Machame route

Highlights

  • Highly recommended route with best success rate.
  • Allows climbers to "walk high, sleep low" enabling better acclimatisation.
  • A challenging trek with stunning scenery over five climatic zones.
  • Ascent and descent via different routes.

Prices and availability

3D Google Earth route video

 

Animated route map

Animated Route Map

Summary

The Machame route is one of our most highly recommended routes to climb Kilimanjaro as it offers great acclimatisation, allowing the climber to "walk high, sleep low", and as a result enjoys one of the highest summit success rate of all the routes to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. It goes by the nickname of "The Whisky Route" although no whisky is available!

The Machame route approaches from the southwest, passing through Kilimanjaro's five diverse climatic zones with stunning views to the west across the Shira Plateau where it joins the Lemosho/Shira route on day 3. It then continues on to the magnificent Lava Tower, followed by the Great Barranco Wall and Kilimanjaro's Southern Icefield.

Some people are concerned about the short scramble up the Great Barranco Wall, but this really is not that tricky and you will be helped by your guide every step of the way. One stride around a rock outcrop is the most precarious part you will experience. Thousands of climbers safely travel this route each year, let alone the Kilimanjaro porters carrying heavy loads.

Owing to its high success rate the Machame route can be busy, but we ensure we hit the trail early to avoid the crowds. We also ensure that our porter team arrive into the designated campsites early so that your tent will be set up and ready for your arrival, together with a nice hot drink prepared by our team cook.

Although you can climb Kilimanjaro over 6 days via the Machame route we recommend taking 7 days. The reason for this is that it offers much better acclimatisation and allows the pre-summit day to be split into two which means that you have two shorter days trekking prior to your summit ascent. This really helps and has proved a great success and a more enjoyable way to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Open group climbs are available on this route. Check out availability here.

Itinerary

Day1Machame Gate to Machame Camp

Elevation (m): 1800m to 3000m, Distance: 11 km, Time: 5-7 hours, Habitat: Montane Forest.

Drive from the Hotel to Machame Gate for registration. Our porters prepare and pack the supplies and luggage before we start our ascent along the forest trail  through rain forest on a winding trail up a ridge to Machame Camp where we will camp overnight

Day2Machame Camp to Shira 1

Elevation (m): 3000m to 3850m, Distance: 9 km, Time: 4-6 hours, Habitat: Moorland.

Today we leave the rainforest behind, and continue climbing up into the moorland/low alpine zone to Shira camp.  The scenery is much sparser and barren now, with a few small flowers and also the rather unusual Giant Lobelias dotted along the way.  

Day3Shira 1 via Lava Tower to Barranco

Elevation (m): 3850m to 4600m to 3950m, Distance: 12 km, Time: 6-7 hours, Habitat: Semi-desert.

This will be our toughest day so far and we will start to feel the symptoms of altitude as the air gets thinner as we reach higher altitude.  We will climb up to 4600m to Lava Tower and stop and take a short rest and lunch there to acclimatise. Climbing up to this higher altitude before descending back down to our overnight camp at lower altitude will  help your body prepare for summit day.  There will be plenty of opportunities on our descent to take some photos of the Western Breach and Breach Wall. The camp is situated in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall, a great spot to watch the sun go down.

Day4Barranco to Barafu

Elevation (m): 3950m to 4600m, Distance: 13 km, Time: 6-7 hours, Habitat: Alpine Desert

We start today, with a short, but fun, scramble, to the top of the Great Barranco Wall.  We are now well above the cloud level with exhilarating views across the surrounding area.  We then traverse over scree ridges to the Karanga Valley (3930m) beneath the icefalls of the Heim, Kersten and Decken Glaciers. After climbing out of the Karanga Valley our trail ascends to Barafu Camp (4600m) where we will spend the night.

Day5Barafu to Summit to Mweka Camp

Elevation (m): 4600m to 5895m  to 3100m, Distance: 7 km ascent/23 km descent, Time: 6-8 hours ascent/6-7 hours descent, Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit/Alpine desert.

You will be woken at 23:30 with some quick tea and biscuits. We start our trek to the summit between the Rebman and Ratzel glaciers. We will head in a north-westerly direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. This is the most mentally and physically challenging part of the trek. At Stella Point (5732m), we will stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see . At Uhuru Peak (5895m), we will have reached the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa. It can be very cold at night at these elevations, but it will be quite warm by the end of the hiking day. From the summit, we descend down to the Mweka Hut camp site, via Barafu for lunch. Trekking poles will be needed for the loose gravel going down to Mweka Camp (3100m). Later in the evening, we will enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned rest.

Day6Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate

Elevation (m): 3100m to 1800m, Distance: 8 km, Time: 3-4 hours, Habitat: Montane Forest.

We descend down to the Mweka Park Gate to receive your summit certificates. 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).

1Machame Gate to Machame Camp

Elevation (m): 1800m to 3000m, Distance: 11 km, Time: 5-7 hours, Habitat: Montane Forest.

Drive from the Hotel to Machame Gate for registration. Our porters prepare and pack the supplies and luggage before we start our ascent along the forest trail  through rain forest on a winding trail up a ridge to Machame Camp where we will camp overnight.

2Machame Camp to Shira 1

Elevation (m): 3000m to 3850m, Distance: 9km, Time: 4-6 hours, Habitat: Moorland.

Today we leave the rainforest behind, and continue climbing up into the moorland/low alpine zone to Shira camp.  The scenery is much sparser and barren now, with a few small flowers and also the rather unusual Giant Lobelias dotted along the way.  

3Shira 1 via Lava Tower to Barranco

Elevation (m): 3850m to 4600m to 3950m, Distance: 12 km, Time: 6-7 hours, Habitat: Semi-desert.

This will be our toughest day so far and you may start to feel the symptoms of altitude as the air gets thinner as we reach higher altitude.  We will climb up to 4600m to Lava Tower and stop and take a short rest and lunch there to acclimatise. Climbing up to this higher altitude before descending back down to our overnight camp at lower altitude will  help your body prepare for summit day.  There will be plenty of opportunities on our descent to take some photos of the Western Breach and Breach Wall. The camp is situated in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall, a great spot to watch the sun go down.

4Barranco to Karanga

Elevation (m): 3950m to 3930m, Distance: 7 km, Time: 4 hours, Habitat: Alpine Desert.

We start today, with a short, but fun, scramble, to the top of the Great Barranco Wall.  We are now well above the cloud level with exhilarating views across the surrounding area.  Even though we will climb to higher altitude during the day, we will descend back down to the same altitude from which we started this morning to help us acclimatise.  We will spend the night in the slightly cooler air of the  Karanga Valley (3930m) beneath the icefalls of the Heim, Kersten and Decken Glaciers.

5Karanga to Barafu

Elevation (m): 3930m to 4600m, Distance: 6 km, Time: 3 hours, Habitat: Alpine Desert

We leave Karanga campsite behind to meet the junction connecting with the Mweka descent Trail. From here we continue up to the Barafu Hut. You have now completed the Southern Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. At camp, we can rest, enjoy dinner, and prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are to be clearly seen from this position.

6Barafu to Summit to Mweka Camp

Elevation (m): 4600m to 5895m to 3100m, Distance: 7 km ascent/23 km descent, Time: 6-8 hours ascent/6-7 hours descent, Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit/Alpine desert.

You will be woken at 23:30 with some quick tea and biscuits. We start our trek to the summit between the Rebman and Ratzel glaciers. We will head in a north-westerly direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. This is the most mentally and physically challenging part of the trek. At Stella Point (5732m), we will stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see.  At Uhuru Peak (5895m), we will have reached the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa. It can be very cold at night at these elevations, but it will be quite warm by the end of the hiking day. From the summit, we descend down to the Mweka Hut camp site, via Barafu for lunch. Trekking poles will be needed for the loose gravel going down to Mweka Camp (3100m). Later in the evening, we will enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned rest.

7Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate

Elevation (m): 3100m to 1800m, Distance: 8 km, Time: 3-4 hours, Habitat: Montane Forest.

We descend down to the Mweka Park Gate to receive your summit certificates. 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).

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