Albeit a bit steeper, the Machame route is often considered to the most beautiful route up Kilimanjaro. Where accommodation on the Marangu route is in huts, accommodation on the Machame route is in tents, which are included in the cost of the climb. However, like with all other routes, porters carry all of your equipment and supplies and a cook prepares all your meals. The Machame route is also referred to as the "Whiskey route", and offers one views of incredible late afternoon sunsets at Shira Camp, to breathtaking views of Kibo as the later afternoon mists clear. The Machame route is normally completed in a minimum of 6 days and follows the acclimatization principle of "climb high and sleep low" For this reason, the Machame route takes you from 3200m at Shira Camp, high to Lava Tower (4630m) on the third day and back down again to 3950 for an overnight stay at Barranco camp (3950m)
8 Days/ 7 NightsSpringlands - Machame Camp - Shira - Barranco Camp - Barafu Camp - Kilimanjaro - Mweka Camp
Day 1: Springlands
Arrive Kilimanjaro Airport and transfer to the hotel (Springlands).
Day 2: Machame Gate (1490m) - Machame camp (2980m)
Hiking time: 4-6 hours
Distance: About 18 km's
Habitat: Montane forest
Your day starts around 06h00 with breakfast, after which you settle up your accounts and board the bus for Moshi to collect provisions and meet your guide. You will receive a pack lunch and you can also buy mineral water in Moshi before heading off to Machame village (1490m) and onto Machame gate. The trip is about 45 minutes. If the area has had excessive rains, your climb will start at Machame village, which is about 3km before the gate. After registering at the gate office, you will start your ascent around 11h00 and immediately enter the rain forest. Rain in the forest is possible although the paths are in very good condition having been re-worked in 2005. About half way, you will stop for lunch before continuing up to Machame camp in the late afternoon.
The porters will generally arrive at the camp ahead of you to prepare your tents, boil drinking and a bowl of washing water and prepare dinner. On arrival you will probably be greeted with fresh popcorn and a warm drink. Night temperatures can easily drop to around 2 degrees so it is important to be prepared.
Day 3: Machame camp (2980m) - Shira camp (3840m)
Hiking time: 4-6 hours
Distance: About 9 km's
You will head out of Machame camp around 08h30 after breakfast, having packed your kit. You will climb quite steeply for about an hour until you are above the forest area and then follow a more gently gradient toward the base Shira Plateau. After a short steeper walk, you will head up the rocky outcrop and probably stop for lunch, before heading in an easterly direction, towards Shira Camp. The camp is situated on the ridge above you at about 3840m, due west of Kibo.
In the late afternoon as soon as the mists clear, you will be afforded incredible views of Kibo and the western breach with its incredible glaciers. Be prepared for magnificent sunsets over Shira, looking across to Mt Meru. Temperatures here will drop to about -5 degrees C.
Day 4: Shira (3840m)-Lava Tower (4630m)-Barranco camp (3950m)
Hiking time: 6-8 hours
Distance: About 15 km's
Habitat: Semi alpine desert
After breakfast, you will quickly leave the moorland scrub behind and enter into a moonscape of semi-alpine desert, while you hike constantly upwards toward Lava Tower, and impressive structure near the base of Arrow Glacier, at 4600m.
Around 4200m, you may start to feel the effects of altitude with shortness of breath and irritability, assuming it had not taken effect earlier on the climb. Walking slowly and maintaining a good rhythm is essential. You still stop for lunch either before or at Lava Tower. If you are energetic, it is advisable to climb the tower, as the views of the surrounding plans are incredible.
After Lava Tower, your route will head down by almost 680m to the Barranco camping. This is the day where you will follow the principle of climb high and sleep low. Barranco camp is situated in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall, which should provide you with a memorable sunset while you wait for the preparation of your dinner.
Day 5: Barranco camp (3950m)- Barafu camp (4550m)
Hiking time: 5-7 hours
Distance: About 13 km's
Habitat: Alpine desert
Early morning, you will head up the impressive Great Barranco Wall - a climb much easier than anticipated. This will bring you out below Heim Glacier. The route then heads down through the Karanga Valley over several ridges and valleys where you will see the magnificent giant Senecio Kilimanjari plant. You will then join up with your later descent route where you will head left up the ridge for another hour, before reaching Barafu Hut.
Barafu is the Swahili word for "ice" and it is a bleak and inhospitable camping area to spend the night, perched on a rocky ridge riddled with rocky outcrops. It is essential that you familiarise yourself with the terrain and location of toilets before dark to avoid any accidents.
The summit is a further 1345m up. It is this ascent that you will tackle in the early hours of the next morning. That night, it is important to prepare your gear, lay out your clothing etc for your summit attempt. It is also highly advisable to sleep with your water bottles to prevent them from freezing up.
overnight. Ensure that your headlamp had a new battery and that you have spare camera batteries if necessary. You will head for bed around 18h30.
Day 6: SUMMIT ATTEMPT
Barafu camp (4550m)-Uhuru Peak (5895m)-Mweka (3100m)
Hiking time: 6-8 hours to reach Uhuru Peak
6-8 hours to descend to Mweka
Distance: About 7 km's ascent - 23 km's descent
Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit
You will rise around 23h30, and after some tea and biscuits you will head off"pole pole" into the night. Heading in a North westerly direction you will ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point (5685) on the crater rim. The hike up is about 6 hours and is for many climbers, the most mentally and physically challenging part of the entire route. It is advisable NOT to stop too long at Stella Point (5685m). Take a short rest and head the next 200m, most probably through snow, for the summit. The remainder of the climb to Uhuru Peak will take anything from 1-2 hours. From Stella Point you will normally encounter snow all the way on your 2-hour ascent to Uhuru Peak. How long you spend on the summit will depend on the weather, your levels of fatigue and the guidance of your guide etc.
After your moment of glory, you will head back to Barafu, in about 2 hours where you will have a chance to rest, buy a cola or two before collecting the rest of your gear and heading down towards Mweka hut (3100m). While the route is not difficult, it is long and will take you down the rock and scree path into the moorland and eventually into the forest. The camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Dinner, and washing water will be prepared and drinking water, soft drinks, chocolates and beer is available from the camp office!
Day 7: Mweka camp (3100m)- Mweka Gate (1980m)
Hiking time: 2-4 hours
Distance: About 15 km's
After an early and well-deserved breakfast, it is a short 3-hour scenic hike back to the Park gate. It is recommended not to pay your porters any tips until you and all your gear have reached the gate safely. At Mweka gate you will have to sign your name and details in a register in order to receive you summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Stella Point (5685m) are issued with green certificates and
those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895m) receive gold certificates. From the Mweka Gate you will continue down into the Mweka village, normally a muddy 3 km (1 hour) hike. In the Mweka village you will meet up with your team and bus, and head back to the hotel a long over due hot shower.
Day 8: Departure
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
End of services
Western Breach Variation is no longer available as of 5th January 2006 due to parks closure of this route.