The Machame Route
Duration: 7 days hiking is recommended but it can be done in 6 days.
Overview: The Machame route (a.k.a. the “Whiskey Route” for it’s “intoxicating views”) is another classic Kilimanjaro climb. You hit all the eco-zones, get great views of Mt. Meru in the distance, and spend two days traversing the mountain before the summit. Each of these two days you ascend to about 15,000′ before descending again to camp closer to 12,000′. This “work high, sleep low” process helps you adjust to altitude more effectively and makes it more likely for you to reach the summit.
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Day 1: Machame Gate (4888 ft) to Machame Camp (9776 ft)
|4888 ft||11 mi||5-7 hrs|
The first hour or so on the trail is a gradual climb through the beautiful rain forest As you ascend, the trail becomes steeper and you begin to navigate exposed tree roots sticking out of the ground. The Machame Camp is just beyond the edge of the forest and the Machame Hut.
Day 2: Machame Camp (9776 ft) to Shira Camp (12,598 ft)
|2822 ft||5.5 mi||4-6 hrs|
Today’s climb is over rocks, little ones and big ones, as you make your way up to the Shira Plateau. The path is steep until lunch, afterwards becoming a more gradual incline towards Shira Camp. The large, exposed campground overlooks the town of Moshi.
Day 3: Shira Camp (12,598 ft) to Barranco Camp (12,960 ft)
|12,598 ft||9 mi||6-7 hrs|
This is your first day of “walk high, sleep low”, intended to help you acclimatize to the altitude. The grade is gradual as you make your way up to Lava Tower, but the way down to Barranco Camp is steep. Your camp is in the beautiful Barranco valley with large lobelia and senecio trees dotting the landscape.
Day 4: Barranco Camp (12,960 ft) to Barafu Camp (14,928 ft)
|1968 ft||8 mi||7 hrs|
You start the morning with a climb up the great Barranco wall, with some parts requiring a bit of scrambling over the rocks. Then it is about a 2 hour walk down to Karanga valley where you will have lunch. After a rest, you continue up to Barafu camp, where you will rest before the big summit attempt.
While the overall elevation gain is only about 2,000′ feet you will actually climb more like 3,700′ since you climb up the Barranco wall, hike down into the Karanga valley, and then back up to Barafu camp.
Day 5: Barafu Camp (14,928 ft) to Uhuru Peak (19,340 ft)
|4412 ft||4 mi||5-7 hrs|
Uhuru Peak (19,340 ft) to Mweka Camp (10,171 ft)
|-19,340 ft||14 mi||6-8 hrs|
This is the longest day. At around 12:30 am, you will begin your summit attempt. The path up to Stella Point zigzags back and forth along a gravel path. This portion takes about 6 hours. This can be quite boring as most of the hiking is in darkness with little to see. Then you scramble over a few rocks and continue up to Uhuru Peak. After a few victorious photos, it’s time to head back down to Barafu for a short rest before making your way down to Mweka camp.
Day 6: Mweka Camp (10,171 ft) to Mweka Gate (6496 ft)
|-3675 ft||9 mi||3-4 hrs|
Enjoy your last views of the mountain as you descend through the moorland and rain forest zones on your way to Mweka Gate. The path will be muddy, especially if it rained recently. At the gate, you will receive your completion certificate if you made it to Stella Point or Uhuru Peak. Then it’s back to the hotel for a hot shower and a dip in the swimming pool!