The Machame Route
The Machame Route, also called “Whiskey Route”, is the most popular route on Kilimanjaro. It is also considered the most scenic. Starting from the southwest of the mountain, you will wander through lush rain forests, scramble on the rocky and bleak terrain of Lava Tower, camp in the misty and surreal Barranco Valley surrounded by giant senecios, test rock climbing skills on the Barranco Wall before arriving at the Barafu Camp where you are rewarded with a sunset view of the cloud shrouded Mawenzi Peak (2nd peak of Kilimanjaro).
The Machame Route can be done in six days but seven days is recommended. The route follows “climb high, sleep low” principle and allows trekkers to properly acclimatize. On the summit night, the Machame Route goes from Barafu Camp along a ridge rather than a loose scree slope and is therefore less difficult than reaching the summit via the Kibo Hut (used by the Marangu and Rongai Route). Hence, the Machame Route boasts better summit success rates than some other routes.
Day 1: Machame Gate to Machame Camp
Your adventure begins after breakfast at around 8am when we pick you up from your hotel and take you to Machame Gate. The first day of the trek takes you into the lush rain forests. It’s quite a sweaty uphill walk though there is plenty to distract you as we look out for Kilimanjaro’s unique, endemic flora and fauna. We will also break for lunch while in the forest. At the day’s end we reach the upper limit of the forest and the Machame Camp.
Day 2: Machame Camp to Shira Cave
Day 2 we leave the forest behind and plough through the heath and moorland, Kilimanjaro’s second vegetation zone, along a steep and rocky trek. Today we will catch our first glimpse of Kibo, Kilimanjaro’s famed, snowy summit. Mount Meru, Kilimanjaro’s nearest neighbor, is also visible during today’s trek. We will be setting a deliberately slow pace from today onwards, to help everyone acclimatize. About an hour after lunch, the gradient levels out slightly as we approach the Shira Cave Campsite.
Day 3: Shira Cave to Barranco Camp
The morning begins with a long walk but a very photogenic one with the snowy summit of Kilimanjaro a constant looming presence ahead. Lunch this time is taken near the Lava Tower, at the foot of Kibo. With Lava Tower standing at 4530m/15,190 ft above sea level, some will have a slight headache. This is normal. Keep staying hydrated and let us know if symptoms persist. After a long day of hike, we will be rewarded with the misty and surreal Barranco Camp, surrounded by giant senecios.
Day 4: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
Today is a short day of only three to four hours or so. Leaving the camp you are immediately confronted by the Barranco Wall. Taking over an hour to climb, you will need to use your hands on occasions to haul yourself up the rocks. Although you don’t need rock climbing skills to complete it, you will enjoy it so much more if you take a couple of beginner rock climbing lessons. After the wall, we head over to our next camp through the Karanga Valley.
Day 5: Karanga Valley to Barafu Camp
Another short trek of three hours or so as we traverse the southern side of Kibo, walking through a spectacular lunar landscape bereft of life on our way to Barafu Camp, on the southeast of Kibo summit. Here we will rest, take lunch and dinner, and try to get some sleep before the summit night.
Night 5/Day 6: Barafu Camp to summit and descent to Millennium Camp
Arising at around midnight, we begin our slow march up to the Stella Point on the edge of the Kibo crater. It’s a steep, slow, cold march and a test of your endurance. We will reach Stella Point in between 6 and 8 hours all factors considered. You will be rewarded by the most beautiful, hard-earned sunrise and a sea of clouds beneath you. From Stella Point it is approx. 45 minutes further on, past glaciers and snowfields and with views over the Kibo Crater, to Uhuru Peak – the highest point in Africa!
After a rest at the top, we continue back down to Barafu Camp. This will take approx. 3 hours. At Barafu we take lunch and relax for an hour before continuing our march down the mountain on the Mweka Trail. After two hours we once more enter the forest zone. There, amongst the trees, we find the Millennium Camp.
Day 7: Millennium Camp to Mweka Gate