The Machame Route is one of Mount Kilimanjaro’s most popular routes. According to Kilimanjaro National Park statistics, approximately 53% of trekkers ascend Kilimanjaro via the Machame Route. The route is very scenic, offering hikers incredible views and a variety of landscapes. Climbers must be able to ascend the Barranco wall on day four and contend with a steep incline up Kibo on summit night to complete the Machame route.
DAY 1 – ARUSHA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TO KILIMANJARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Your first night in Arusha will be spent at Planet Lodge. If you chose to be picked up from Kilimanjaro International Airport, you’re The Africa Safaris driver will be waiting to greet you and take you to your Arusha lodge to relax after your flight.
DAY 2: ARUSHA – MACHAME GATE – MACHAME CAMP
After an early breakfast (07.00), we leave the hotel one hour later to arrive at the Machame Gate around 10.00, passing by the village chief’s house en route. We arrive in good time for registration and the start of our journey.
As the porters load up your equipment and you meet the trekking team who will accompany you up the mountain, your excitement grows. The Machame-Mweka Route (commonly referred to simply as the Machame Route) approaches the mountain from the south-western side. Your first day of walking will begin at an altitude of 1800 meters and end at a height of over 3000 meters, covering a distance of 11 kilometers and taking approximately 4.5 to 5 hours of actual walking time. Cloud forest trees can grow to heights of more than 25 meters. Around 13.00, a picnic lunch is enjoyed, water bottles can be refilled, and then our journey continues. As you approach heathland and the forest thins out, the iconic giant heathers appear. At around 17.00, you get your first glimpse of Kibo peak. The abundance of birdlife here will astound you. Dinner is served at 19.30 p.m. at Machame Camp.
MACHAME CAMP – SHIRA CAVE – DAY 3
You’ll get used to the early breakfast at 07.00, and we’ll leave the camp at 08.30 today. We have another 800 meters of ascent to complete the day at 3800 meters, and while the overall distance is short (5km), we will spend approximately 4.5 to 5 hours walking.
Today’s path is dusty, narrow, and steep. The vegetation is initially composed of heather forests, but we will soon encounter the first of the giant groundsels. The ascent prior to our midday picnic lunch is steep, but there are then great views to the south and to Kibo to enjoy while you eat. With today’s early start and short distance, we should arrive at the camp by 14.00, having encountered the moorland lobelias and Shira Plateau reached for the first time. Once at the camp, you’ll have plenty of time to admire sights like the Shira Cathedral, Klute Peak, and Mount Meru before dinner at 18.00 and overnight at Shira 2 camp.
DAY 4: SHIRA CAVE – BARRANCO CAMP
Today’s journey is longer than yesterday, but our overall elevation gain is modest. Starting at 3800 meters, we will only be 140 meters higher by the time we arrive at camp this afternoon, though in between we will climb up to the base of the famous Lava Tower at 4627 meters before descending to our camp.
Today’s benefits for acclimatization are enormous, as you climb high and then descend for the overnight stop. We will walk for approximately 6.5 to 7 hours, excluding breaks, due to the overall distance of approximately 10km. Our day will start with breakfast at 07.00 and end at 08.30, when we will begin our trek across the stony landscape of Shira Plateau. At first, the vegetation is sparse, with only a few hardy lichens to admire. You make your way to the Lava Tower and eat your picnic lunch at 13.00. We descend to the Barranco Camp after passing the day’s highpoint, the Lava Tower. Once at camp, which we expect to arrive at around 16.00, you should take some time to admire the views of Kibo’s southern face as well as the Heim Glacier. Barranco Camp is where you’ll spend the night and eat dinner.
DAY 5: BARRANCO CAMP – BARAFU CAMP
Today, we ate breakfast at 7:00 a.m., anticipating a long day. We have a total distance of 9 km to cover and an elevation gain of 660 meters, with a total walking time of 6.5 to 7 hours.
Our departure time today is 08.00; a hot lunch is planned for midday at Karanga, and we hope to arrive at Barafu by 16.00 for dinner at 18.00. We begin with a difficult scramble up the near-vertical face of the Barranco Wall (also known as the ‘Breakfast Wall’ because the climb comes right after breakfast!). Views of the Heim Glacier can be had from the summit. We then descend to the gully below and into the cold, beautiful Karanga Valley before continuing up a steep series of zig-zags until we reach Karanga for lunch. Today’s stage continues steadily ascending through barren, rocky terrain, with the Decken and Kerstin glaciers visible to the left. The landscape remains desolate as you descend into a valley and catch your first glimpse of another glacier, Rebmann. At the end of the day, you will spend the night and eat dinner at Barafu Camp.
DAY 6: BARAFU CAMP – UHURU (SUMMIT) – MWEKA CAMP –
Today is the most difficult day, but hopefully it will end with a great sense of accomplishment from reaching your goal – the summit of Kilimanjaro! Our ‘Summit Day’ agenda is, of course, very different. We get up at 23.00 and have tea and biscuits (23.30) before our midnight departure.
The day begins with a long, difficult climb from Barafu at 4600 meters to Stella Point at 5745 meters; some of this will be done on screen, making the trek more difficult. From there, it’s another 150 meters uphill and a 45-minute walk to the summit. Our goal is to reach the summit by 07.00, then celebrate by taking precious photos and enjoying this once-in-a-lifetime experience. We return to Barafu after the summit for a couple of hours take after a hot lunch, we will depart at 13.30 p.m. to continue our descent to Mweka Camp (3100 m), where we will spend the night. We’d like to arrive at 17.00 and eat dinner at 19.00. (Today, we walked about 17 kilometers in about 13 hours.)
DAY 7: MWEKA CAMP – MWEKA GATE – ARUSHA
Still ecstatic about your accomplishment, breakfast is served at 07.00, and at 08.00, you have the opportunity to reward your trekking team at the ‘Tipping Celebration.’
Departure is at 09.00, and you will descend to Mweka Gate at an altitude of 1640 meters, where you will be served a hot lunch and presented with your well-earned certificate at midday. Your transportation will be waiting to take you back to your hotel in Arusha or Moshi, where you can relax – or celebrate!