Machame, known as the “Whiskey” route, is now the most popular route on the mountain. Compared with Marangu, the days on Machame are longer and the walks are steeper. However, it is considered one of the better routes for acclimatization as it follows the mountaineering code of hiking high and sleeping low. The minimum number of days required for this route is six, although seven days is recommended for the highest opportunity to successfully reach the summit.
Climbers sleep in supplied tents at designated campsites, and eat meals either outdoors or inside a large dining tent. Porters set up all equipment at the campsite. Sleeping in individual tents allows for more privacy among the climbing group.
Machame is a scenically beautiful and varied route. Machame approaches from the southwest and descends using Mweka Route, rewarding climbers with views of the expansive Shira Plateau, an optional scramble up Lava Tower, a climb up the Great Barranco Wall, and a traverse underneath Kilimanjaro’s Southern Icefield.
Machame “Whiskey” Route Itinerary
A one-hour drive from Moshi lays the gate to the Machame route, where we complete park formalities, meet our crew of porters and start to climb! The first section of the route climbs steadily and involves real jungle-bashing through magnificent forest. This path is less well-trodden & often wet & muddy underfoot. We camp at Machame camp (3100 m) Trekking Time: 4-6 hours | Distance: 9 km | Altitude Gain: 1210 m
The route continues on up through the forest until we are at the steep ascent on the Shira Plateau, where there are rewarding views of the mountain. Looking back, you will be able to see Mt. Meru rising high above Arusha town. We camp at Shira caves (3840 m).
Trekking Time: 4-6 hours | Distance: 9 km | Altitude Gain: 740 m
Walking now on high moorland, the landscape changes the entire character of the trek. We traverse the southwest side of Kilimanjaro, passing underneath the Lava Tower and the final section of the Western Breach and finally reach camp at Barranco camp (3900 m). The day has been spent at altitude (up to 4600 m), but we have followed the mountaineering code of ‘walk high, sleep low’ to avoid altitude sickness by aiding our bodies in acclimatization.
Trekking Time: 6-7 hours | Distance: 15 km | Altitude Gain: 60 m
We start the day by descending into the start of the Great Barranco, a huge ravine. We then exit steeply, up what has been termed the Breakfast Wall, which divides us from the southeastern slopes of Kibo. It is a climb over rocks, not technical but long and tiring. Passing underneath the Heim and Kersten glaciers, we head towards the Karanga Valley (4000 m) for overnight.
Trekking Time: 5-7 hours | Distance: 5 km | Altitude Gain: 100 m
The day is characterized by a short hike on terrain formed by scree. We walk through arid and desolate land towards Barafu camp (4600 m).
Trekking Time: 2-4 hours | Distance: 4 km | Altitude Gain: 600 m
We avoid walking too long in the heat of the sun today by starting around midnight, walking steeply upwards to the Summit glaciers. You will be climbing scree for 5 to 6 hours but you gain incredible height over a short distance. The views are spectacular. We should be on the crater rim at Stella Point (5750 m) as the first rays of the sun emerge. Spectacular ice cliffs within the crater surround us and the views to Mawenzi peak and beyond are breathtaking. Another hour’s walk takes us to our goal, the summit of Uhuru (5896 m), the highest point; Uhuru means freedom in Swahili.
Trekking Time: 6-8 hours | Distance: 7 km| Altitude Gain: 1296 m
We begin the descent by returning to Stella Point and then descending on scree slope back to Barafu camp for breakfast and a rest before finally heading down to Millenium Camp (3000 m) for a well-earned rest. On our descent we have fabulous views of the plains and Mawenzi peak.
Trekking Time: 6-8 hours | Distance: 12 km | Altitude Loss: 2896 m
A gentle trek takes us down through the rainforest to the Mweka Gate (1640 m), where we complete park formalities, are met by our vehicles, receive your certificate of ascent courtesy of the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority and drive back to Moshi where you can treat yourself to a well- earned shower and a cold beer or two.
Trekking Time: 4-5 hours | Distance: 10 km | Altitude Loss: 1360 m