Machame Route on Kilimanjaro


The Machame route is a scenic and gradual route up Kilimanjaro. The extra time spent on the mountain allows better acclimatization than the Marangu route. On the Machame route, climbers sleep in tents, and the descent is via the shorter Mweka route to the Mweka gate.

The Machame route has been nicknamed the "whiskey route", presumably because it appeals to more refined and expensive tastes than the Marangu "Coca-Cola" route. (At least, we haven't heard of whiskey for sale anywhere on the route!).

In recent years, the Marangu route has received some bad press, and the Machame route has emerged as the most popular alternative. Unfortuantely this means that the Machame route is now probably the busiest on Kilimanjaro. On our Lemosho route climb in peak season, there were something like 500 people (porters and climbers) at Barranco camp when we joined up with the Machame route!

We recommend the Machame route over the Marangu route, despite the crowds. Other longer routes which offer even better acclimatization are the Lemosho and Shira routes, which join up with the Machame route for the last few days before the summit.

Typical itinerary

The Machame route is usually offered as a 6 night / 7 day or 5 night / 6 day trip, starting out of the Arusha or the town of Moshi. A typical itinerary for the Machame route is:

Day 1: Drive from Arusha or Moshi to the Machame gate (1800 m), then hike to the Machame huts (3000 m).

Day 2: Hike from the Machame huts (3000 m) to the Shira hut (3800 m).

Day 3: Hike from the Shira hut (3800 m) to Barranco camp (3900 m). Despite the modest elevation gain, there is a lot of climbing and descending. On this day there is also an optional scramble up Lava Tower (4600 m).

Day 4: Hike from Barranco camp (3900 m) to Karanga Camp (4000 m). The Barranco wall rising up from Barranco camp is a major bottleneck here, as the route is steep and requires some minor scrambling up rocks using your hands for balance.

Day 5: Hike from Karanga camp (4000 m) to Barafu Camp (4600 m). The hikes from Barranco to Karanga, and Karanga to Barafu camp are relatively short, so some tour operators combine them in a single day. We recommend spending the extra day at Karanga to acclimatize and rest for the big summit day.

Day 6: Summit day. Starting around midnight, hike by headlamp from Barafu camp (4600 m) up switchbacks to Stella Point (5700 m). Most climbers arrive at Stella Point around sunrise. The true summit of Uhuru Peak (5896 m) is another hour or so on more gentle slopes. Descend to Mweka camp (3100 m). This is a long day of 12-16 hours, and the nearly 3000 m of descent are tougher than most climbers expect!

Day 7: Descend from Mweka camp (3100 m) through the forest to Mweka gate (1600 m), and drive back to Arusha or Moshi.