7 Days Machame Route

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Tour Overview

Known as the "Whiskey" route, the Machame route is now the most popular route on the mountain. Compared with Marangu, the days on Machame are longer and the walks are steeper. The Machame route is considered a difficult route, and is better suited for more adventurous folks and those with some hiking or backpacking experience.

The route begins from the south, then heads east, traversing underneath Kilimanjaro's southern ice field before summiting. The minimum number of days required for this route is six days, although seven days is recommended.

Day 1 - Machame Gate (1830 m/6000 ft) - Machame Huts (3030 m/9940 ft)

Walking distance: 5.5 km/3.5 miles
Walking time: 5-7 hours
Altitude gain: 1200 m/3940 ft

Your first day on Kilimanjaro starts with the transfer in the morning from your hotel to the village of Machame and the Machame gate. At the gate you will meet your guides and porters, you need to complete the registration formalities, and then you are off.Your equipment has been distributed amongst the porters and they are already ahead of you. (If not, they'll overtake you soon.)

The forest is beautiful, a real fairytale forest, lush and deep and green, albeit misty. (That's why it's also called "cloud forest". It's always in the clouds.) Moss and lichen are dangling from the tall branches, tree ferns shelter underneath and impatiens and violas are flowering on the ground. It's about two and a half hours to a lunch stop in a clearing near a stream. And after lunch the same again, much through the same terrain, until you get to the Machame Huts Camp, your stop for the night.

Day 2 - Machame Huts - New Shira Camp (3850 m/12630 ft)

Walking distance: 5.5 km/3.5 miles
Walking time: 4-6 hours
Altitude gain: 820 m/2690 ft

The Machame Huts marked the altitude where the montane forest gives way to the giant heathers of the moorland zone. The vegetation has opened up and, weather permitting, you will have great views. You can see Kibo, Mt. Meru in the distance and also Machame way down below as you make your way up towards the Shira Plateau.

The trail is much steeper today, especially until you reach your lunch stop, after lunch it should take only an hour or so to reach the edge of the Shira Plateau, and from there your camp is not far. Your tent tonight will definitely be "a room with a view" Kibo, the Western Breach, the Shira Cathedral, the Needle. And whether it's coincidence or not, many of the best sunset shots from Kilimanjaro seem to have been taken from here.

Day 3 - New Shira Camp - via Lava Tower (4640 m/15220 ft) - Barranco Huts (3985 m/13070 ft)

Walking distance: 10 km/6.2 miles
Walking time: 5-7 hours
Altitude gain: 135 m/440 ft (790 m/2590 ft to Lava Tower)

Today is a long day. The first part of the day is spent climbing up towards the Lava Tower, a 100 m/300 ft volcanic plug, left over from times when Kilimanjaro was volcanic. It's a gentle slope and as you climb towards it the landscape becomes sparser still. Even the short heather disappears altogether to reveal the rocky ground of the lava ridges.

After a much deserved lunch break near the Lava Tower you descend into the beautiful Barranco Valley, the result of a massive landslide some 100,000 years ago. The valley is sheltered by towering cliffs and is much greener. The senecios and lobelias are back. You have great views across the plains way below and you also get your first glimpse of the Barranco Wall. You will climb it tomorrow. The Barranco Camp where dinner will be served is without a doubt the most spectacular campsite of this route, with fantastic views of Kibo, the Western Breach and the first of the southern glaciers, a fitting reward after a strenuous day.

Day 4 - Barranco Huts - Karanga Camp (4040 m/13255 ft)

Walking distance: 5.5 km/3.5 miles
Walking time: 4-5 hours
Altitude gain: 55 m/185 ft

Today, first thing in the morning, you will tackle the Barranco Wall. It is strenuous to climb because the air is already so thin and it is very steep. And if you never set foot on any mountain in your life it may in places appear a little precarious. But in no way does it require climbing experience.

The wall is exposed and you will use your hands to steady yourself, but you can pretty much walk all the way to the top. Only at a few points do you need to scramble. Don't forget to turn around every now and then and admire the views, including the line of climbers/ants behind you.

You'll have a short break to enjoy the stunning views, and then it's down again on a much gentler slope. From here it's another couple of hours over volcanic scree and through several small, sheltered valleys until you reach the Karanga Valley Camp. The narrow and steep Karanga Valley is a green oasis, albeit a cold, windy one. The camp is on the other side of the valley (another climb) and you can spend the afternoon resting, exploring, or chasing that perfect picture of one of the iridescent, malachite sunbirds that live here.

Day 5 - Karanga Camp - Barafu Huts (4680 m/15360 ft)

Walking distance: 3.5 km/ 2.2 miles
Walking time: 4-5 hours
Altitude gain: 640 m/2105 ft

The walk today is short. You leave the Karanga Valley on an easy but steep path, through an increasingly inhospitable landscape, with the Southern Glaciers looming to your left. The path keeps getting steeper until you reach the Barafu Camp for lunch.

This is the benefit of having the extra night at Karanga in your schedule. You have plenty of time to eat, rest and recover, prepare everything for the summit attempt, maybe even go on a short acclimatisation walk, eat some more, and then have an early night. Tonight is the night. Barafu Camp has an otherworldy feel to it, perched on an exposed ridge in a bleak and barren landscape. Do familiarize yourself with the area before the sun goes down. It is quite possible to simply step of the edge if you have to stumble around in the dark to find the toilet.

Day 6 - Summit attempt via Stella Point (5752 m/18871 ft) to Uhuru Peak (5895 m/19340 ft) and descent via Mweka Route to Millenium Camp (3820 m/12530 ft) (or to Mweka Hut)

Walking distance: 5 km/3 miles ascent + 10 km/6.2 miles descent
Walking time: 5-6 hrs + 1-2 hours up, 5-6 hours down (the overall walking time may vary from 10 - 16 hours)
Altitude gain: 1072 m/ 3511 ft (Stella Point) or 1215 m/3980 ft (Uhuru Peak)
Descent: 2075 m/6810 ft

Your day pack should be ready with everything you will need tonight, make sure everything you are wearing is bone dry. This day will likely go down in your memory as the most physically challenging day in your whole life. Likely it will also be one of the earliest starts you ever made.

You will wake up some time between 11 pm and 1 pm. There will be some hot drinks and maybe some food, but mostly it's a matter of crawling out of your sleeping bag, putting on a few more layers of clothes, your boots and your head torch. Grab your day pack and off you go. You may feel horrible. Don't push yourself too hard. Take all the time you need and for goodness sake don't let anyone pressure you into moving faster than you feel comfortable to. Steady, steady, one tiny little step after the other.

Successfully you will reach the UHURU PEAK! What you just accomplished is truly impressive and no matter what you expected, the reality of it will be totally different. Some people get very emotional, some are on a big high, some are so dazed, they barely take any notice at all. There is no way to describe or imagine the experience of climbing to nearly 6000 m altitude. You now have to drag yourself back to Stella Point. From there it's nearly 1100 m down, down, down. Until you get back to Barafu. The descent is cruel on the knees and you will appreciate the walking poles.

Lunch should be waiting for you at Barafu. You just want to collapse and sleep; you can not imagine getting up from that chair again. But after what you have done to your body today it is not safe to remain at this altitude. You have no choice but to pack up your gear and keep going, the sooner the better. Down and down you go, for several more hours, to Millenium Camp or Mweka Huts.

Day 7 - Millenium Camp - Machame Gate

Walking distance: 20 km/12.5 miles
Walking time: 5 hours
Descent: 1990 m/6530 ft

After beakfast you set off, through some really pretty forest with lots of birdlife. Try to muster some interest. It may distract from the pain.

Once you get to the gate you'll have to endure some more formalities, but eventually you will say good bye to your guides (a sad and emotional moment), climb into the vehicle waiting for you and be whisked away to your hotel for hot showers and cold beers.

Rescue fee
Park fees (For non-residents)
All activities (Unless labeled as optional)
All accommodation (Unless listed as upgrade)
Camping equipment (Sleeping bag excluded)
A professional driver/guide
All transportation (Unless labeled as optional)
All Taxes/VAT
Roundtrip airport transfer
Meals (As specified in the day-by-day section)
Drinking water (On all days
Climbing gear
International flights (From/to home)
Additional accommodation before and at the end of the tour
Sleeping bag
Bath towels
Tips (Tipping guideline US$10.00 pp per day)
Personal items (Souvenirs, travel insurance, visa fees, etc.)
Government imposed increase of taxes and/or park fees

This tour starts and ends in Arusha
Book your own international flights when using this operator help
A transfer from and back to the airport (or hotel) is included
Additional accommodation before and at the end of the tour can be arranged for an extra cost

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