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Machame Route | Climb Kilimanjaro

Machame Route | Climb Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa, rises on the Tanzania – Kenya border, well into the Eastern half of the African continent. Towering above the Tanzanian plains so close to the equator (3.04 degrees South), the snowclad mountain leads a spectacular existence on the African plains. So spectacular that well into the nineteenth century, much of mainland Europe refused to believe eyewitness accounts of its existence. In our own time, Kili (as it is affectionately called by the climbing community) is a proud member of two exclusive clubs viz. seven summits of the world (composed of the tallest mountain in each of the seven continents) and seven natural wonders of the world.

December end to March and June to beginning of October when the weather is more likely to be dry are the popular climbing season for Kilimanjaro. These months also tend to be the busiest on the mountains.

Moshi town Map

Nestled at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, Moshi is the coffee producing centre of the country. All around the town and on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, there are vast plantations of coffee blanket covering the area.

Machame route Map

The picture above shows how the route ascends one side of the mountain, maintains a sleeping altitude of around 3900m (Shira Camp, Barranco Camp and Karanga Camp) for three nights which aids acclimatisation, and then goes up to Barafu Camp at 4600m for the final walk to the top. The route starts at Machame Gate on the south west of the mountain and ascends to the first camp at the edge of the forest and then continues up and traverses the mountain for several days before climbing to the peak from the final camp on the south east side of the peak. The descent is almost directly south.

Arusha town Map

Arusha City is a Tanzanian city and the regional capital of the Arusha Region, with a population of 416,442 plus 323,198 in the surrounding Arusha Rural District (2012 census).

The Machame route (also called the Whiskey route) is extremely popular among guides and climbers alike for several reasons. For one, Machame is the amongst the most scenic routes to climb Kilimanjaro. The route traverses the Southern and Western faces of the mountain and passes through five climatic zones including spectacular cloud forests in the lower ranges. It also offers great acclimatization opportunity, as it naturally follows the mountaineer’s caveat of walking high and sleeping low. 

This is perhaps one of the reasons for the relatively high success rate for this route, especially when compared to the Marangu route (also called the Coca Cola trail). Compared to Marangu, you need one or two days more on the Machame route which again improves the acclimatization and success rate on this route. You also have the option of splitting the pre-summit day climb which means you are better rested for the all important summit push. 

And the cherry on your summit dessert is that you will take a different path on your way down than the one on which you ascend, enabling you to savour more of Kilimanjaro. To its fault, Machame is sometimes too popular by its virtues which means it is usually a bit more crowded than other routes. Also it is usually more expensive to climb on Machame than Marangu, as the Whiskey versus Coca Cola nomenclature would suggest.

Machame Rotute – Most Popular Kilimanjaro route

The Machame route is the most popular path. It is the route of choice for many people because it provides impressive views and a variety of habitats. About 50% of all climbers, and most seasoned climbers, choose the Machame route. It is also one of the cheaper routes due to its easy access and shorter itinerary.

The Machame route is also known as the Whiskey route, given its reputation for being a tough climb, in contrast to the easier Marangu route, which is known as the Coca Cola route. 

A physically demanding route through a variety of landscapes. The hike is steeper than other routes but the extra day offers a perfect way to acclimatize. This is our most popular route and accommodation is in tents. Climbs depart every Monday, except in the rainy season (April & May).

Best Kilimanjaro Climbing Iteneraries

Camps on the Machame route

The camps for the seven day Machame route are Machame, Shira, Barranco, Karanga Valley, Barafu and Millennium (or sometimes Mweka). A full description of each camp is below. 

Shira Camp - Machame route

Machame and Millennium Camp are on the tree line and have a number of campsites set in small clearings in the forest. The whole site can accommodate probably a hundred tents.

You will see a central ranger station and a number of brick toilets and long drop latrines. The air is quite humid and it's not too cold; being right in the trees you won't see lots of other people round the site.

Barranco Camp is at the head of the steep valley which drops down into the Umbwe route that goes all the way down to Moshi. Tucked up underneath the summit massif there are huge dramatic cliffs to see, some remains of hanging glaciers and often the whole of Kibo will be plastered in snow. Meanwhile looking down the valley you can see the lights of Moshi.

Baranco Camp - Machame route

Karanga Camp is very open and situated somewhat on a slope so make sure your tent is on a flat piece of ground. There are great views of the summit massif again and you can see the route to the summit quite easily.
Looking downhill you can see the lights of Moshi. Brick toilets and pit latrines again, a Rangers Hut and space for at least a hundred tents.

Shira Camp is situated on the vast Shira plateau which is a volcanic spill-off from the last explosion some 100,000 years ago. Open and exposed and often dusty with smaller, you will find more fragile plants among the rocks.

Brick toilets and latrines and Ranger huts are around and the area is so huge it is easy to spread out and have some privacy. Shira could accommodate hundreds of tents fairly easily. Expect it to be colder here, more windy potentially.

Top Machame route Iteneraries - Highly recommended

Kilimanjaro Mountain - Machame route FAQ

The approximately trekking distance for the Machame Route is 62 km or 37 miles the entire climb from trail head up to the summit and all the way down to Mweka gate. The shortest number of days required for Machame Route is 6 days, but by the time you have added on arrival and departure days it is 10.

There are several notable differences between the two routes.

Firstly, Machame route is the second most popular route on Kilimanjaro. It can be somewhat crowded in August-September and January-February. In contrast, Lemosho is still less visited, and will suit those who prefer more reclusive hiking.

Secondly, on Machame you will be going through the rainforest on the first day of your hike. On Lemosho this experience is available only on an 8-day climb, while 7 and 6-day variations start straight in the moorland zone.

Thirdly, Machame route climb is available in six and seven-day options. The first one is very physically taxing and features one of the worst acclimatization transitions of all. On the contrary, the shortest trek on Lemosho – six-day – provides good acclimatization possibility even for beginners.

Finally, because Machame trailhead is located on the southern face of Kilimanjaro, close to Moshi, the prices for Machame trek are usually less expensive than the Lemosho route.

We can measure each day in walking hours rather than kilometers. Most days, other than the summit day, will begin with breakfast around 6:30 AM and departure at 7 AM. You will walk four to five hours with a break for lunch followed by another hour or two of hiking in the afternoon. These days are not long or difficult and you will be advised to walk slowly.

We provide tents, camping gear, food, utensils, and leadership. You should bring your own sleeping bag, water system, personal clothing, light duffle bag, and day pack. Hiking poles can be rented.

A packing list is provided to all climbers, along with our pre-departure packet:

  1. • 1 mountaineering sleeping bag .
  2. • 2-3 liters water canteen (sturdy plastic or steel)
  3. • 1 LED flashlight with spare batteries
  4. • 1 Pair of comfortable trekking boots
  5. • 1 towel
  6. • 2 pairs of thick thermal socks and several pairs of regular socks
  7. • 2 fleece jackets
  8. • 1 down jacket or long-sleeved wind-breaker (down jacket is unnecessary if you have good fleece jackets)
  9. • 1 set of thermal underwear (i.e. thermal vest and long-johns)
  10. • 2 pairs of trekking trousers
  11.  1 waterproof jacket
  12. • 1 pair of waterproof trousers
  13. • 1 balaclava or ski-mask
  14. • 1 sun hat
  15. • 1 pair of sunglasses

Breakfast includes tea, coffee, milk, eggs, toast, porridge, cereals, bread, fruits, bacon, sausages, etc.

Lunch is a picnic lunch on the way the first day while it is hot lunch the next days with hot soups, bread, vegetables, fruits, salad, cookies, beef, chicken or fish, potatoes, pasta, or rice with sauce.

Dinner starts with hot soups, followed by the main course (pasta or rice, meat), desserts and ends with hot drinks.

The major sources of cost variations are the money spent on food, off-mountain accommodation, porter and guide wages, tents, and the cost of getting to the mountain. We are determined is determined to provide the best food, best guides and porters, best tents and equipment, top quality before-and-after-climb accommodation, a full professional pre-climb orientation, insurance for all staff and inclusion of all park permits, meals, transfers and local hosting costs. On some of the least expensive trips, food is minimal and often prepared by frying. 

As guides and porters are expected to cover part of their wages with tips, these companies cannot attract the best staff. Often, they do not provide full warm clothing to staff. The mountain is hard on tents which are expensive in Tanzania, meaning that tents on cheap trips are often worn or dirty.

Our approach is not to provide the cheapest trip, but rather to do everything we can to increase the likelihood you will reach the summit and enjoy the overall experience with a staff of people who are well qualified and compensated for the extraordinary assistance they provide to you.

We invite you report your issues/requests/questions to the Savannah Explorers office or to your guide during the hiking.  

YES! As we mentioned before, Kilimanjaro is suitable for beginners; they do very well. The best advice is for everyone to arrive in great shape. Don’t underestimate the climb because you know someone did it who you believe was not fit.

Most days are not very hard because the trails are not steep it’s mostly dealing with the altitude, however the summit night is extremely difficulty as this is the coldest, windiest section of your adventure. An ascent of 4,084ft with 49% less oxygen and a descent of nearly 6,870ft.

Kilimanjaro’s altitude is a significant challenge, but climbers do not need supplemental oxygen to climb Kilimanjaro or reach the summit. To reach to the summit you use the acclimatization method of walking slowly “pole pole” climb high, sleep low.

At the bottom of the mountain, the average temperature is around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius). At the peak that is Uhuru Peak, the temperatures falls between 20 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 to -29 degrees Celsius).

LOVED the Kili Climb! Very well organized, the food was amazing! FRESH fruits and veggies at every meal, and they even accommodated dietary restrictions!! GF, Vegan and dairy (just to name a few) in our group of 14! The morning ritual of GINGER TEA was my fav, for sure!!! Sandeep is a great team builder, the group or climbers were so amazing, helpful and cheery the entire time!!! I will climb with Trip Insight Tanzania again! Wish you could experience this for yourself, it is a once in a lifetime experience!!!
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