If Marangu is the "Coca Cola" route, then the Machame Route is the "Whiskey" route. This is a popular route up steep paths through magnificent forests to gain a ridge leading through the moorland zones to the Shira Plateau. It then traverses beneath the glaciated precipices of the Southern Icefields to join the Barafu Route to the summit. An extra day could be added to the itinerary, best spent on the Shira Plateau, where you could walk to the Shira Needles. Strong groups could omit camping at Karanga River. The Mweka Route is used for the descent.
Day 1: From Arusha or Moshi, drive to the Machame Park gate, set off climbing gently through the south-western slopes of the mountain. This is original montane forest, carpeted with unique "busy lizzie" flowers, begonias and ferns. First camp amongst the giant heather at 3,000m. A 1,200m ascent and 6 hours walking.
Day 2: Emerging from the forest into the giant heather zone and out onto fine open moorland to camp by the Shira Cave at 3,840 m. We've seen herds of eland up here and there are fascinating geological features in the old volcanic caldera which can be viewed during a half hour optional walk in the afternoon. 840 m ascent and 4-5 hours walking.
Day 3: From Shira climb towards the main peak Kibo, with the western glaciers clearly visible across the rugged high-altitude desert of volcanic rocks and boulders. Skirting around its base and under the imposing western Breach, descend into the sheltered Barranco Valley for mid-way camp at 3,950 m. 5-7 hours walking and only 11 on total ascent - but having climbed much higher and dropped back down assists acclimatization.
Day 4: Up the steep Barranco wall with some sections of very easy scrambling and drop down again to the Karanga Valley. This is a short walking day, 3-4 hours, with an optional acclimatization hike in afternoon up onto the scree below the glaciers.
Day 5: Up to a new camp about 150 m above Barafu Hut perched high on a rocky bluff at 4,750 m. Fantastic views across to Mawenzi peak and a bit less to climb tomorrow morning! This is another short walking day, about 4 hours, with less exertion and a good rest in afternoon immediately before the hard summit day.
Day 6: A bracing 1:00 am start to climb the steep frozen scree. This is unavoidable on any route but we aim to reach Stella Point on the crater rim for sunrise - another 40 min and you're at the highest point on the continent, usually in warm sunshine.
Day 7: A 4-5 hours descent through the forest to Mweka Gate to collect our certificates and meet our vehicle. Return to Arusha/Moshi for overnight.
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Africa Tanzania Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Mountain/Rock Climbing