This is probably the most beautiful route up Kilimanjaro. All your equipment and supplies are portered and a cook prepares all your meals. Where accommodation on the Marangu route is in huts, the Machame route offers strictly tents only. This makes Machame (also referred to as the “Whiskey route”) better suited to the slightly more adventurous hiker, however rewarding him with a scenic splendour such as not seen on the Marangu route. From late afternoon sunsets at Shira, to the misty revelations of Kibo at the great Barranco Wall, the Machame route offers the adventurous hiker a stunning scenic “slide show” over 6 days. The Machame route is normally completed in a minimum of 6 days. There is an added benefit to this, as you are afforded the most valuable commodity on the mountain – acclimatisation. The Machame route takes you high to Lava Tower (4630m) on the day 3 and brings you down by nearly 700m for an overnight at Barranco camp (3950m). This is the secret to successful acclimatisation.
Day 1: To Machame Hut – 1830m to 3100m
The drive from Moshi to the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park Gate takes about 50 minutes. The journey passes through the village of Machame which is located on the lower slopes of the mountain. Once we reach the park gate, climbers are requested to make their final preparations for the climb. Porters will be seen arranging their packs containing the food, water, firewood, and other equipment. Make sure that you have all your day pack items with you as the porters travel very quickly. The guides will be pleased to assist with any additional information. We now leave the park gate and walk through the rain forest on a winding trail to the first uniport hut which is located at an altitude of 3, 048 meters. Lower down, the trail can be muddy and slippery. Gaiters and trekking poles are a good idea here. We continue a short distance until we reach the Machame Hut. Here we make camp, rest, enjoy our dinner, and overnight. e have now reached an altitude of 3,100 meters.
Day 2: To Shira Hut – 3100m to 3840m
After breakfast, we leave the glades of the rain forest and continue on an ascending path, crossing the little valley walking along a steep rocky ridge, covered with heather until the ridge ends. The route now turns West onto a river gorge at 3,658 meters. Time for rest, dinner, and overnight at the Shira Hut camp site. For acclimatization purposes, some parties stay here an extra night.
Day 3: Acclimatization Day – 3840m
We walk around the Shira plateau and maybe walk towards the Lava tower for acclimatization (you can also camp there).
Day 4: To Arrow Glacier – 3840m to 4850m
Depart from Barranco, ascending slowly to the Arrow Glacier at 4,850 meters. Dinner and overnight at the Arrow campsite.
Day 5: To Summit and Mweka Hut – 4850m to 5895m (and down to 3100m)
Early morning, commence the ascent to the summit on very steep rocky and heavy screen up to Uhuru Peak (5,895 meters), the highest point in Africa. Scrambling will be needed and it can be snowy and icy up this way. From here we descend going straight down to the Mweka encampment (lunch and rest at Barafu Hut) for dinner and overnight. This part of the descent takes about 5 hours. You will want gaiters and trekking poles for the loose gravel going down. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.
Day 6: To Moshi – 3100m to 1830m
After breakfast, we continue the descent down to the Mweka 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). A vehicle will meet you at Mweka village to drive you back to the hotel in Moshi. Don’t forget to tip your guides and porters. It is time for celebration!