Kilimanjaro Machame Route
Kilimanjaro Machame route
The Machame route is regarded as a challenging camping route which allows for excellent acclimatisation and stunning diverse 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 summitting from Barafu Camp on day six, followed by descent back down to the gate on day 7.
From the start you will have experienced people who have climbed Kilimanjaro several times and can give an honest appraisal of the Kilimanjaro climb. This personal service extends to Tanzania where our country director Castro Kapela 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.
The Machame Route is a camping trip using 2 person mountain tents and qualified local guides who have received international outdoor first aid training and special altitude medical training. We use the same team of porters who carry the bags and equipment, and cooks provide fresh tasty food every day.
We run scheduled dates every month of the year, but we organise private dates at no extra cost. Group size is from two up to large groups.
Best time to climb Kilimanjaro
The climate on an equatorial mountain like this is split between wet and dry seasons. The rains come around April for about six weeks, and then again around October for a month. Global climate change has made the predictability of these rains harder, but during those weeks you can expect a build of cloud and some rain during the day which then clears during the afternoon and night. May to October and December to March are dry periods, but during the day it is very hot and humid on the lower sections in the forest so it is important to keep hydrated. The nights will be clear but cold.
Kilimanjaro stands alone as a mountain on the plains so it tends to have very predictable major weather patterns, with the cloud coming in during the day and then clearing at night. The cloud level comes up to Shira plateau and appears almost like the tide, surrounding the mountain with a sea of cloud. Above this, the mountain can generate its own weather systems so you can get high clouds, snow or very clear conditions. In general though, climbing through the night to reach the summit at dawn is a pretty good bet that you will get the clear views.
Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the highest peak in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. It is a strato volcano situated in a fork off the Great Rift Valley, right on the border with Kenya and Tanzania. 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 also one of the great Seven Summits peaks, being the highest mountains on each of the seven continents.
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.
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 - 7 hours of walking, and the distance reduces as you go higher. The height gain from the gate to the summit is 4157 metres.
Camps 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 campsites are dotted among nooks and crannies in the rocks, perched on a sort of ridge.
Clothing and equipment for climbing Kilimanjaro
There is nothing technical required to climb the mountain but it is important to be able to stay warm and dry and have good boots and a good sleeping bag. We provide tents with mattresses and all the campsite equipment, but you will have to bring your own clothing for seven days camping. The kit list does change a bit depending on whether you are going in the wet or dry season, but do always consider that the nights and especially summit night is very cold and requires a good thermal layer, fleece layers and a down type jacket. You will also need a good quality rainproof jacket and trousers in case it rains, plus we recommend gaiters to protect the tops of your boots.
In the rainy season around April and October, it is very likely there will be strong rainshowers for a few hours in the day. It's advisable to bring two pairs of boots, one leather waterproofed pair for the rain and mud, and another pair for when it's dry. You will also need a rucksack cover; some people bring ponchos that cover the rucksack as well as yourself.
Don't forget to keep your extremities warm and also protected from the sun, so warm hats and gloves plus a sunhat and god quality sunglasses. Take one set of thermals for when you need them and possibly also to wear in bed, and don't forget several pairs of socks and underwear. You can take T-shirts for wearing round the camp and on the trek, but cotton does not dry quickly so we recommend the quick-drying synthetic tops.
Boots really need to have ankle support and a good sole for grip and preventing you twisting a leg. The mountain has a lot of different terrain to cover and it will be important to support your feet well and also keep them warm. Lightweight trekking boots or shoes are lighter of course but they are not as warm and not as sturdy.
Sleeping bag needs to be rated to minus 10 and you may want to bring a liner too for extra warmth and just to keep the bag clean. Always go for a bag with a proper 'mummy' style hood which keeps your head warm at night.
In terms of equipment don't forget a headtorch, trekking poles (especially for the descent and if you feel uneasy going down or you have susceptible knees), battery power packs for phones and electronic items, a first aid kit with the basics including ibruprofen for altitude headaches, and some basic toiletries.
You can read the full kit list for Kilimanjaro and also you can hire a lot of the items through this website. We can also obtain items for you incountry when you arrive.
Why us for climbing Kilimanjaro?
We support and invest in Adventure Alternative Tanzania which has been based in Moshi at the foot of Kilimanjaro since 2001 and we are well known locally for looking after staff well, paying good salaries on time (with no deductions) and being fair employers. The company has been managed by Castro Kapela since the start and he has worked with us for many years to create a very ethically minded outfit.
- We are a mountain company run by mountaineers
- We take safety on Kilimanjaro seriously and our staff are first aid trained and qualified
- We have a 95% success rate to the summit because of a seven day minimum policy which assists proper acclimatisation
- We 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!
Is Kilimanjaro right for me?
Climbing Kilimanjaro is an incredible experience. However, like with any challenge, there will be some bumps along the way. One thing to remember is that things in Africa happen at a different pace. You may feel like things are a bit chaotic, but it is the normal way of life here. Things do not always work and conditions might not be what you would expect at home. However, the people are very friendly and keen to help.
It is not surprising to see people begging. Please do not give in and perpetuate this damaging practice. Tips are customary but should be given to Castro at the gate on the last day for distribution. This is much better than giving individuals money privately or secretly, which some people do because they think they're doing it 'right', but this is never the case and it always causes problems long after you have left. We have a system in the company which the staff understand and recognise and like, and Castro is a good and honest boss who will not exploit the staff.
If you would like to learn more about some of the difficulties of spending many days in a mountain camp, see our Mountain Realities page.
Mawenzi Peak on Kilimanjaro peaking out above the morning clouds.
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)
|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 hours, 10 kms||Transport to Machame Gate (1 hour, 1790m). Registration (sometimes it can take an hour or so before the park allows everyone to enter, they have to weigh all the porters bags first). Trek to Machame Camp through beautiful montane forest on good path. Camp overnight at the edge of the forest.|
|4||2980m - 3840m||6-7 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||7-8 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 height gain is only about 100 metres.|
|6||3950m - 3950m||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 and ice, 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 but 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 and 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||2018 New Moon||2018 Full Moon|
|Jan||16||1 & 31|
|March||17||1 & 31|
Kilimanjaro Machame route 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
- Trip administrator, translator
- Meals on the mountain - fresh food, 3 meals per day
- UK correspondence and advice and pre-trip organisation
- International airfare to Kilimanjaro Airport
- Airport transfers (£10/$15 per person one way paid in cash in-country)
- Tanzanian Visa ($50 for most passports & $100 for USA citizens, purchased on arrival)
- Vaccinations and anti malaria tablets
- Personal expenses, eg taxis into town, bottled water in Moshi, local rentals
- Travel insurance
- Lunch and dinners in Moshi (~£30)
- Tips (~£80 paid in local Tanzanian Shillings for distribution at the exit gate)
We ask for a deposit on booking and the balance 6 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. 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:
Local Providers for this trip is Adventure Alternative Tanzania which is licensed under the Adventure Alternative trademark. We provide full employment for our subsidiary company alongside excellent rates of pay, equipment, training and career development.
You can book your Adventure Alternative holiday for as little as £100.00 and pay the balance in as many instalments as you like. Choose a scheduled date or contact us for private dates, a bespoke itinerary or more trip details.
- Duration 10 days
- Numbers 3 - 20
- Altitude 5895m
- Distance 64 kms
- Challenge Moderate
- Comfort Camping