Climb Kilimanjaro Machame Route
|Overview||Video||Brief itinerary||Route map||How long is the route?||Altitude profile||Camp description||Clothing needed|
The Machame route on Kilimanjaro is a seven day camping route which allows for excellent acclimatisation and particularly diverse scenery. It has been called the Whiskey route in the past and nowadays about 35% of all climbers on the mountain use it.
In a matter of days you will climb Kilimanjaro from the equator up to an Arctic zone, moving through grasslands, tropical rainforest, alpine meadows, moorlands and high desert to snow and ice. Each day on this route presents quite a distinct ecosystem to experience, which is one reason it is so popular.
The other reason is that the seven day programme begins on the south west side of the mountain and traverses around to the south east side, enabling you to sleep at the same altitude for three consecutive nights which significantly aids altitude acclimatisation. This means that our summit success rate on this route is quite high at around 85%.
We only run seven day trips on Kilimanjaro which is the recommended minimum number of days by all the international mountain associations such as the UIAA (International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation), plus our own assessment of mountain safety. The Machame route could be done in six days by missing out Karanga Valley and going straight to Barafu, but experience tells us that this leads to increased sickness and a much lower summit success rate.
From the start you will be speaking with experienced people who have climbed Kilimanjaro many times, including Gavin Bate who has been leading groups on the mountain regularly since 1994 and is always on hand for advice. We can give you an honest appraisal of the climb, about training for the mountain and what clothing and equipment you will need to buy or rent. This personal service extends to our staff iin Tanzania where AA Tanzania co-ordinator Castro Kapela will meet you and give a team briefing along with our guides.
(courtesy film maker Elia Saikaly)
- Day 1 is the arrival in Tanzania as advertised on the booking page (or your custom dates)
- Day 2 is for resting, hydrating and briefing, with time to pick up rental items and buy any snacks in town.
- Days 3 to 9 is the climb period (arriving back in hotel by mid afternoon). If we break these seven days down:
3. Moshi to Machame Gate and hike to Machame Camp
4. Machame Camp to Shira Camp
5. Shira Camp to Barranco Camp
6. Barranco Camp to Karanga Valley Camp
7. Karanga Valley Camp to Barafu Camp
8. Baradu Camp to Uhuru Peak and descend via Barafu down to Millennium Camp or Mweka Camp
9. Descend to Mweka Gate and transfer back to hotel.
- Day 10 is departure day or the start of any safari, such as the 4D3N Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire and Manyara Parks.
See the day by day detailed on the next tab, which you can also print off.
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.
The picture below 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 picture below shows the route from Karanga Camp at 3900 metres to Barafu Camp ("ice") at 4600m and the long walk to the summit at 5895 metres.
Frequently Asked Questions
The entire climb up and down is approximately 62 km/ 37 miles from gate to gate. The height gain from the gate to the summit is 4157 metres, which is ascended over six days of around 5-7 days walking each day.
The seven day route on Machame allows for a first night at 3000m, then the following three nights at around 3900m, then the final camp at 4600m at midnight on day 6. Summit day involves ascending 1385m to Uhuru Peak and then descending all the way down to 3800m. Day 7 is then a descent through forest to the gate.
Day Start Level Daily High Point Sleep Level Camp name
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
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.
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.
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. The views of the summit massif are really amazing, especially at dawn and dusk, and it's worth getting up in the night if there is a full moon to see it rise behind the summit.
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. The campsite has brick toilets and latrines (long drops), a Rangers hut of course, and there is a lot of plant life here so it's green and verdant, especially the giant groundsels which can grow several metres tall. The camp can take over a hundred tents quite easily but space is limited so you can sometimes expect to walk a distance to find your tent.
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. It can be cold and windy here, and the cloud can come and go very fast. Water is a problem at this camp, the porters have to walk forty minutes back down the trail to the nearest stream.
Many people go direct from Barranco to the next camp Barafu in one day in order to climb Kilimanjaro in six days, so Karanga is a half-way stop, but it's well worth the additional acclimatisation.
Barafu, meaning ‘ice’ in Swahili, is the final camp at 4600m. It is 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 often wind. The campsites are dotted among nooks and crannies in the rocks, running the length of the ridge. Some camps are far below the Rangers hut and the start of the summit climb, so it can add more than half an hour to the ascent. With brick toilets and latrines, the facilities are now good but water is in short supply so the porters are forced to travel back downhill to the nearest stream. The Rangers here have large heavy duty stretchers at hand which have a single wheel underneath, so it's possible to get people down quickly. There is also a helipad at the camp.
You can read more on our main climbing Kilimanjaro page about the weather and climate, difficulty and experience needed for the trip, and books and maps you might want to buy in advance.
You can read the full packing list for Kilimanjaro and also you can hire a lot of the items through this website when you book. We can also obtain items for you in-country when you arrive. There is more information on this blog about what to wear on Kilimanjaro and something on preparing for a trip to Kilimanjaro, and more advice on kit for Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru.
A day pack of about 40 litres is perfect to carry on the Machame route and each day will be a little bit different as to what goes inside it. Water bottles, rain gear, a few spare clothes, gloves and hat, sunscreen and lipsalve, snacks and camera equipment are all usual things to carry. The weight of your day pack should not be more than about 5-6 kgs; as you go higher, the weight will seem heavier and harder to carry. Meanwhile your main duffle bag will be carried by the porters.
You may want an umbrella for showers and to keep off the sun on a still day. Trekking poles are also useful but you don't need to use them all the time. A flask for hot drinks is very useful on summit night, as is a headtorch. Also a rucksack cover or even a poncho to cover yourself and your bag. Some people bring mini spikes to put on their boots for summit night when it can be very slippy, but this is optional.
Machame route day by day programme
|1||Arrive into Tanzania. Most people fly into Kilimanjaro airport either directly or via Kenya. Overnight in Keys Annexe Hotel in Moshi Town.|
|2||900m||Day in Moshi, meet the AA Tanzania staff and have time for hiring equipment or relaxing in the hotel. This is a good day to hydrate fully for the start the next day.|
|3||900m - 1790m - 2980m||5 hours, 10 kms||Transport to Machame Gate (1 hour up to 1790m). Registration (sometimes it can take a few hours or so for this process). 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, heading upwards towards the open rock and colder temperatures. Barafu means 'ice' in Swahili and the camping is amongst the rocks. Early dinner.|
|8||4550m - 5895m - 2800m||7 hours up, 6 hours down, 18 kms||Summit day. Night-time ascent on rock and scree, snow and ice, to the crater rim and the summit. Expect cold temperatures with windchill. The final slope to the crater rim and Stella Point has loose scree and is very slow. From Stella Point it is a further 45 minutes up the escarpment to the summit of Uhuru.
Descend in sunlight to Barafu for early lunch, and then walk down to Millennium Camp, normally arriving mid-afternoon.
|9||2800m - 900m||4-6 hours, 11 kms||Millennium to Mweka Gate. Descend 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, although sometimes this is done at the hotel. A hot shower and an afternoon relaxing.
|10||Either start the safari or depart home.|
Full moon dates on Kilimanjaro 2020
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 head torch to ascend.
|Month||2020 New Moon||2020 Full Moon|
|Oct||16||2 & 31|
Other notable dates:
Valentines Day Summit on Sunday 14th February 2021: Start climb on Tuesday 9th Feb
New Years Day Summit on Friday 1st January 2021: Start climb on Sunday 27th December
Kilimanjaro Machame land only cost £1895.00
- Accommodation in Moshi for 3 nights in the Keys Annexe Hotel (twin, B&B)
- 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) who are outdoor first aid qualified
- Porters and cooks, plus equipment and tents for them
- All camping equipment including sleeping tents with mattresses
- Trip administrator
- Meals on the mountain - fresh food, 3 meals per day
- Oxygen bottles and masks, mountain shelter and portable stretcher on every trip
- UK correspondence and advice and pre-trip organisation
- Airport transfers (£40/$50 per vehicle one way) must be requested in advance through the office
- 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, kit rental, meals in Moshi
- Tips (~£90 paid in local Tanzanian Shillings for distribution at the exit gate)
Notes on the price of this trip
We do not operate kitties so the trip cost includes all the main costs except personal expenses.
We use a very good hotel in town with which we have built up a strong relationship for the past twenty years.
Your money is protected by our financial bonding and we are a secure and well established company.
We run scheduled dates and groups which normally number between two and ten. Private dates are at no extra cost but there is a supplement for single travellers.
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.
The local Provider for this trip is Adventure Alternative Tanzania which is licensed under the Adventure Alternative trademark and provides excellent rates of pay, high quality equipment and training for the staff.
Choose a scheduled date or contact us to set up private dates or a bespoke itinerary. The minimum deposit is £100.00 and the balance is due six weeks before travel.