Kilimanjaro Climb by the Machame Route


Kilimanjaro Climb

Over the last three decades of running climbs on Mount Kilimanjaro the Machame route has become our most popular. The Machame route is regarded as a challenging wilderness route which allows for excellent acclimatisation and stunning scenery. It takes a total of seven days with five days ascending through the forest from Machame Gate on the southwest side of the mountain, circling the massif, and summiting from Barafu Camp on day six, followed by descent back down to the gate on day 7. This Kilimanjaro trek gives a great opportunity to see diverse vegetation and landscapes along this route with jaw dropping views.

From the start you will have experienced people who love the outdoors to talk to in the office, all of them have climbed Kilimanjaro several times and can give an honest appraisal of the Kilimanjaro climb. This personal service extends to Tanzania where our in country director Castro will give a team briefing along with our head guide and cook and be on hand all the time. He will introduce you to the guides who all speak good English and understand that this is more than a holiday, it is a personal dream to summit the roof of Africa.

Kilimanjaro from Adventure Alternative on Vimeo.

About Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the highest peak in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. At 5895 metres, to climb Kilimanjaro is a great challenge, not to be underestimated, but entirely feasible for the hill walker looking to combine a high mountain adventure with going to Africa. It is one of the great Seven Summits peaks. 

Kilimanjaro translates to “mountain of the springs” and its unique position just below the equator offers an opportunity to experience five different habitats from bottom to top, which makes an ascent of the mountain undeniably special. In a matter of days you’ll climb Kilimanjaro from the equator to what feels like the Arctic, moving through grasslands, tropical rainforest, alpine meadows, moorlands and desert uplands to snow and ice.

The Machame Route is a camping trip for an average group size of 4 (we can take up to a maximum of 50 people but this is usually only for organised private groups; most team sizes are 3 - 6 people) using quality mountain tents, and qualified local guides who work with us full time, porters who carry the bags and equipment, and cooks who provide fresh, tasty food every day. The average ratio of guide:climber is 1:2 - this does change slightly depending on numbers of climbers.

We also run climbs up all of the routes up Kilimanjaro with regular climbs of the Lemosho route, Rongai route, Northern Circuit route and arrange private treks on the Marangu or Shira route. We also organise bespoke Kilimanjaro climbs to include climbs up the Western Breach, overnights in Crater Camp and also many charity climbs.

Distance of the trek on Kilimanjaro

The entire climb and descent covers just over 38 - 50 miles depending on which route you choose and the routes traverse the mountain, except for the Marangu which requires ascent and descent on the same path. Generally speaking each day will take about 5 hours of walking, and the distance reduces as you go higher. 

Camp heights and altitudes reached on Kilimanjaro

Day           Start Level    Daily High Point    Sleep Level  Camp
Day One      1830m          3000m                3000m         Machame
Day Two       3000m          3850m                3850m         Shira
Day Three    3850m          4560m                3950m         Barranco
Day Four      3950m          4200m                3950m         Karanga
Day Five      3950m          4600m                4600m          Barafu
Day Six       4600m          5985m                3800m          Millennium
Day Seven   3800m         3800m                1830m      

Machame and Millennium Camp are on the tree line and have a number of campsites set in small clearings in the forest. You will see a central ranger station and a number of drop-hole latrines. Mobile coverage here and it is quite easy to descend back to the gate if necessary. 

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, more fragile plants amongst the rocks. Latrines and Ranger huts are around and the area is so huge it is easy to have some privacy. Meanwhile the Horombo Huts are busy with people and Mawenzi Tarn is very quiet and remote.

Barranco Camp is in a big clearing at the head of the steep valley which drops down into the Umbwe route, with dramatic cliffs around and right below the ice fields of Kibo, a stunning location for a camp. 

Karanga Camp is a very open camp on the side of a hillside with great views of the summit massif and the expanse of land beyond the mountain. Many people go direct from Barranco to Barafu, so Karanga is traditionally a bit of half-way stop, but there are still latrines and a Ranger hut here.

Barafu, meaning ‘ice’, is now no longer covered in permanent snow but it is cold and rocky and exposed. People definitely feel the altitude here and you can expect snow and sometimes high wind. The camp sites are dotted amongst nooks and crannies in the rocks, perched on a sort of ridge.

Do please check out the More Information Tab to the right which has loads of information about fitness levels, training for Kilimanjaro, trekking seasons, altitude sickness etc.

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Mount Kilimanjaro Machame route itinerary

  • Arrival on day one as advertised following the Kilimanjaro trip preparation
  • Briefing and rest on day two
  • Climb period on days three to nine (arriving back in hotel by mid afternoon). Check our Kilimanjaro maps for routes and elevations. 
  • Depart on day ten or go on four day/three night safari (Ngorongoro, Tarangire, Manyara - lodge or camping or local hotel)

DayElevationTravel TimeInfo
1     This is the day which you should arrive into Tanzania. Most people fly into Kilimanjaro airport either directly or via Kenya. Others travel overland from Kenya. We can collect you from Kilimanjaro airport or assist you to travel from Kenya. Overnight in Keys Annexe Hotel in Moshi Town.
2 900m   Briefing day in Moshi Town, meet the AA Tanzania staff and have time for hiring equipment or relaxing in the hotel.
3 900m - 1790m - 2580m 5-7 hours, 10 kms Transport to Machame Gate (1 hour 1790m). Registration. Trek to Machame Camp through beautiful montane forest on good path. Camp overnight at the edge of the forest.
4 2980m - 3840m 5-7 hours, 7 kms Machame Camp to Shira Plateau uphill through thinning forest and onto a huge volcanic plateau. Camping is more exposed here with great views of the summit massif.
5 3840m - 3950m 5-7 hours, 10 kms Shira Camp to Barranco Camp traversing two valleys skirting the base of the summit massif. High desert environment with amazing rock formations, quite exposed to the weather, dropping into the Barranco Valley right beneath the Western Breach. This day ascends a maximum of 700 metres but the net gain is only about 100 metres.
6 3950m - 3950m 4-5 hours, 4 kms Barranco Camp to Karanga Valley, starting with a scramble over the Barranco Wall and over a further two valleys to get to this open campsite with great views of the Heim Glacier. Another up and down day but no net gain in height, which is all good for acclimatisation.
7 3950m - 4550m 4-5 hours, 4 kms Karanga Valley to Barafu Camp, now heading more directly upwards towards the open rock and colder temperatures. This is the average freezing level on the mountain and Barafu means 'ice'. Camping in amongst the rocks and an early night.
8 4550m - 5895m - 2800m 7 hours up, 6 hours down, 18 kms Night-time ascent on rock and scree, occasional snow, to the crater rim and the summit. Cold temperatures with windchill. Final slope to the crater rim is steeper and has loose scree. Descend in sunlight to Barafu for early lunch, and then walk to Millennium Camp, normally arriving mid-afternoon.
9 2800m - 900m 4-6 hours, 11 kms Descending through the lush forest to Mweka Gate where you sign out and pick up the summit certificate. Legs will be tired! Meet Castro at the gate for transport back to the hotel, arriving normally at about 2pm. The gate is where tips are handed out and you say goodbye to the mountain staff. A hot shower and an afternoon relaxing before an overnight in the hotel
10     Either start your safari or depart home.

When to Climb Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro can be climbed all year round. The main seasons are traditionally December to March and June to October, and these are popular times to climb with temperatures in Moshi averaging 22 degrees C and summit temperatures around - 7 degrees C. The rains are in April, May and November but nowadays climate change has changed this pattern and some times the rains don't come or come at differing times of year. During the rains we run our Rongai climbs as the northern side of the mountain is more sheltered then. December is getting warmer again with clear skies. Do check the information on weather and also full & new moons to decide on your preferred time to visit.

Full and New Moon dates on Kilimanjaro

Choose your dates to coincide with full or new moons. Kilimanjaro is on the equator so star gazing is particularly beautiful with both north and south constellations visible on a moonless night. On the night of a full moon, you don't need a headtorch to ascend. 

Month  2017 New Moon 2017 Full Moon 2018 New Moon 2018 Full Moon


12 16 1 & 31
Feb 26 10 15 n/a
March 27 12 17 1 & 31
April 26 11 15 29
May 25 10 15 29
June 23 9 13 27
July 23 8 12 27
Aug 21 7 11 26
Sept 19 6 9 25
Oct 19 5 8 24
Nov 18 3 7 23
Dec 18 3 7 22

Other notable dates:
Valentines Day Summit: 7th Feb
New Years Eve / Day Summit: 25th Dec 

Distance of the trek on Kilimanjaro

The entire climb and descent covers just over 38 - 50 miles depending on which route you choose and the routes traverse the mountain, except for the Marangu which requires ascent and descent on the same path. Generally speaking each day will take about 5 hours of walking, and the distance reduces as you go higher. 

Heights of camps on Kilimanjaro

Day           Start Level    Daily High Point    Sleep Level
Day One      1830m          3000m                3000m
Day Two       3000m          3850m                3850m
Day Three    3850m          4560m                3950m
Day Four      3950m          4200m                3950m
Day Five      3950m          4600m                4600m
Day Six       4600m          5985m                3800m
Day Seven   3800m         3800m                1830m

 Kilimanjaro viewed from a distance


 Mount Kilimanjaro cost £1895.00


  • Full ground price for the Machame Route
  • Accommodation in Moshi for 3 nights in the Keys Annexe Hotel (twin, B&B)
  • Jeep or coach transport to the mountain gate from and to Moshi
  • Park fees, camping fees and park rescue fees
  • Park certified guides (ratio of 1:2 or 1:3 depending on team size and company reps
  • Porters and cooks, plus equipment and tents for them
  • All camping equipment including sleeping tents with mattresses
  • Expedition administrator, translator and Manager
  • Meals on the mountain - fresh food, 3 meals per day
  • UK administration and organisation of your trip


  • International airfare to Kilimanjaro Airport
  • Airport transfers (£10/$15 per person one way)
  • Tanzanian Visa ($50 for most passports & $100 for USA citizens, purchased on arrival)
  • Vaccinations and malaria tablets (~£50+)
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance (~£40)
  • Lunch and dinners in Moshi (~£30)
  • Tips (~£80 paid in local Tanzanian Shillings for distribution at exit gate)

We ask for a deposit of £250 on booking and the balance 4 weeks prior to your trip start date. When you book a trip with us you set up an online account which you can sign into to make interim payments and spread the cost.

Our prices are competitive and we offer an excellent service and a strong stance on tourism in a developing country. We don’t run cheap trips that promote the practise of skimming budgets would result in the porters getting next to nothing. Current National Park and camping fees are included in our trip fee and are circa USD$120 per person per day, which makes Kilimanjaro an expensive peak to visit. Reducing the number of days may make the price cheaper but the chances of summiting reduce to around 50% and it is potentially dangerous. 

We include lots of support staff plus one guide for every two or three climbers (ratios change depending on the number if climbers but our guide to climber ratio is never greater than 1:3). We do not operate kitties and we use a very good hotel in town with which we have built up a strong relationship for the past twenty years.

We have our own license to operate tours on Mount Kilimanjaro and are a member of the local Tanzanian Association of Tour Operators.

Travel Insurance - We advise you to take out your insurance as soon as possible to cover potential events that might cause you to cancel your trip.

You need to ensure that you have a policy which covers trekking to 5895m, helicopter rescue and cancellation, but it does not need to cover technical climbing. You should bring with you a copy of your policy and ensure your tent mate knows where you keep it. Many of our clients use Sports Cover Direct - link to them by clicking the banner below:

Sports Travel Insurance

Local Providers for this trip is Adventure Alternative Tanzania. We provide full employment for our subsidiary company alongside excellent rates of pay, equipment, training and career development.


Terrain on Mount Kilimanjaro

The terrain on Kilimanjaro varies throughout; in a period of seven days, traversing the mountain over 38 miles, ascending from 2000m to 5895m and back down, you will pass through cultivated farmland, equatorial forest and alpine heath, across a lunar-like volcanic desert and up to a glaciated summit. Climbing Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb and there are no precipitous drops along the way, no rock climbing or specialist equipment needed.

The paths are in good condition and well trodden; some are steeper than others (in particular the Great Barranco Wall is an exciting scramble) and you will most likely meet people all along the way. On summit day the path is mostly screed, which can be loose and unrelenting, especially on the descent when your knees will probably suffer.

Experience for Mount Kilimanjaro

Climbing Kilimanjaro is a non-technical trek but it does offer a full mountaineering experience. Experience in hill walking is a benefit but not absolutely necessary, since this is a supported climb. You will have however be outdoors constantly and living in tents so any sort of experience with camping will be useful and a good level of training is expected, especially on the thigh and calf muscles. 

It is not necessary to have any experience of high altitude to climb Kilimanjaro, and there is nowhere in the United Kingdom or Ireland to possibly train for it. The important factor will be to go slowly and allow your metabolism to adapt to the lower air pressure and the thinner air, and be aware of altitude health at all times. 

Support on Mount Kilimanjaro

The staff will carry your main bag up to a maximum weight of 15 kgs plus all the tents, kitchen equipment, food, fuel, tables and chairs. They will cater for all the group needs, providing excellent meals and putting up the tents. The guides will also brief you daily on the climb.

Castro Capelo is our operations manager in Moshi and Director of Adventure Alternative Tanzania. He organises all the staff, equipment, permits and hotel arrangements. You will have his telephone number, or the staff at the hotel desk can call him for you. He is organiser, translator, problem-solver, advisor and the main link between you and the UK office. He talks to the guides every day on the mountain and can make arrangements while you are up high.

You also have continued support from the main office in Northern Ireland. Should a problem arise of significant proportion then you only need to call us.

Visit our blog on fitness for climbing Kilimanjaro


Mount Kilimanjaro kit list

  • Strong, waterproof duffle bag or rucksack for your main gear
  • Waterproof day sack of about 30 -40 litres for carrying your daily needs
  • Sleeping bag rated down to -10° Celsius or more if you get cold easily
  • Sturdy hiking boots with ankle support, and a sole that does not bend too easily. Gore-Tex lined fabric boots are fine but not quite as warm as leather. Gaiters are advised also.
  • Waterproof windbreaker and trousers, preferably breathable, with a hood and big enough to accommodate several layers beneath
  • Down jacket or a heavy duty fleece for warmth especially on summit night
  • Thermal underwear or long johns for summit night
  • Balaclava or insulated warm hat, insulated gloves or mittens and thermal inner gloves
  • Sun hat, sun lotion, SPF lip screen and sunglasses
  • Trekking clothes - trousers and shorts, shirts and T-shirts, jumper or midlayer fleece, underwear and several pairs of hiking socks, trainers or sandals
  • Water bottle and/or camel back (take a protective cover for the mouthpiece) and water purification tablets (optional, iodine-based is fine)
  • Head torch with spare batteries
  • Trekking poles (especially useful for coming down from the summit)
  • Personal wash kit include a nail brush, moisturising cream, a small towel, tweezers, soap, nail clippers and wet wipes
  • Variety of waterproof bags - for dirty clothes, sleeping bag and things to keep dry
  • Personal first aid includes aspirin, Nurofen, plasters, Germolene, Immodium, strepsils and prescription medicines for possible gastric problems
  • Passport, insurance papers, spending money, air tickets, 2 pin (round) plug adaptor, spare batteries for digital cameras, reading books and maps, diary, pen

Rental items for Mount Kilimanjaro

You can rent sleeping bags directly from us and add them when booking, or by logging into your account at a later date. It's also possible to hire other equipment in Moshi directly from our staff such as walking poles, torches or anything that you may have forgotten. 

Comfortable foam mattresses are provided, there is no need to bring a Therm-A-Rest or camp mat for the mountain.

Why Us

Why us for climbing Kilimanjaro?

 We run our own company in Tanzania which is based in Moshi at the foot of Kilimanjaro called Adventure Alternative Tanzania and our dedicated team provide an excellent service.

  • We are a mountain company run by mountaineers
  • We take safety on Kilimanjaro seriously and our staff are trained to deal properly with emergencies 
  • We have a 95% success rate to the summit because of a seven day minimum policy which assists proper acclimatisation
  • We do not outsource our trips to the cheapest local operator. Instead we run our own company in Tanzania and invest in our staff directly. Our guides have worked with for us for over a decade.
  • All the staff in our UK office have climbed Kilimanjaro so you can chat to people who understand what it is like to go up for the first time, before you go. We spend time on the phone and we are happy to make personal visits to meet groups or individuals where possible. We provide all the Kilimanjaro facts, under the gloss!
  • We are passionate about responsible tourism and our company supports sustainable development in Tanzania and Kenya in a real way. We have won the World Responsible Tourism Awards twice now.
  • Financial security is guaranteed as we are fully financially bonded so your money is secure

All of the guides have been employed for over ten years with us, and they have been trained to our high standards personally by Director and high altitude climber Gavin Bate, who has climbed Kilimanjaro over forty times and is a guide on Everest. They know how to deal with medical emergencies and speak good English. They are very attentive and after so many years have a good understanding of western needs. They all have the necessary KINAPA cards (Kilimanjaro National Park qualification).

We give our staff in excess of the recommended wage and provide clothing, food and tents for all of our staff and porters. We have proven policies for payment and tipping. This means that you are not hassled by people looking for handouts at the end of the trip, and the staff themselves are happier. We also provide a development programme for the guides and cooks, including first aid training and regular visits from International Mountain Leaders to help improve service and mountain management. If you want to climb Kilimanjaro then you can be assured that you are with a great, proven and experienced team!

High above the clouds on Kilimanjaro




Open trips or tailor made dates at no extra cost. 
£250 deposit and the balance in instalments.
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I wanted to send along a couple of quick notes on how much we enjoyed our trip to Kilimanjaro. Castro was an incredible …

Read More Shriya Palekar

Our main worry before we left was my dietary needs. Your chefs were absolutely brilliant.  Myself and Lisa were the only…

Read More Paula M
Staff Review

This is a classic climb on the camping Machame route over seven days and with two nights at the same altitude which gives us 95% summit success. Here is a Trip Advisor review from a satisfied client.

Key Information
  • Duration 10 days
  • Numbers 3 - 20
  • Altitude 5895m
  • Distance 64 kms
  • Challenge Moderate
  • Comfort Camping