Machame Route Overview
Also referred to as the Whiskey Route, Machame attracts around 25% of the total climbers on the mountain. We feel that this is the most varied and scenic route up Kilimanjaro. The downside is that accommodation on the Machame route is strictly tents only. This is more than made up for by the incredible sights you will be treated to, that will not be seen by those who have chosen the easier Marangu route. From late afternoon sunsets at Shira, to the misty heights of Kibo at the great Barranco Wall, the Machame route provides the more adventurous hiker with stunning photo opportunities.
The day walks are longer and steeper and generally physically more challenging than the Marangu route, so you need to be fit to do this route.
Day 1: (JRO) OR KILIMANJARO AIRPORT – ARUSHA
Our staff will meet you at Kilimanjaro International airport and transfer you to Arusha where you will spend the evening. Before dinner, your guide will sit with you and brief you on the climb ahead. Stay overnight at Arusha.
Day 2: MACHAME GATE – MACHAME CAMP
After breakfast you will be transferred from Arusha to Machame gate where all your supplies and your equipment will be prepared by your guide, his team of porters and your cook. More than likely it will be wet and muddy so you will have take an hour long way of nearly 63 km from Arusha to the Machame gate. After you have registered at the gate office you will begin your Kilimanjaro climb for real. First, you will enter the rain forest (where it really does rain!), so you can fully expect to take a wet and soggy hike along a muddy trail until you hit the halfway point to the Machame camp. Here you will stop for lunch before heading off for the Machame camp. By the time you arrive at Machame Camp later in the afternoon your porters will already have arrived and will have started preparing everything for your arrival, your tents will be pitched and water will be on the boil. You will be given a supply of water to wash with and later on your cook will prepare dinner for you. You can expect temperatures to drop to freezing point at this campsite. Stay overnight at Machame Campsite.
Altitude: 1500 m – 3100 m
Hiking time: 7 – 8 hours
Distance: 16 – 19 km
Habitat: Rain forest
Day 3: MACHAME CAMP- SHIRA CAMP
After an early start you will be served breakfast at Machame Camp, then you climb an hour or so before you leave the glades of the forest. The gradient eases off a bit as you hike through moorlands for a further 2 hours until it’s time for lunch. After a quick lunch and a short rest you will continue your ascent up a rocky ridge leading onto the Shira plateau.
On a clear day you will see from here the Western Breach with its awesome glaciers in the east. A short hike from here will bring you to the Shira campsite, where you will be spending the night. Again, the porters will have your tents pitched before you arrive and will boil drinking and washing water, before your cook prepares your dinner. At 3850 meters, your night at this camp will see temperatures dropping to more than just a few degrees below freezing. Stay overnight at Shira Campsite.
Altitude: 2980 m – 3850 m
Hiking time: app. 6 hours
Distance: 9- 10 km
Habitat: Rain forest and Moorland
Day 4: SHIRA CAMP- LAVA TOWER- BARRANCO CAMP
From Shira camp the route turns east towards Kibo and you will find yourself hiking through semi desert conditions and fairly rocky conditions surrounding Lava Tower – to get here you will have hiked for about 5 hours and you will have attained an altitude of over 4450 meters. You will have lunch before beginning your ascent towards Lava Tower at 4600 meters.
After lunch you descend again by approximately 650 meters down to the Barranco camp – this will take a little over 2 hours of hiking. On the way you should make the most of the excellent vantage points along the way which overlook the Western Breach and Breach Wall – a good time to get your cameras out to get some stunning pictures.
The camp is located in a valley just below the Breach and the rather impressive looking Great Barranco Wall. Enjoy the magnificent sunset while you wait for your cook to finish preparing a well deserved dinner and the porters get your tents ready for a night of rest in sub zero temperatures. Stay overnight at Barranco Campsite.
Altitude: 3850 m – 4600 m – 3950 m
Hiking time: app. 7 hours
Distance: 14 – 15 km
Habitat: Semi desert and rocky terrain
Optional: Extra acclimatization day
If you like, and we highly recommend this as it improves your chances of success by 75%, day 5 can be spent as an acclimatization day. On this day you will walk from Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp. It will take around 4 hours over 7km through Alpine Desert. Your guide will use this walk to assess your strength and stamina for the summit ahead. This also assists your guide in determining the pace you should summit at and what time to wake up to begin hiking for the summit. This evening you will be sleeping at altitude, at around 4200 meters above sea level. On day 5, you will only ascend by 360 meters, hence giving you sufficient time to acclimatize.
Day 5: BARRANCO CAMP- BARAFU CAMP
After breakfast you will leave Barranco camp and make your way up the Great Barranco Wall – this part of the climb looks far worse than it really is – remember this when you start this climb! From the Great Barranco Wall you will then descend through the Karanga Valley over intervening ridges and valleys, to the junction that connects with the Mweka route. Make sure you fill up with water in the Karanga valley as there will be no water at Barafu camp where you will be spending part of the night. Carry your water in a thermal flask otherwise it will freeze later.
Mweka is the preferred route down from the summit, so make a mental note to remember it. From this junction it will take you almost another hour to reach Barafu Hut. At an altitude of 4560 meters, your tents are pitched on a narrow, stony, and dangerous ridge and are exposed to all the elements – you can bank on gale force winds and a freezing night out here. At camp, your guide will advise you to familiarize yourself with your surroundings before dark, as you will be leaving at midnight to make the final ascent to the summit, and you won’t want to be caught stumbling around or causing an accident on this ridge at this stage.
You will also need to spend some time preparing your equipment for your summit attempt. Ensure that headlamp and camera batteries are in order and make sure you have spare sets of batteries available as well. Make sure you are in bed by 19h00 – you will only have 4½ hours before your wake up call so it’s important to get as much sleep as possible before. Stay overnight at Barafu Campsite.
Altitude: 3950 m- 4560 m
Hiking time: 7 hours
Distance: app. 13 km
Habitat: Alpine desert
Day 6: BARAFU CAMPSITE- STELLA POINT- UHURU PEAK- MWEKA CAMPSITE
Today will by far be your toughest day of climb, you will rise around 23h30, and after some tea and biscuits you head off into the night towards Stella Point on the crater rim. The walk to Stella point is for many climbers probably the most mentally and physically challenging part of the entire route. You will be hiking about 6 hours to get to Stella Point – here you will stop for a rest and if the weather is kind, you will see a truly magnificent African sunrise. Departing from Stella Point, you will more than likely be walking through snow for the next 2 hour, when you will finally reach the summit of Uhuru Peak at 5895 meters.
Don’t get too relaxed and spend too much time on the summit, even if the weather is good. Cold and fatigue will set in quickly and you may find it very difficult to get started again. So spend a little time to enjoy the fact that you have conquered Kilimanjaro, get the camera out and take some pictures, then it will be best that you get moving again – it’s a long way down!
The first part of your descent to Barafu will take almost another 3 hours. Here you will stop for a short rest before heading down to Mweka hut – it takes an average of 5 hours to work your way down the rock and scree path to the moorland and eventually back into the rain forest. Mweka camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. As usual your tents, dinner, and washing water will be prepared. Stay overnight at Mweka Campsite.
Altitude: 4560 m – 5895 m – 3100 m
Hiking time: 15 – 16 hours
Distance: 30 km
Habitat: Snow, Ice and Stoney scree
Day 7: MWEKA CAMP – MWEKA GATE – ARUSHA
After an early and well-deserved breakfast, it is a short 3-hour and scenic hike back to the Mweka Park gate, where you sign your name and enter your details in a register. To make your achievement official, you will receive a summit certificate. If you reached Stella Point you will be presented with a green certificate, and if you made it all the way to Uhuru Peak you will have earned yourself a gold certificate. And then drive back to Arusha where you will stay at your hotel. Take some time out for a bit of celebrating before getting a decent night’s rest in a comfortable bed. Stay overnight at Arusha.
Altitude: 3100 m – 1970 m
Hiking time: 3 hours
Distance: About 15 km
Day 8: BACK HOME
Our staff will transfer you back to (JRO) OR Kilimanjaro International airport for your onward flights to Zanzibar, Dar Es Salaam or Arusha for your national parks safari.
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