Machame Route

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania

The Machame route, also known as the “Whiskey” route, is the most popular route on Kilimanjaro. Machame’s draw is in its scenic beauty. However, the trail is considered difficult, steep and challenging, particularly due to its shorter itinerary. Therefore this route is better suited for more adventurous folks or those with some high altitude, hiking or backpacking experience.

The route approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the south after a short trip by car (around 30 minutes) to Machame Gate. From there its a steep and tough trek through the rain forest to Shira Ridge. Then the route traverses underneath Kilimanjaro’s Southern Ice Field on a path known as the Southern Circuit before summiting from Barafu Camp. Descent is made via the Mweka route.

Tanzania Horizon Safaris offers Machame as a seven day group climb or as a six day private climb. The six day variation combines days four and five, going from Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp without staying at Karanga Camp.

The drive from Moshi to the Machame Gate takes about 1 hrs. 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.

● Machame Gate to Machame Camp
● Elevation: 5,380 ft to 9,350 ft
● Distance: 11 km/7 miles
● Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
● Habitat: Rain Forest

 

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 Camp.

● Machame Camp to Shira Camp
● Elevation: 9,350 ft to 12,500 ft
● Distance: 5 km/3 miles
● Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
● Habitat: Heath

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.

● Machame Camp to Shira Camp
● Elevation: 12,500 ft to 15,190 ft
● Distance: 7 km/4 miles
● Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
● Habitat: Alpine Desert

● Lava Tower to Barranco Camp
● Elevation: 15,190 ft to 13,044 ft
● Distance: 3 km/2 miles
● Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
● Habitat: Alpine Desert

Our day starts by descending into the Great Barranco, a huge ravine. We then exit steeply, up the Great Barranco Wall, which divides us from the southeastern slopes of Kibo. It’s a climb over rock, not technical, but long and tiring. Passing underneath the Heim and Kersten glaciers, we head towards the Karanga valley, which is our last stop for fresh water before the summit. Scree now forms the terrain as we walk through arid and desolate land towards Barafu camp.

● Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp
● Distance: 8 km/5.3 miles
● Hiking Time: 7-8 hours
● Habitat: Arctic

Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physicallychallenging 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.

● Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak
● Elevation: 15,331 ft to 19,341 ft
● Distance: 5 km/3 miles
● Hiking Time: 7-8 hours
● Habitat: Arctic

● Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp
● Elevation: 19,341 ft to 10,065 ft
● Distance: 12 km/7 miles
● Hiking Time: 4-6 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 Moshi Town.

● Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
● Elevation: 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft
● Distance: 10 km/6 miles
● Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
● Habitat: Rain Forest

One hour’s drive from Moshi to Machame gate, where we complete park formalities, meet our crew of porters and start to climb! The first section of the route climbs steadily and passes through magnificent, dense rainforest. This path is less welltrodden so it can get somewhat overgrown in places and it is often wet and muddy underfoot.

● Distance covered: 10.8km / 6.7mi
● Approx. time taken: 6 hours
● Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

 

Our route continues on up through the forest until we reach the steep ascent onto the Shira Plateau, where there are rewarding views of the mountain. Looking back, you will be able to see Mt Meru rising high above Arusha town in the distance.

● Distance covered: 5.4km / 3.4mi
● Approx. time taken: 5 hours
● Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

Walking now on high moorland, the landscape changes the entire character of the trek. We traverse the southwest side of Kilimanjaro, passing underneath the Lava Tower and the final section of the Western Breach and finally reach camp The day has been spent at altitude (up to 4600m), but we have followed the mountaineering code of ‘walk high, sleep low’ to aid your body’s acclimatization to altitude.

● Distance covered: 10.8km / 6.7mi
● Approx. time taken: 8 hrs
● Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

Our day starts by descending into the start of the Great Barranco, a huge ravine. We thenexit steeply, up the Great Barranco Wall, which divides us from the southeastern slopes of Kibo. It’s a climb over rock, not technical but long and tiring. Passing underneath the Heim and Kersten glaciers, we head towards the Karanga valley. From here we have a steep climb up from Karanga valley to our night’s camp at Karanga camp, set at 3963m. For those feeling strong we will go for a mid-afternoon acclimatization trek up to around 4200m before descending back to camp for the night.

● Distance covered: 5.5km / 3.4mi
● Approx. time taken: 5 hours
● Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

After a good night’s rest and breakfast, we set off on our walk to Barafu camp at 4640m. The climb will take us across desolate scree slopes with no vegetation around us at all. It’s a tough steep walk made more difficult by the altitude. On arriving at camp we eat and spend the afternoon resting as we prepare for a long night and day ahead. It is important to keep hydrated and warm. We have an early dinner and then try to get some sleep as we will be getting up at between 11pm and 12pm to start the climb to the summit.

● Distance covered: 3km / 1.9mi
● Approx. time taken: 3 hours
● Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

We start off at around midnight, and walk steeply upwards to the summit glaciers. We will be climbing scree for 4 to 5 hours but gain incredible height over a short distance. The views are spectacular. We should be on the crater rim at Stella Point (5739m) as the first rays of the sun hit us. Spectacular ice cliffs within the crater surround us and the views to jagged Mawenzi peak and beyond are breathtaking.

Another hour’s walking takes us to the summit, Uhuru Peak (5895m). We begin our descent by returning to Stella Point and then descending on scree slope and track back to Barafu Camp for breakfast, before finally heading down to Millennium Camp for a long well-earned rest.

● Distance covered: 13.4km / 8.3mi
● Approx. time taken: 12 – 15 hours
● Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

A gentle trek takes us down through the rain forest to Mweka Gate, where we complete park formalities and receive certificates, which you can hang up with pride! We are then met by our vehicles and return to the hotel in Moshi, where you can treat yourself to a welcome hot shower.

● Distance covered: 12.1km / 7.5mi
● Approx. time taken: 6 hours
● Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

– Lunches, dinners and drinks at your hotel before and after climb.
– Travel insurance
– Portable flush toilet with a toilet tent is available for extra charges $ 80 for the entire trek.
– Flights
– Laundry (Available at hotel)
– Personal items and toiletries
– Tips for guides, porters and cook (this is a guide to tipping on the mountain)

– Lunches, dinners and drinks at your hotel before and after climb.
– Travel insurance
– Portable flush toilet with a toilet tent is available for extra charges $ 80 for the entire trek.
– Flights
– Laundry (Available at hotel)
– Personal items and toiletries
– Tips for guides, porters and cook

(not per person, its per group):

• Guides: $20/day/guide
• Cook: $15/day
• Porter: $10/day/porter

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Hikers at the summit sign of Uhuru Peak, Kibo, Kilimanjaro at 5895m amsl in Tanzania. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa. Sunrise, people in shadow, not recognizable. Photo cross processed.
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