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. 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
Tour Length: 6 days 5 nights
Price: $1350 per person
Day 1: Machame Gate (1490m) - Machame camp (2980m).
Hiking time: 7 hours.
Distance: About 18 km's.
Habitat: Montane forest.
Your day starts early with a briefing, followed by breakfast and a 45-minute drive from Moshi (910m) to the Machame village (1490m). The guides and porters prepare and pack the supplies and your equipment in the village. You will receive a lunch pack and you can also buy mineral water in the village. Depending on the condition of the road, it is possible to drive from the village to the Machame gate, but if not, the muddy 3 km walk will take about 1 hour to complete.
Your porters (arriving at the camp site long before you) will have erected your tent on your arrival. In the evening the porters will boil drinking and washing water and the cook will prepare dinner, before you retire to your tent for the night. Night temperatures can already drop to freezing point at this campsite.
Day 2: Machame camp (2980m) - Shira camp (3840m).
Hiking time: 6 hours.
Distance: About 9 km's.
You rise early at Machame camp and after breakfast you climb an hour or so to the top of the forest and then for 2 hours at a gentler gradient through the moorland zone. After a short lunch and rest, you continue up a rocky ridge onto the Shira plateau. The porters will boil drinking and washing water, before serving dinner. The night at this exposed camp will even be colder than the previous night, with temperatures dropping to well below freezing.
Day 3: Shira (3840m) - Lava Tower (4630m)-Barranco camp (3950m).
Hiking time: 7 hours.
Distance: About 15 km's.
Habitat: Semi desert.
The route now turns east into a semi desert and rocky landscape surrounding Lava Tower, where you reach an altitude of 4630m after about a 5 hours walk. Lunch is served in a designated area before ascending the rocky scree path to Lava Tower (4630m).This descent to Barranco camp takes about 2 hours and offers great opportunities to take some beautiful photographs of the Western Breach and Breach Wall. The camp is situated in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall, which should provide you with a memorable sunset while you wait for the preparation of your dinner.
Day 4: Barranco camp (3950m) - Barafu camp (4550m).
Hiking time: 7 hours.
Distance: About 13 km's.
Habitat: Alpine desert
After spending a night at the Great Barranco Wall (a very imposing sight at first), you make your way up this awesome looking obstacle, which in the end normally turns out easier than what you anticipated. This is the preferred route down from the summit, so remember it. Turn left up the ridge and after another hour or so, you reach Barafu Hut. The last water stop on the route is the Karranga Valley, as there is no water at Barafu camp.
Make sure that you familiarise yourself with the terrain before dark to avoid any accidents. The summit is now a further 1345m up and you will make the final ascent the same night. Prepare your equipment, ski stick and thermal clothing for your summit attempt.
Go to bed at round about 19h00 and try to get some precious rest and sleep.
Day 5: SUMMIT ATTEMPT, Barafu camp (4550m) - Uhuru Peak (5895m)-Mweka (3100m).
Hiking time: 8 hours to reach Uhuru Peak. 7/8 hours to descend to Mweka.
Distance: About 7 km's ascent - 23 km's descent.
Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit.
You will rise around 23h30, and after some tea and biscuits you shuffle off into the night. You will head in a northwesterly direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. This 6-hour walk to Stella point is for many climbers, mentally and physically the most challenging on the route. The walk back to Barafu from the summit, takes about 3 hours. Here you will have a well earned but short rest and collect the rest of your gear, before heading down to Mweka hut (3100m). The route is not difficult and will take you down the rock and scree path into the moorland and eventually into the forest. The camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Dinner and washing water will be prepared.