Kilimanjaro Machame Route
The Machame route is seven days and camping only, this route is regarded as a challenging wilderness route but allows for excellent acclimatisation and stunning scenery. It takes 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 6. Exit through Mweka Gate on day 7. Great opportunity to see diverse vegetation and wide-eyed views, this route accounts for 40% of visitors on the mountain.
You can get a sense of the route from the image below or by pasting the following lat/long GPS coordinates into Google Earth or Google Maps yourself:
- Machame Gate 3°10'21.27"S 37°14'9.23"E
- Machame Camp 3° 5'42.65"S 37°15'58.75"E
- Shira Plateau Camp 3° 4'2.01"S 37°16'36.09"E
- Lava Tower 3° 4'15.04"S 37°19'10.44"E
- Barranco Camp 3° 5'50.68"S 37°19'35.61"E
- Karanga Valley Camp 3° 6'39.24"S 37°21'8.80"E
- Barafu Camp 3° 5'57.62"S 37°22'41.10"E
- Stella Point 3° 4'41.06"S 37°21'46.49"E
- Uhuru Point 3° 4'32.99"S 37°21'10.53"E
- Millenium Camp 3° 7'54.90"S 37°22'19.49"E
- Mweka Gate 3°13'6.12"S 37°20'16.98"E
Kilimanjaro Machame route - daily elevation, sleeping altitude and distance covered
The terrain on Kilimanjaro varies throughout; in a period of seven days, traversing the mountain, 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 scree, which is usually frozen solid on the way up but can be loose and unrelenting if not, especially on the descent when your knees or toes may suffer. It is a good idea to have a knee support in your first aid kit and to consider using trekking poles.
The entire climb and descent covers just over 38 - 50 miles depending on which route you choose and the routes traverse as well as ascend the mountain. Generally speaking each day will take about 5 hours of walking, the distance reduces as you go higher. However, don't let the actual distances deceive you, at high altitude and on steep terrain they are not, in themselves, a very good guide to how long it will take or how difficult you will find it. For example, the last mile or less round the crater rim is almost flat but it can often take up to an hour to complete.
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.
Kilimanjaro Machame route camp descriptions
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.