – Lava Tower): 760m, Change in Altitude; Lava Tower – Barranco: (-650m).
This is a very important day for acclimatization and will help your body prepare for summit day. This will be our toughest day so far and you may start to feel the symptoms of altitude. Our ascend today will take us to Lava Tower at 4600m and stop there for our lunch and climb up (optional) the Lava Tower rock for acclimatisation. Following this we descend to spend the overnight at Barranco campsite. This offers great photographic opportunities of the Western Breach and Breach Wall. The camp is situated in a valley below the Breach and the Great Barranco wall nick-named as “Breakfast Wall”, which will provide you with a memorable sunset. Enjoy a cup of hot drink/s (tea/coffee/drinking chocolate, biscuits, and pop-corn/peanuts) as soon as you arrive at the camp, while waiting for dinner & overnight later in the evening.
Barranco Hut Camp – Karanga Hut Camp
Altitudes (ASL): 3950m – 3930m, Distance covered: 7km, Trekking time: 4 hours, Habitat: Alpine Desert.
Today starts with a short, but fun, scramble, up to the top of the Great Barranco Wall (4230m). We then traverse over an undulating trail on the south-eastern flank of Kibo, with superb vistas of the Southern ice-fields (Glaciers) of the Heim, Kersten and Decken. The terrain changes to scree, with pockets of lush vegetation in sheltered hollows, and there is only a short distance to our camp at Karanga (3930m.), the last water point on the approach to Barafu, in a narrow valley. There is plenty of time to rest, or for a short optional acclimatisation walk in the afternoon up the valley above the camp, before dinner and overnight.
Karanga Hut Camp – Barafu Hut Camp
Altitudes (ASL): 3930m – 4600m, Distance covered: 6km, Trekking time: 3 hours, Habitat: Alpine Desert.
After breakfast, we continue with our ascent in the alpine desert up to the Barafu Hut Camp (4600m) where we will spend the night. We have now completed the Southern Circuit. The views of the Kibo and Mawenzi peaks can be clearly seen from this position if weather condition permits. At the camp, we will have our hot lunch, a short break, and leave the camp(optional) for acclimatisation walk higher up the Barafu Hut following the summit trail for 1 ½ – 2 hours before returning to the camp(Refer the sense of ‘Walk high, sleep low’). Or can rest, enjoy dinner served earlier on this day, and prepare for the summit assault that starts in mid-night.
Barafu Hut Camp – Summit – Millennium Hut Camp
Altitudes (ASL): 4600m – 5895m (and down to 3797m), Distance covered: 7km ascent / 10km descent, Trekking time: 6 – 8 hours ascent / 5 – 6 hours descent, Habitat: Stone scree / ice-capped summit /Alpine desert, Altitudes Gained (Barafu Hut – Summit): 1295m; Summit – Millennium Hut Camp: (-2098m)
Rise up around midnight with some quick tea and biscuits, we will start our ascent by torchlight at about 00:01 a.m. with a slow but steady pace through heavy scree towards Stella Point (5732m), on the crater rim. This is the most mentally and physically challenging part of the trek. We will stop here for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see (if weather permits). Those who are still feeling strong can make the 1 ½ – 2 hour round trip from here along the crater rim passing close to the stunning Rebmann Glacier and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area to Uhuru Peak (5,895m), the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and African continent. After the summit exploration and the photo celebration, the descent to Barafu is surprisingly fast, and after some refreshment, we continue to descend to Millennium Hut Camp (3797m) for our last night in the mountain. This is to be the toughest day that most trekkers have ever experienced. Later in the evening, we will enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.
Millennium Hut Camp – Mweka Gate
Altitudes (ASL): 3797m – 1800m; Distance covered: 12 km, Trekking time: 5 – 6 hours, Habitat: Montane Forest.
Early morning after breakfast, you will proceed with descent down across the Alpine moorland to passing Mweka Hut on the way to Mweka Gate; a descent of about 6 hours. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will be suitable (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy). Once at the Mweka Gate, you will sign out and followed by summit certificates representation. Here, you will be handed a Silver Certificate for having reached Stella Point (5739m), or a Gold Certificate for Uhuru Peak (5895m). After a short session of jubilation and farewell with your crew (guide/s, cook/s, and porters); and tipping of course, and having lunch you will take a waiting car and be transferred back to Arusha town where you will check in at your hotel/lodge for a welcome shower, dinner and overnight. [2 hour drive]