Kilimanjaro Climbing Machame Route

Kilimanjaro Climbing Machame Route

The Machame route, also known as the “Whiskey” route, is the most popular route on Kilimanjaro. Machame’s draw is in its scenic beauty. However, the trail is considered difficult, steep and challenging, particularly due to its shorter itinerary. Therefore 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, beginning with a short drive from Moshi to Machame Gate. The path leads hikers through the rain forest to Shira Plateau. Here, many of Kilimanjaro’s routes converge. Then the route turns east and traverses underneath Kilimanjaro’s Southern Ice Field on a path known as the Southern Circuit before summiting from Barafu. Descent is made via the Mweka route.

We offers Machame as a seven day group climb or as a six day private climb. The six day variation combines days four and five, going from Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp without staying at Karanga.

Overview

MACHAME ROUTE KILIMANJARO CLIMB

The most popular route to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro these days is Machame route, and for good reason. This trail offers stunning views, a reasonable challenge, and plenty of time to acclimate, making it a good choice for those who have a bit of extra time in their schedule.

Machame route has been nicknamed the “Whiskey Route” because it is often perceived as being tougher than Marangu route, which is often referred to as the “Coca-Cola” route. Unlike that trail however, camping is allowed on Machame, which means trekkers will be sleeping in tents all the way to the summit.

Trekkers who take the Machame Route pass several well known Mount Kilimanjaro landmarks while en route, including the famed Lava Tower and Shira Plateau. The route wanders up and down a series of valleys and ridges, which make the walk a bit more strenuous, but rewards hikers with some of the best views on the mountain.

It is for that reason that Machame route is widely considered to be the most scenic of all of the routes up Mount Kilimanjaro, providing unique and varied landscapes to pass through on each and every day. The trail starts on the south side of the mountain, passes underneath the Southern Ice Field and makes its summit approach from the Barafu Camp.

MACHAME ROUTE

The Machame route on Kilimanjaro is a seven day camping route which allows for excellent acclimatization and particularly diverse scenery. It has been called the Whiskey route in the past and nowadays about 35% of all climbers on the mountain use it.

In a matter of days you will climb Kilimanjaro from the equator up to an Arctic zone, moving through grasslands, tropical rainforest, alpine meadows, moorlands and high desert to snow and ice. Each day on this route presents quite a distinct ecosystem to experience, which is one reason it is so popular.

The other reason is that the seven day programme begins on the south west side of the mountain and traverses around to the south east side, enabling you to sleep at the same altitude for three consecutive nights which significantly aids altitude acclimatization. This means that our summit success rate on this route is quite high at around 85%.

We only run seven day trips on Kilimanjaro which is the recommended minimum number of days by all the international mountain associations such as the UIAA (International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation), plus our own assessment of mountain safety. The Machame route could be done in six days by missing out Karanga Valley and going straight to Barafu, but experience tells us that this leads to increased sickness and a much lower summit success rate.

From the start you will be speaking with experienced people who have climbed Kilimanjaro many times, including Gavin Bate who has been leading groups on the mountain regularly since 1994 and is always on hand for advice. We can give you an honest appraisal of the climb, about training for the mountain and what clothing and equipment you will need to buy or rent. This personal service extends to our staff iin Tanzania where AA Tanzania co-ordinator Castro Kapela will meet you and give a team briefing along with our guides.


VIDEO OF MACHAME ROUTE ON KILIMANJARO

Day 1: Arrival - Moshi

Day 1

On arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport, met and assisted. Transfer to Keys Annex Hotel for an overnight rest on bed and breakfast in readiness for the next day’s hit to Kilimanjaro.

Day 2
Day 2: Machame Gate (1490m) - Machame camp (2980m

Hiking time: 7 hours | Distance: About 18 km’s | Habitat: Montane forest
Your day starts early with a briefing, followed by breakfast and a 45-minute drive from Moshi (910m) to the Machame village (1490m). The guides and porters prepare and pack the supplies and your equipment in the village. You will receive 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. There is a strong possibility of rain in the forest, which will transform the trail into a very soggy, 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 (arriving at the camp site long before you) will have erected 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 already drop to freezing point at this campsite, B,L,D.

Day 3
Day 3: Machame camp (2980m) - Shira camp (3840m)

Hiking time: 6 hours | Distance: About 9 km’s | Habitat: Moorland
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 short lunch and rest, you continue up a rocky ridge onto the Shira plateau. By now you will be able to see in an easterly direction, the Western Breach with its stunning glaciers. You are now due west of Kibo and after a short hike you will reach the Shira campsite at 3 840m. 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, B,L,D.

Day 4
Day 4: Shira (3840m) - Lava Tower (4630m)-Barranco camp (3950m)

Hiking time: 7 hours | Distance: About 15 km’s | Habitat: Semi desert
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 scree path to Lava Tower (4630m). Definitely, the toughest day so far. 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 acclimatisation benefit of this day becomes clear. This descent to Barranco camp takes about 2 hours and offers great opportunities to take some beautiful photographs 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 sunset while you wait for the preparation of your dinner, B,L,D.

Day 5
Day 5: Barranco camp (3950m) - Barafu camp (4550m)

Hiking time: 7 hours | Distance: About 13 km’s | Habitat: Alpine desert
After spending a night at the Great Barranco Wall (a very imposing sight at first), 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 Karranga 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 familiarise 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 19h00 and try to get some precious rest and sleep, B,L,D.

Day 6
Day 6: SUMMIT ATTEMPT, 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 | Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit
You will rise around 23h30, and after some tea and biscuits you shuffle off into the night. You will head in a northwesterly direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. This 6-hour walk to Stella point is for many climbers, mentally and physically the most challenging on the route. At Stella Point (5685m) you will stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see (weather permitting). From Stella Point you will normally encounter snow all the way on your 2-hour ascent to Uhuru Peak. The time you will spend on the summit will depend on the weather conditions. Do not stop here for too long, as it will be extremely difficult to start again 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. Here you will have a well earned but short rest and collect the rest of your gear, before heading down to Mweka hut (3100m). The route is not difficult and will take you down the rock and scree path into the moorland and eventually into the forest. The camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Dinner and washing water will be prepared, B,L,D.

Day 7
Day 7: Mweka camp (3100m) - Mweka Gate (1980m)

Hiking time: 3 hours | Distance: About 15 km’s | Habitat: Forest
After an early and well-deserved breakfast, it is a short 3-hour and scenic hike back to the Park gate. At Mweka gate you sign your name and details in a register. This is also where successful 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 you will continue down into the Mweka village, normally a muddy 3 km (1 hour) hike. In the Mweka village you will be served a delicious hot lunch!! You now drive back to Moshi for a long over due hot shower, dinner and celebrations!! Overnight at Keys Annex Hotel, B,L. 

Day 8
Day 8: Departure

Transfer to Kilimanjaro Airport for your flight back home or continue with your safari schedule. End of services. B

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Kilimanjaro Climbing Machame Route
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