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The Machame Route | Kilimanjaro National Park

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Approaching Mount Kilimanjaro from the southwest, the Machame Route is the second most popular of the Kilimanjaro routes. It is also known as the “Whiskey Route Kilimanjaro" since it is more arduous than the “Coca Cola” (Marangu) route owing to its longer and steeper walks, and lack of sleeping huts.

Higher success rate than Marangu

Beginning at the south-west side of the mountain, the route takes around six days to complete; however, seven days is advised for a day should spent for acclimatization for safety reasons and for a higher probability of a successful summit.

Climbers will sleep in designated campsites in tents. Trekkers have two options to reach Uhuru Peak. Majority of the trekkers choose the long Barafu Trail that offer the scenic view of the Rebmann Glacier. The other route is on the Western Breach Route, which is more thrilling and traverses through Lava tower and the Arrow Glacier.

Scenic beauty and sheer diversity

The trail starts off by traversing through the lush, green rainforest to the moorlands and then to dry and dusty Shira Plateau. After climbing up to the Uhuru Peak in the Arctic climate zone, the descent is made on the steep Mweka Route, which allows trekkers to experience the dry mountain desert and the lowland forest. So, take this route if you want a more challenging and scenically varied trail to the mountain and don’t mind crowds.

Machame Route Ratings

Trek Difficulty:

Moderate – Difficult   Scenery: Incredibly beautiful
Success Rate: Medium to High   Price: Moderately expensive
Max Altitude: 5,895 metes   Popularity:

Most popular route 

attracting 45% of the climbers

Trek Duration: 7 Days   Difficulty: Moderately difficult
Best Season: Round the Year   Crowds: Very crowded
Accommodation:

Camping

     
Views from Machame Route in Kilimanjaro National Park
Views from Machame Route in Kilimanjaro National Park

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Immensely beautiful
  • Medium to high success rate
  • Option to split pre-summit climb into two days
  • Stunning scenery encompassing four climatic zones
  • Great for acclimatization as you climb high and sleep low

Cons

  • Extremely crowded, particularly at Barranco
  • Only offers fully catered camping

Top Machame Route Tours

Machame Route Itinerary

The following is a sample Machame Route itinerary. The actual itinerary may vary slightly from one agency to the other.

Day 1 – Trek to Machame Camp (4 – 6 hours)

Trekking starts at the Machame Gate, located at a height of 1640 meters. En-route your drive to the gate, you also get to see beautiful examples of subsistence farming.

Begin the ascent from the southwest of the mountain and end trekking at Machame Camp (2,835 meters), located close to the part of the mountain where the rainforest zone gives way to the low alpine zone.

Day 2 – Trek to Shira Camp (4 – 5 hours)

The trek to Shira Camp (3,850 meters) is quite steep. Located in the low alpine zone, this area is dominated by grasslands and moorlands. The camp sits beautifully on a plateau offering phenomenal views of Kibo and Mount Meru.

Barafu Camp
Barafu Camp

Day 3 – Trek to Barranco Camp via the Lava Tower (4 – 6 hours)

Day three takes you through the ‘Garden of the Senecios’ all the way to Shark’s Tooth and Lava Tower. Your descent begins at a height of 4600 meters until you finally reach Barranco Camp at 3900 meters. A majestic example of Kilimanjaro’s rich history, the Lava Tower boasts of unimaginable views of the Uhuru Peak from its summit. 

You won’t be able to climb the tower any longer due to safety concerns, the surrounding beauty is still worth the effort.

Day 4 – Trek to Barafu Camp via Karana Valley (7 – 8 hours)

This long and grueling day involves trekking up the Barranco Wall, followed by climbing up and down the mountain slopes till you reach Karanga Camp (3960 meters).

Those who opt for a six-day trek, usually stop at Karanga Camp for lunch and continue along the Southern Circuit till it joins the Mweka Trail. Those on a seven-day trek spend the night at Karanga before heading to Barafu.

Barafu Camp is your final stop, where you’re served an early dinner, in preparation for the summit trek which begins at the stroke of midnight.

Uhuru peak
Uhuru peak

Day 5 – Trek to the Summit and on to Mweka Camp (11 – 14 hours)

This is the day you’ve been waiting for. You force your body to start trekking around midnight, but despite the long and weary journey, you feel very excited, rejuvenated even.

The trek up to Kibo is long and slow. It takes between 6 – 8 hours to get to the top. You reach a sign for Stella Point at 5,739 meters and the summit of Kilimanjaro is another 156 meters from here. Make sure you rest for a bit at Stella Point and dig into some hot chocolate.

Around dawn, head up to the summit for some of the best views you’ll ever see in your life. Remember though, the descent can be grueling. Make sure you have gaiters and trekking poles to assist you.

Day 6 – Back to Moshi (3 – 4 hours)

You’re weary and tired after that long summit trek. You desperately need a hot shower. But you still have some way to go before you head down to Mweka Gate, certificate in hand (green for Stella Point, gold for Uhuru Peak) and a smile on your face.

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