The Machame route on Mount Kilimanjaro is slightly more challenging than the other routes. The Machame route is also referred to as the whiskey route as it is considered to be more difficult and more intoxicating than the Marangu (Coca-Cola) route. The trek begins at Machame Gate in the Kilimanjaro rainforest and ascends through the forest on the South Western side of the mountain until it reaches the Shira Plateau, where you will enjoy stunning views across the Shira Plateau, Western Breach and Kibo. From the Shira Two camp you will hike across the plateau to the Barranco wall and then will follow the southern circuit path to Barafu Camp. The descent for the Machame route is via the Mweka route; this route is typically completed in 7 days allowing for good acclimatization.
Machame Gate (1,490 m) – Machame camp (3,000 m) Hiking time: 5-6h
The Machame Route trek starts with a drive from your hotel to the Machame Village where you will meet your porters. If there has been heavy rainfall and the road is too muddy, you may have to begin your trek from the village to the Machame Gate. After you have registered at the park office, you will start your ascent through the stunning rainforest and will stop for lunch in the rainforest before reaching the Machame camping area in the afternoon for your first night on Kilimanjaro.
Machame camp (3,000 m) – Shira 2 Camp (3,850 m) Hiking time: 4-5h
Day 2 begins with an hour’s trek to the top of the rainforest and into the moorland zone. You will break for lunch and then continue along the trail, up a rocky ridge and onto the Shira Plateau. This will be your first sighting of Kibo, the Western Breach and famous glacier for the first time. After a short hike to the west across the plateau, you will reach the Shira 2 campsite.
Shira Camp 2 (3,850 m) – Barranco Camp (3,950 m) Hiking time: 6-7h
Your first acclimatization day; the morning begins with trekking up a steepening path above the vegetation towards Kibo. You will leave the moorland zone and enter the rocky landscape of the alpine desert zone until you reach the prominent rock standing over one hundred feet tall called Lava Tower at 4,630m where you will stop for a hot lunch. From the Lava Tower you will then descend below the lower cliffs of the Western Breach to Barranco Camp. You may begin to feel the symptoms of altitude sickness during this acclimatization trek, ensure you drink plenty of water, eat well and rest in the evening.
Barranco Camp (3,950 m) – Karanga Camp (4,095 m) Hiking time: 4-5h
Day four begins with climbing the 300m high Barranco Wall. You will need to use your hands as you negotiate the large rocks and bolders of this face. The top of the wall is situated just below the Heim Glacier, where you can begin to appreciate the beauty and magnitude of Kilimanjaro and Kibo. You will once again descend, this time into the lush Karanga Valley to the Karanga Valley campsite. A hot lunch is served in camp and the afternoon is for resting or exploring the local area. This shorter day is designed to help with acclimatization and to rest before the build up to summit night.
Karanga Camp (4,095 m) – Barafu Camp (4,600 m) Hiking time: 4-5h
The route from Karanga to Barafu is a short, undulating walk which joins the Mweka Route trail which you will follow for your descent. The trail turns north towards Kibo where you will hike up the ridge to Barafu Hut camp where you will receive a hot lunch. The campsite is situated on a narrow, wind-swept ridge, so be careful when walking around camp after dark. Use the afternoon to prepare your rucksack and clothing for your summit climb. Ensure you drink plenty of water and after an early dinner, try to sleep and rest before the final trek to the summit – Uhuru Peak.
Day 6: Summit day!
Barafu Camp (4,600 m) – Uhuru Peak (5,895 m) – Mweka Camp (3,100 m) Hiking time: 10-14h
Summit Night! You will be woken at around 23:00, for tea and biscuits before you head off into the night. You will walk over scree and rocks for around 6 hours until you reach Stella Point (5,685 m) at the crater rim. This will be the most challenging part of the trek for most climbers with the highest chance of suffering from altitude sickness. From Stella Point you stop for a short rest before following the crater rim to Uhuru Peak the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Take in the view and ensure you have plenty of photographs before starting your descent back to Barafu Camp. After a short rest and some food you will hike down the rock and scree covered path to the moorland zone and into the rainforest to Mweka Camp.
Mweka Camp (3,100 m) – Mweka Gate (1,980 m) Hiking time: 3-4h
After your final breakfast on Kilimanjaro, there is a short, scenic, hike through the rainforest to Mweka park gate. This is where the climbers who reached Stella Point or Uhuru Peak will receive certificates. From the Mweka Gate, you will drive through the Mweka Village and back to your hotel for a celebratory drink and hot shower!