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Mount Kilimanjaro Machame Route

The Machame route, also known as the “Whiskey” route, is one of the most popular routes on Kilimanjaro. Machame attraction is in its scenic beauty. However, the trail is considered difficult, steep, and challenging, particularly due to its shorter itinerary. This route is better suited for more adventurous folks or those with some high altitude, hiking or backpacking experience.

The route approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the south. The path leads hikers through the rainforest to Shira Plateau. Here, many of Kilimanjaro’s routes converge. Then the route turns east and travers underneath Kilimanjaro’s Southern Ice Field on a path known as the Southern Circuit

Difficulty: Medium,  Duration:  6-8 days, Success rate: High

Highlights Considerations

✓ Good acclimatization – Can get crowded
✓ High success rates – Some parts are difficult
✓ Beautiful scenery
✓ Varying landscapes
✓ Variety of terrains

ROUTE PROGRAM

Day 1: Machame Gate, Hike to Machame Camp

After breakfast, we drive from Moshi to Machame Gate takes about 45 minutes. The journey passes through the village of Machame which is located on the lower slopes of the mountain.

We depart the park gate and walk through the rainforest on a winding trail up a ridge. At lower elevations the trail can be muddy and slippery. Gaiters and trekking poles are a good idea here. We continue a short distance until we reach the Machame Camp.

Machame Gate to Machame Camp
Elevation: 1,640m/5,380ft to 2,850m/9,350ft
Distance: 11km/7miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Zone: Rainforest

Day 2: Machame Camp to Shira 2 Camp

After breakfast we leave the glades of the rainforest and continue on an ascending path, crossing the valley along a steep rocky ridge. The route now turns west onto a river gorge until we arrive at the Shira campsite.

Machame Camp to Shira 2 Camp
Elevation: 3,050m/9,950ft to 3,850m/12,600ft
Distance: 5km/3miles
Walking Time: 4-6 hours
Zone: Heath

Day 3: Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower to Barranco Camp

From the Shira Plateau we continue to the east up a ridge, passing the junction towards the peak of Kibo. As we continue, our direction changes to the South East towards the Lava Tower, called the “Shark’s Tooth” (elevation 4,650m/15,250ft). Shortly after the tower we come to the second junction which goes to the Arrow Glacier. We now continue down to the Barranco Camp. Although you end the day around the same elevation as when you began, this day is very important for acclimatization and will help your body prepare for summit day.

Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower
Elevation: 3,810m/12,500ft to 4,630m/15,190ft
Distance: 7km/4miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Zone: Alpine Desert

Lava Tower to Barranco Camp
Elevation: 4,630m/15,190ft to 3,976m/13,044ft
Distance: 3km/2miles
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Zone: Alpine Desert

Day 4: Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp

After breakfast, we leave Barranco and continue on a steep ridge up the Barranco Wall (elevation 4,250m/13,900ft), through the Karanga Valley (elevation 4,050m/13,250ft) to the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. We continue up to the Barafu Camp. We have completed the South Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here we make camp with views of the summit in the distance.

Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp
Elevation: 3,976m/13,044ft to 4,700m/15,350ft
Distance: 9km/6miles
Hiking Time: 6-8 hours
Zone: Alpine Desert

Day 5 : Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak, down to Mweka Camp

Very early in the morning (midnight to 2 am), we continue our way to the summit between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers. 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 we will stop for a short rest and be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see.

Faster hikers may view the sunrise from the summit. From Stella Point, we may encounter snow all the way on our 1-hour ascent to the summit. Once at Uhuru Peak you have reached the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa! From the summit we begin our descent by continuing straight down to the Mweka Camp, stopping at Barafu for lunch. You may want gaiters and trekking poles for the loose gravel going down. We arrive at Mweka Camp and enjoy our last evening on the mountain.

Barafu to Summit
Elevation: 4,700m/15,350ft to 5,895m/19,340ft
Distance: 5km/3miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours up / 5-6 hours down
Zone: Stone scree and ice-capped summit

Descent to Mweka Camp
Elevation: 5,895m/19,340ft to 3,090m/10,150ft
Distance: 13km/8miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Zone: Rainforest

Day 6: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate

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. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be enough to wear (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy). Our vehicle will be waiting for us at Mweka Village to drive you back to your hotel in Moshi (about 30 minutes)

Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
Elevation: 3,090m/10,150ft to 1,680m/5,500ft
Distance: 10km/6miles
Hiking Time: 3-5 hours
Zone: Forest

Congratulations!

ROUTE PROGRAM

Day 1: Machame Gate, Hike to Machame Camp

After breakfast, we drive from Moshi to Machame Gate takes about 45 minutes. The journey passes through the village of Machame which is located on the lower slopes of the mountain.

We depart the park gate and walk through the rainforest on a winding trail up a ridge. At lower elevations the trail can be muddy and slippery. Gaiters and trekking poles are a good idea here. We continue a short distance until we reach the Machame Camp.

Machame Gate to Machame Camp
Elevation: 1,640m/5,380ft to 2,850m/9,350ft
Distance: 11km/7miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Zone: Rainforest

Day 2: Machame Camp to Shira 2 Camp

After breakfast we leave the glades of the rainforest and continue on an ascending path, crossing the valley along a steep rocky ridge. The route now turns west onto a river gorge until we arrive at the Shira campsite.

Machame Camp to Shira 2 Camp
Elevation: 3,050m/9,950ft to 3,850m/12,600ft
Distance: 5km/3miles
Walking Time: 4-6 hours
Zone: Heath

Day 3: Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower to Barranco Camp

From the Shira Plateau we continue to the east up a ridge, passing the junction towards the peak of Kibo. As we continue, our direction changes to the South East towards the Lava Tower, called the “Shark’s Tooth” a 91m/300ft tall volcanic rock formation. Shortly after the tower we come to the second junction which goes to the Arrow Glacier. We now continue down to the Barranco Camp through a beautiful Senecio Forest. Although you end the day around the same elevation as when you began, this day is very important for acclimatization and will help your body prepare for summit day.

Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower
Elevation: 3,810m/12,500ft to 4,630m/15,190ft
Distance: 7km/4miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Zone: Alpine Desert

Lava Tower to Barranco Camp
Elevation: 4,630m/15,190ft to 3,976m/13,044ft
Distance: 3km/2miles
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Zone: Alpine Desert

Day 4: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp

After breakfast, we begin the day by descending into a ravine to the base of the Great Barranco Wall. Then we climb a steep nearly 274m/900ft cliff. From the top of the Barranco Wall we cross a series of hills and valleys until we descend sharply into Karanga Valley. One more steep climb up leads us to Karanga Camp. This is a shorter day meant for acclimatization and rest.

Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
Elevation: 3,976m/13,044ft to 3,995m/13,106ft
Distance: 5km/3miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Day 5 : Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp 

After breakfast, we leave Karanga and hit the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. We continue up to the rocky section 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 and enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are viewable from this position.

Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp 
Elevation: 3,995m/13,106ft to 4,673m/15,331ft
Distance: 4km/2miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Zone: Alpine Desert

Day 6: Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak

Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. Near Stella Point (5,761m/18,900ft), we will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, we arrive at Uhuru Peak the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak
Elevation: 4,673m/15,331ft to 5,895m/19,341ft
Distance: 5km/3miles
Hiking Time: 7-9 hours
Zone: Arctic

From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp
Elevation: 5,895m/19,341ft to 3,068m/10,065ft
Distance: 12km/7miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Zone: Rainforest

Day 7: Mweka Camp to to Mweka Gate

On our last day after breakfast, we continue the descent to Mweka Gate and collect the 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 us at Mweka Village to drive us back to the hotel in Moshi.

Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
Elevation: 3,068m/10,065ft to 1,640m/5,380ft
Distance: 10km/6miles
Hiking Time: 3-5 hours
Zone: Rainforest

Congratulations!

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