Nestled in Northeast Tanzania near the Kenya border, Mt Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain peak in Africa, with an altitude of 5,895 meters above the sea level. The world’s tallest freestanding mountain can be reached through various routes, however, the Machame route to summit is the best, as it offers a spectacular and a mind-boggling trekking experience.
The Machame route is also known as the ‘Whisky route’, because of the tough terrains and bumper-to-bumper adventures the route follows. Therefore, it is best suited for professional hikers or people who are lion-hearted and are experienced with high altitude and hiking experience. The weather changes from one plateau to another, so one needs to be flexible with the changing environment. The incredible scenery of alpine deserts and ice-capped summit along the route and starry nights at the campsite is what any nature enthusiast and adventure junkie craves for. Spot the hidden monkeys and myriad bird species as you move along the rainforest.
The route embarks from the south with a short 50 minute drive from Moshi to Machame Gate. The trail leads trekkers through the rainforest to Shira where many other routes converge. From the Shira plateau, the route turns towards east to Lava Tower and later to the second junction, Barranco Camp. Then continue on a steep ridge passing the Barranco wall to the Karanga Camp for acclimatization.
The next destination, Barafu, marks the completion of the Southern Circuit. The incredible views of Mawenzi and Kibo at Barafu camp is bound to entrance anyone visiting this scenic land. This most challenging and steep trek begins from here and continues to Stella point, from where the summit is just 1-hour away. At this point, one can have a magnificent view of the sunrise, and if the weather permits, one can even encounter snow glaciers. Later, the descent starts from the Mweka route.
It is essential you don’t forget to pack some must-have items.
Protective clothing is a must to withstand the extreme weather conditions.
A pair of great hiking boots and a comfortable pair of shoes to wear when you are camping.
Don’t forget to pack medication and some vital items like sunscreens, wet wipes, water and etc.
And yes, something about the summit. It is often said, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder’.’ This hold true for Kilimanjaro's splendid glaciers when illuminated by the full moon enthrall trekkers. Also, the moonlight is quite helpful with visibility on the final overnight push to the top. These full-moon expeditions are on the rise among the stargazers, and why not, it is better to sleep underneath five billion stars than in a five-star hotel.
Day 1 - Arrival in Kilimanjaro International Airport
Settled between Moshi and Arusha, Kilimanjaro International Airport is the closest airport to the mountain. As soon you land at the airport, you will be greeted by plush greenery and crisp weather, but snow-capped mountains all around will take your attention for sure. After exiting the airport, meet our representative and proceed towards your 3-star hotel. On reaching the hotel, your documentation will be carried out and the rental of required equipment will be done on this day.
Day 2 - Drive - Arusha to Machame Gate, Trek - Machame Gate to Machame Camp
As soon as the morning unfolds, get ready for an adventure of a lifetime. After breakfast, head out for a drive to the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park Gate which takes about 50 minutes. Set on the lower slopes of the mountain, the route passes through the village of Machame. On reaching the park gate, walk through the rainforest until Machame Camp. The lush trail can be murky and slippery so trekking poles are highly recommended here for a better stability.
Day 3 - Machame Camp to Shira Camp
Elevation: 9,400ft to 12,500ft
Distance: 5 km
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
After nourishing ourselves with food and vigour, we leave the intrepid trail of rainforest and continue the thrill by walking along the mountain ditch. The ungoverned pathways and perpendicular climb will definitely give you a good adrenaline rush. After reaching the Shira campsite, it’s time for resting overnight and inculcating back the drowned energy.
Day 4 - Shira Camp to Lava Tower to Barranco Camp
Elevation: 12,500ft to 13,000ft
Distance: 10 km
Hiking Time: 6-8 hours
Habitat: Semi Desert
From the Shira plateau, the route turns towards east to the peak of Kibo and later the direction changes to the southeast, towards the second junction, the Lava Tower, also called Shark’s Tooth. Soon after reaching an altitude of 16,000ft, we descent down to Barranco hut at 13,000 ft. Here we will stay overnight and set our camps and enjoy dinner under the blanket of stars. Although you are back at the same altitude this is because your body needs time to adjust to acclimatization.
Day 5 - Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
Elevation: 13,000ft to 13,100ft
Distance: 5 km
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert
After the morning unfolds, we will continue to trek the Karanga Valley Campsite passing through the Barranco Wall. The trek is of short duration, as your body needs to be prepared for acclimatization and summit day trek.
Day 6 - Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
Elevation: 13,100ft to 15,300ft
Distance: 4 km
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert
After the sunrise and a quick breakfast, we leave the Karanga Camp and reach the mid junction, Mweka Trail. From here, we move up to Barafu hut and spectacle the majestic Mt. Kilimanjaro from different angles. South circuit is completed at Barafu, so now we take rest and prepare for the final stretch. Eat some food to retain back the drowned energy.
Day 7 - Barafu Camp to Summit to Mweka Hut
Elevation: 15,300ft to 19,345ft to 10,000ft
Distance: 5 km ascent / 12 km descent
Hiking Time: 7-8 hours ascent / 4-6 hours descent
At the moonlit hours, we strive towards the peak between the Ratzel and the Rebmann glacier. The most challenging and steep trek begins here to Stella point, from where one can have a magnificent spectacle of the sunrise. Also, from this point, the summit is nearly 1-hour climb and you will reach the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro. If you are a swift trekker, you might even see the sunrise from the summit.
After cherishing your climb at the peak, we now make our descent straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site. Trekking poles and gaiters are significant while descending down. Later in the evening, one might even find mist or little drizzle at the Mweka Camp. We will enjoy our last meal on the mountain surrounded by the sheer beauty of nature.
Day 8 - Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate to Arusha
Elevation: 10,000ft to 5,400ft
Distance: 10 km
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
At dawn, we continue to descend down to the Mweka Park Gate to give your summit certificates. It can be quite muddy and slippery at the lower altitude, it is better to carry trekking poles along with you. We will go to Mweka Village, where a vehicle will meet you and drive you back to your hotel in Moshi.
Day 9 - Departure from Kilimanjaro
On your last day, you can have a scrumptious breakfast at the hotel and buy some souvenirs as a token of everlasting memories. You will be dropped at Kilimanjaro International Airport for further transfer.
FAQs for Kilimanjaro Trekking Via Machame Route
1) When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?
It is best to climb Kilimanjaro when the weather is dry, between mid-December to early-March, and between mid-June to end of October. You should avoid climbing during rainy season, which is between March- mid-June.
2) What are the main differences between the Machame, Lemosho, and Marangu routes?
On Lemosho and Machame routes, you take longer to reach your destination and you stay in pitched tents. These routes are also considered more scenic than the Marangu route. The basic difference in the Marangu route is that you will be staying in huts or tea houses instead of camping under the stars.
3) What is the fitness level required for this trek?
If you want to climb Kilimanjaro, proper training is necessary. The best way to train for Kilimanjaro is to do rigorous workout from at least a month before. Get accustomed to the constant walking and you will find it much more easier to summit Kilimanjaro.
4) Is drinking water provided during the trek?
Yes, drinking water will be available to you throughout the entire trek. Water is collected from the nearby streams or other water bodies, and then it is boiled and filtered. On higher elevation, the water is boiled and chlorine tablets are used for purification.
5) How many days are required to complete the trek?
If you choose the Machame route, it will take 9 days to complete. You will witness diverse terrains and changing climate throughout the entire trek. The incredible nine days will take you to the summit of Kilimanjaro and back to the starting point.
Duration: 8 nights/ 9 days
Maximum Altitude: 19,340 feet
Grade: Moderate to challenging
Best Time to go: January to March & June to October
HOW TO REACH?
Nearest airport is Kilimanjaro International Airport or Dar es Salam airport. From Kilimanjaro Airport, Moshi is 70 KM away by road, from where the trek starts.