Day 1 Machame Gate/Machame Camp
Day 2 Machame Camp/Shira Camp
Day 3 Shira Plateau/Barranco Camp
Day 4 Barranco Cliff/Karanga Camp
Day 5 Karanga Camp/Barafu Camp
Day 6 Barafu Camp-ascent to summit/Descent to Mweka Camp
Day 7 Mweka Camp/Mweka Gate (park entrance)
Machame route is the second easiest ascent route with a trailhead on the western side of the mountain close to a good tarmac road making it convenient from Arusha, Kilimnjaro International Airport and the northern Parks.
It is reputed to be one of the most scenic routes with panoramic views across the Maasai Steppe and Mt. Meru and views of the beautiful Barranco Valley and is becoming even more popular than Marangu. Referred to as the “whisky” route in comparison with Marangu’s “Coca-Cola”, Machame is more demanding with a longer ascent thus appealing to more serious trekkers and is less subscribed.
Breach route from Shira camp onwards (see Shira Route). Ascent from Machame and descent through Mweka rather than the same ascent allows trekkers to see more of the mountain and not meet other climbers en-route.
Drive from Arusha to Machame village and the Machame gate for the start of the trek. Enjoy a 2 to 3 hrs hike through dense forest and amongst giant rubber trees, begonia flowers and other tropical vegetation before stopping for lunch. This stage of the climb is relatively easy but there is no need to rush to camp as there is little to do there. Take time to admire the surroundings. A slow ascent is recommend for gradual acclimatization.
Thereafter, hike on to the end of the tropical forest and start of tall grasses and giant heather, walking on a ridge between Semira stream and the Weru Weru on the right.
You will arrive at Machame Camp between 1700 hrs and 1800 hrs.
Accommodation is in camp tents set up near old metals huts once used for shelter.
Overnight: Machame Camp (3030m)
After an early wake-up call with tea/coffee, you wake up to spectacular views of Uhuru peak before the day’s 6 hrs hike up a steep track through a savannah of tall grass, volcanic rock and bearded heather. You will probably encounter giant groundsels as you hike through a ghostly landscape of volcanic lava, caves and foamy streams.
Enjoy lunch just before the Shira Plateau, about 3 to 4 hrs from Shira Camp. Continue the hike to Shira Camp, 3800M where you arrive between 1400 hrs and 1500 hrs.
Because of the steepness, most climbers tend to pace themselves, walking slowly and resting about every half-hour. Many may also feel lethargic and have headaches by the time they reach camp. Those with symptoms of altitude sickness are well advised to drink tea and sleep a lot.
Overnight Shira Camp
Today’s 6 hrs hike takes us past the pass at Lava Tower 4500m, where we stop for lunch. We cross the Bastains stream, as we start a descent that takes us past an immense canyon called the Grand Barranco. Other features along the way include numerous waterfalls fed by streams from the mountain that converge here to form Umbwe River.
We arrive at Barranco Camp, 3950M set at almost the same altitude as the previous night between 1630 and 1730 hrs.
Overnight Barranco Camp
Today, we have a relatively easy 4 hrs hike to Karanga Camp, 3950M same altitude as Barranco Camp where we arrive at about 1300 hrs forlunch. But for a climb at Barranco Cliff the rest of the hike is climbing up and down the slopes of the mountain to camp.
The afternoon may be spent hiking in the Karanga Valley. Giant senecios and lobelia grow here. But one is best advised to rest as much as possible to prepare you for the climb ahead.
Overnight Karanga Camp
With views of Mawenzi peak towering to the right and Kibo peak ahead seeming a little out of reach, today’s hike to Barafu very scenic. The hike is mostly on a moraine but the alpine desert terrain is a mineral environment with few lichens and mosses.
We enjoy lunch en-route and arrive at Barafu Camp, 4600M at around 1430 hrs. For those who choose to ascend the peak, tomorrow will be the longest day of the tour. We are best advised to retire early and catch some sleep.
Overnight Barafu Camp
After a wake up at midnight with a very light breakfast, today’s 13 hrs hiking starts at 0100 hrs. This is the most difficult part of the climb with temperatures ranging from -4° to 5° Fahrenheit and most climbers suffering altitude sickness. Climbers are advised to carry as little as possible.
Flanked by the Ratzel and Rebman glaciers, we climb for about 6 hrs to the edge of the crater, between Stella and Hans Meyer points. Another 1 hr of climbing brings us to the summit, Uhuru Peak which standing at 5,860M is the highest point in Africa. The track around the edge of the crater is rocky and icy so climbers are advised to concentrate on their feet and follow the guide very closely. And the descent is no easier.
We reach Kibo Hut after about 3 hrs (around 11:30 AM) with opportunity for resting and some refreshments before continuing on the descent. We reach Mweka Camp at around 1700 hrs, having trekked for about 13 hrs for overnight.
Overnight: Mweka Camp (3090m)