Known as the “Whiskey” route, the Machame route is now the most popular route on themountain. 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.
The Machame route is scenically beautiful and varied. However, due to the heavy crowds, it loses some of its splendor.
Day 1 Machame Gate to Machame Camp; Elevation (ft): 5,380 ft to 9,350 ft; Distance: 11 km; Hiking Time: 5-7 hours; Habitat: Rain Forest
The drive from Moshi to Machame Gate takes about 50 minutes. The journey passes through the village of Machame which is located on the lower slopes of the mountain. We now leave the park gate and walk through the rain forest on a winding trail up a ridge. Lower down, the trail can be muddy and slippery. We continue a short distance until we reach the Machame Camp.
Day 2 Machame Camp to Shira Camp; Elevation (ft): 9,350 ft to 12,500 ft; Distance: 5 km; Hiking Time: 4-6 hours; Habitat: Heath.
After breakfast, we leave the glades of the rain forest and continue on an ascending path, crossing the little valley walking along a steep rocky ridge, covered with heather, until the ridge ends. The route now turns west onto a river gorge. Time for rest, dinner, and overnight at the Shira campsite.
Day 3 Shira Camp to Lava Tower to Barranco Camp; Elevation (ft): 12,500 ft to 15,190 ft to 13,044 ft; Distance: 10 km; Hiking Time: 6-8 hours; Habitat: Alpine Desert
From the Shira Plateau, we continue east up a ridge, passing the junction towards the peak of Kibo. As we walk, our direction changes to the southeast towards Lava Tower, called the “Shark’s Tooth.” Shortly after, we come to the second junction which brings us near Arrow Glacier at an altitude of 16,000 ft. We now continue down to Barranco Hut at an altitude of 13,044 ft. Although we end the day at the same elevation as we started, this day is very important for acclimatization and will help prepare for summit day.
Day 4 Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp; Elevation (ft): 13,044 ft to 13,106 ft; Distance: 5km; Hiking Time: 4-5 hours; Habitat: Alpine Desert.
Our first challenge is a climb and scramble over the volcanic rock of the 1,200 ft Barranco Wall. On reaching the top, we have a well earned lunch break and enjoy fantastic views of Barafu and Mount Meru. We continue across the ridges and valleys to the Karanga Valley campsite. This is a short day meant for acclimatization
Day 5 Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp; Elevation (ft): 13,106 ft to 15,331 ft; Distance: 4 km; Hiking Time: 4-5 hours; Habitat: Alpine Desert.
After breakfast, we leave Karanga and hit the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. We continue up to Barafu Hut. At this point, we have completed the Southern Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here we make camp, rest, enjoy an early dinner, and prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are visible from this site.
Day 6 Barafu Camp to Uhuru Point to Mweka Hut; Elevation (ft): 15,331 ft to 19,341 ft to 10,065 ft; Distance: 17 km; Hiking Time: 11-14 hours; Habitat: Arctic.
Very early in the morning (midnight), we put on many layers of clothing and begin our climb to the summit. We head in a northwesterly direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. At Stella Point (18,600 ft), we stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see.
From Stella Point, we have just one more hour before reaching the summit. At Uhuru Peak, you have reached the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa. Faster hikers will see the sunrise from the summit. From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.
Day 7 Mweka Camp to Moshi; Elevation (ft): 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft; Distance: 10 km; Hiking Time: 3-4 hours; Habitat: Rain Forest.
After breakfast, we continue the descent down to the Mweka Park Gate to receive your 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 you at Mweka village to drive you back to hotel in Moshi for hot shower.