Option 1: Kilimanjaro Climb - Machame Route
- Duration: 6 Days trekking; 4 and a half days ascending, 1 and a half days descending.
- Lenght: 100 km/62 mi total; 62 km/38 mi to summit; 38 km/24 mi descend from summit
- Elevation: 4,405 m/14,450 ft net gain; 3,915 m/12,845 ft descend
Machame Gate (1,490 m/4890 ft) to Uhuru Peak (5,895 m/19,340 ft) and descend to Mweka Gate (1,980 m/6,500 ft).
The Machame Route is a beautiful route up Kilimanjaro that allows you to experience the southwest and south sides of the mountain, since you go up one way and down another. All your equipment and supplies are carried by porters and a cook prepares all your meals. Unlike the Marangu Route where you sleep in huts, on the Machame you sleep in tents (tents are included), and the porters will pitch your tent for you. Meals are served in a dinner tent or on blanket outside. This makes the machame, which is referred to as the "Whiskey Route", better suited to more adventurous hikers, and it is also rewards you with better views than the Marangu Route.
From Late afternoon sunsets at Shira, to the misty revelations of Kibo's great Barrance Wall, the Machame Route offers the spunky hiker a continous scenic slide show. The Machame route is normally completed in 6 days, and this greatly helps your acclimitization. The Machame Route takes you high to Lava Tower (4,630 m/15,190 ft) on day 3 then brings you down for an overnight at Barranco Camp (3,950 m/12,960 ft). This intermediate ascent and descent is the secret to a successful acclimatization, and is the reason that this route has a high success rate.
We recommend you to bring gears like; smaller personal backpack, thick hiking socks, windproof/waterproof pants and jacket, heavy gloves, heavy winter jacket, water bottles, gaiters (covers top of boots and bottom of pants), hiking boots, larger backpack for clothes, cold weather sleeping bags, safari style hat protecting face and neck from sun, headlamp style flashlight, camera of course, dried fruit and energy bars, sun block, malaria pills, water purification tablets, inflatable pillows, your regular clothes.
Day 0: Arrive at the Kilimanjaro International Airport. You will be met at the Airport and transferred to the hotel in Arusha or in Moshi for your overnight and briefing by our mountain guide.
Day 1: Machame Gate to Machame Camp
Elevation: 1,490m to 2,980m (4,890ft to 9,780ft)
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Habitat: Montane Forest
Your day starts early with a briefing, followed by breakfast and a 50-minute drive from Moshi or a one and half hours drive from Arusha to the Machame Village (1,490 m/4,890 ft) where your guides and porters prepare and pack your equipment and supplies. You will receive a lunch pack, and you can also buy mineral water in the village. If the road is very muddy, it may be impossible to drive from the village to the Machame Gate, and in this case, it will take you an hour to complete the muddy 3 km walk to the gate. After registering at the park office, you start your ascent and enter the rain forest immediately. Heavy rains on this side of the mointain often trasform the trail into a soggy, slippery experience, so good footgear, trekking poles, and gaiters are useful. Yo will enjoy a welcome lunch stop halfway up and will reach the Machame camping area in the late afternoon. Your porters will arrive at camp before you and will erect your tent before you arrive. In the evening, the porters boil drinking and washing water while the cook poepares your dinner. Night temperaturs can drop to freezing at the Machame Camp.
Day 2: Machame Camp to Shira Camp
Elevation: 2,980m to 3,840m (9,780ft to 12,600ft)
Walking Time: 4-6 hours
You rise early at Machame camp, and after breakfast, climb for an hour to the top of the forest, then for 2 hours through a gentle moorland. After a short lunch and rest, you continue up a rocky ridge onto the Shira Plateau where you will be able to see Kilimanjaro's great Western Breach with its stunning glaciers. Sometimes, the walls of the Western Breach are draped with extensive ice curtains. You are now west of Kibo on the opposite side of the mountain from the Marangu Route. After a short hike west, you reach the shira campsite. The porters will boil drinking and washing water before serving dinner. The night at this exposed camp will be colder, with temperatures dropping below freezing.
Day 3: Shira Camp to Lava Tower to Barranco Camp
Elevation: 3,840m to 4,630m to 3,950m (12,600ft to 15,190ft to 12,960ft)
Distance: 15 km
Walking Time: 5-7 hours
After breakfast, you will walk up a steepening path above the highest vegetation toward Kilimanjaro's looming mass. After several hours, you walk thorough a rocky landscape to reach the prominent landmark called Lava Tower, also called the "Shark's Tooth." at 4,630 m/15,190ft. This chunky remnant of Kilimanjaro's earlier volcanic activity is several hundred feet high, and the trail passes right below it. For extra credit, the sure-footed can scramble to the top of the tower. After a lunch stop near Lava Tower, descend for 2 hours belowthe lower cliffs of the Western Breach and Breach Wall to Barranco Camp at 3,950 m/12,960 ft. There are numerous photo opportunities on this hike, especially if the walls are festooned with ice. Barranco Camp is in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Walls, which should provide you with a memorable sunset while you wait for your dinner. On this day, be careful to notice any signs of altitude sickness. Although you end the day at almost the same elevation as when you started, this day is very important for acclimatization and will help your body prepare for summit day.
Day 4: Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp
Elevation: 3,950m to 4,550m (12,960ft to 14,930ft)
Hiking Time: 8 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert
After spending a night under the imposing Great Barranco Wall, you climb this awesome obstacle, which turns out to be easier than it looks. Topping out just below the Heim Glacier, you can now appreciate just how beautiful Kilimanjaro really is. The route then heads down through the Karanga Valley and goes over intervening ridges and valleys to join the Mweka Route, which will be your descent route. You have now completed the South Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. For now, all eyes are still on the summit, so turn left and hike up the ridge for another hour to the Barafu Hut.
The last water on the route is in the Karanga Valley; there is no water at Barafu Camp, even though Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice.” The famous snows of Kilimanjaro are far above Barafu Camp near the summit of the mountain. Your tent will be pitched on a narrow, stony, wind-swept ridge, so make sure that you familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark to avoid any accidents. Prepare your equipment and warm clothing for your summit climb. This should include replacing your headlamp and camera batteries, and to prevent freezing, consider carrying your water in a thermal flask. Go to bed by 7 PM, and try to get a few hours of precious sleep.
Day 5: Summit Day! "Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp"
Elevation: 4,550m-5,895m (and down to 3,100m), (14,930ft-19,340ft (and down to 10,170ft)
Distance: 7km up / 23km down
Hiking Time: 6 - 8 hours up / 7 - 8 hours down
Habitat: Stone scree, seasonal snow and ice-capped summit
You will rise around 11:30 PM, and after some steaming tea and biscuits, you shuffle off into the night. Your 6-hour climb northwest up through heavy scree between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers to Stella Point on the crater rim is the most challenging part of the route for most climbers. At Stella Point (5,685 m/18,650 ft) you stop for a short rest and a chance to see a supremely sanguine sunrise. At Stella Point you join the top part of the Marangu Route, but do not stop here too long, as it will be extremely difficult to start again due to cold and fatigue. Depending on the season and recent storms, you may encounter snow on your remaining hike along the rim to Uhuru Peak.
On the summit, you can enjoy your accomplishment and know that you are creating a day that you will remember for the rest of your life. After your 3-hour descent from the summit back to Barafu Camp, you will have a well-earned but short rest, collect your gear, and hike down a rock and scree path into the moorland and eventually into the forest to Mweka Camp (3,100 m/10,170 ft) "You will want gaiters and trekking poles for the loose gravel going down". This camp is in the upper forest, so you can expect mist or rain in the late afternoon. Dinner, and washing water will be prepared, and the camp office sells drinking water, soft drinks, chocolates, and beer!
Day 6: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate to Moshi/Arusha
Elevation: 3,100m to 1,980m to 890m (10,170ft to 6500ft to 2,920ft)
Distance: 15 km
Hiking Time: 3 - 4 hours
After a well-deserved breakfast, it is a short, scenic, 3-hour hike back to the park gate. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be plenty to wear (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy). Don’t give your porters any tips until you and all your gear have reached the gate safely, but do remember to tip your staff at the gate. At Mweka Gate, you can sign your name and add details in a register. This is also where successful climbers receive their summit certificates. Climbers who reached Stella Point are issued green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak receive gold certificates. From the Mweka Gate, you will continue down to the Mweka Village, possibly a muddy, 3 km, 1 hour hike if the road is too muddy for vehicles. In the Mweka Village you will be served a delicious hot lunch after which you are driven back to Moshi/Arusha for an overdue hot shower and comfortable night in a hotel.
Optional Day (7-day trek): Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
Elevation: 3950m to 4200m (12,600ft to 13,800ft)
Hiking Time: 4 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert
After breakfast, we leave Barranco and continue on a steep ridge passing the Barranco Wall, to the Karanga Valley campsite. There is water at this camp. Then, on Day 5 you will hike from the Karanga Valley Camp to the Barafu Camp, summit on Day 6, and finish your descent on Day 7.
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