This is probably the most beautiful route up Kilimanjaro. Unlike Marangu where people sleep in huts the Machame route offers strictly tents only. This route is also referred to as the Whiskey route. Probably because it requires a hiker to be more strong and prepared, its better suited to the slightly more adventurous hiker, there are rewarding sceneries like the afternoon sunsets at Shira, the misty revelations of Kibo at the great Barranco Wall, this route offers the adventurous hiker a stunning scenic “slide show” in a short period of 6 days.
The big success secret offered in this route is by taking hikers high to Lava Tower (4630m) on the day 3 and brings them down by nearly 700m for an overnight at Barranco camp (3950m). The Machame route can also be completed in 5 days. If one goes directly to Kibo on day 3 with an overnight at the Arrow Glacier camp, attempting the summit on day 4.
It’s an extremely physical and mental demanding option, not recommended for the average climber.
Machame Gate (1490m) – Machame Camp (2980m).
The day starts early with a briefing, followed by breakfast a 1hr 45-minute drive from Arusha to Machame village (1490m). Total distance to be covered is 18kms in duration of 7hours.The guides and porters prepare and pack the supplies and your equipment in the village.
You get a lunch pack and you can also buy mineral water in the village. Depending on the condition of the road, it is possible to drive from the village to the Machame gate, but if not, the muddy 3 km walk will take about 1 hour to complete. After registering at the gate office, you start your ascent and enter the rain forest almost immediately. In most occasions, it rains turning the trails to muddy and slippery experience. You will have a welcome lunch stop about half way and will reach the Machame camping area in the late afternoon.
Your porters who in most cases are faster will have pitched your tent on your arrival. In the evening the porters will boil drinking and washing water and the cook will prepare dinner, before you retire to your tent for the night. Night temperatures can sometimes drop to freezing point at this campsite.
Machame Camp (2980m) – Shira Camp (3840m)
You rise early at Machame camp and after breakfast you climb an hour or so to the top of the forest and then for 2 hours at a gentler gradient through the moorland zone. After a little rest as you enjoy your lunch, you continue up a rocky ridge onto the Shira plateau.
You are now due west of Kibo and after a short hike you will reach the Shira campsite at 3840m. By the time you get here, you will have covered a distance of 9kms in about 6hours.The porters will boil drinking and washing water, before serving dinner. The night at this exposed camp will even be colder than the previous night, with temperatures dropping to well below freezing.
Shira (3840m) – Lava Tower (4630m)-Barranco camp (3950m).
This day looks the toughest day of all; the distance to be covered is 15kms in duration of about 7hours. After breakfast, the route now turns east into a semi desert and rocky landscape surrounding Lava Tower, where you reach an altitude of 4630m after about a 5 hours walk. Lunch is served in a designated area before ascending the rocky path to Lava Tower (4630m). It is normally around this point, where for the first time, some climbers will start to feel symptoms of breathlessness, irritability and headaches. After lunch you descent again by almost 680m to the Barranco camping area and after reaching the high altitude of 4600m at Lava Tower, the true secret of acclimatization becomes clear. This 2 hours descent to Barranco camp offers great opportunities to take some beautiful snap shots of the Western Breach and Breach Wall. The camp is situated in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall, which should provide you with a memorable as you wait for dinner.
Barranco Camp (3950m) – Barafu Camp (4550m).
Another 13kms journey to Barafu hut, estimated walking time of 7hours.After spending a night at the Great Barranco Wall, you make your way up this awesome looking obstacle, which in the end normally turns out easier than what you anticipated. Topping out just below the Heim Glacier, you now appreciate just how beautiful Kilimanjaro really is.
The route then heads down through the Karanga Valley over intervening ridges and valleys, and then joins up with the Mweka route. This is the preferred route down from the summit, so remember it. Turn left up the ridge and after another hour or so, you reach Barafu Hut. The last water stop on the route is the Karanga Valley, as there is no water at Barafu camp. Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice” and it is a bleak and inhospitable camping area to spend the night. Totally exposed to the ever-present gales the tents are pitched on a narrow, stony, and dangerous ridge. Make sure that you familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark to avoid any accidents.
The summit is now a further 1345m up and you will make the final ascent the same night. Prepare your equipment, ski stick and thermal clothing for your summit attempt. This should include the replacement of your headlamp and camera batteries and make sure you have a spare set available as well. To prevent freezing it will be wise to carry your water in a thermal flask. Go to bed at round about 1900hrs and try to get some precious rest and sleep.
Barafu Camp (4550m) – Uhuru Peak (5895m)-Mweka (3100m)
Hiking Time: 8 hours to reach Uhuru Peak | 7/8 hours to descend to Mweka
Distance: About 7 km’s ascent – 23 km’s descent
You will rise around 2330hrs, and after some tea and biscuits you set off into the night. You will head in a northwesterly direction and ascend through heavy terrain towards Stella Point on the crater rim. This 6-hour walk to Stella point is the most mentally and physically challenging part on the route. At Stella Point (5685m) you will stop for a short rest and if weather permits, amazing views of sunrise ever seen. From Stella Point you will normally encounter snow all the way on your 2-hour ascent up to Uhuru Peak. The time you will spend on the summit will depend on the weather conditions, its advisable to take the shortest time possible due to cold and fatigue. Enjoy your accomplishment and a day to remember for the rest of your life.
The walk back to Barafu from the summit, takes about 3 hours, take a short rest and head down to Mweka hut (3100m). Enjoy a good dinner as you marvel the wonders of Africa.
Mweka camp (3100m) – Mweka Gate (1980m)
Hiking time: 3 hours | Distance: About 15 kms
This is the last bit of the trip, it’s a 15kms walk. After an early and well-deserved breakfast, it is a short 3-hour and scenic hike back to the Park gate. At Mweka gate climbers receive their summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Stella Point (5685m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895m) receive gold certificates.
From the Mweka Gate another 3hours muddy walk takes you to Mweka village. Enjoy a delicious hot lunch. Drive back to Arusha for a long overdue hot shower, dinner and celebrations. Overnight at Sakina camp.
Trek price includes:
-Transfer to and from the base of the mountain
-Full board accommodation in whilst on the trek.
-1 night hotel accommodations in Moshi before the trek and in tents on the mountain as per the itinerary
-All park entrance fees to include government taxes
-Service of an English speaking professional Mountain guide on the mountain, porters and skilled cook
-All services begin from Nairobi and end at as per the itinerary
-Nairobi Return Shuttle transfers
Trek price Excludes:
-Tips, laundry, sleeping bags, drinks and climbing gears
-Travel insurance with evacuation fee
-International flights and taxes
-Items of a personal nature and any other extras not detailed in the above itinerary.
1. Sleeping bags
2. Hiking boots
3. Water proof jackets and pants(trousers)
4. Hand gloves
5. Warm clothing
6. At least 5 t –shirts
7. Extra Sport shoes or sandles
8. Warm fleece
10. Thermal suit
12. Hiking stick
• Please note; Number 1 can be hired at Ksh 500 per day
• Number 2-5 can be hired at Ksh 200 per day
• Number 5 to 9 – you can carry them with you
B. Personal effects
Note that a resident must present a resident card or alien card, they never consider waiting letter.