There are several routes to climb Kilimanjaro, but how do you decide on which route to take. Obviously you want to make the summit so based on your experience level, which one would be the best route for you?
Below are the group climb routes we offer. In this article, we will focus on the 9-Day Machame group climb.
The Machame Route known as the “Whiskey” route, begins at Machame Gate, located at the southern base of the mountain. From the gate, you ascend through Kilimanjaro’s lush rainforest to the Shira Plateau. Once there you will traverse the mountain beneath Kilimanjaro’s Southern Icefield. You’ll approach the summit from Barafu Hut. The 9-day Machame route is recommended because it provides an additional acclimatization day and shortens some of the daily hikes. The total time on the mountain is 7 days. It is one of the most popular routes on Kilimanjaro.
The 9-day itinerary has an arrival and departure day built-in. That means that day one will not be on the mountain. Rather, you’ll arrive at the hotel in Moshi and have the trip briefing that day and start the hike the next morning.
When you arrive at the hotel look for your trip briefing time posted near the conference room. At the trip-briefing, we will perform a thorough equipment check. We will also give a health check to get your baseline stats. Additionally, we will confirm you have the appropriate mandatory medical coverage and travel insurance.
Kilimanjaro Day 1
The day will begin after breakfast. You’ll be driven to Kilimanjaro National Park entrance at the Machame Park Gate (5,400 ft) where you’ll register with the Park Service. As you grab your gear, the porters and guides will weigh all the equipment.
The trail starts climbing immediately through the lush rainforest. This forest shelters a variety of wildlife, including the blue monkey. Despite its name, the blue monkey is not noticeably blue, it is mainly olive or grey apart from the face. Typical sizes range from 19 to 26 inches in length. The tail is that long as well.
The forest begins to thin out at the edge of the moorland zone. The trees begin to open up which gives you expansive views of the plains far below. Finally, you’ll arrive at Machame Camp (9,800 ft) and camp for the night. The hike usually takes about 5-6 hours, is approximately 6.7 miles and gains 4,400 ft.
Kilimanjaro Day 2
The morning begins with breakfast and a short hike up a steady ascent to the Shira Plateau (11,300 ft). You’ll leave the rainforest behind as you enter the Moorland zone. From this vantage point, you’ll have amazing views of Kibo. You’ll stop for lunch here. The afternoon trek has you continuing along the Shira Plateau to Shira I camp (12,600 ft). The day’s hike usually takes about 4-5 hours, covers 3.3 miles, and ascends 2,800 ft.
Kilimanjaro Day 3
Today begins with a gentle ascent along a distinct trail surrounded by panoramic views. The trail ascends above the Moorland zone and continues through the lava ridges beneath the glaciers above. You’ll stop for lunch at Lava Tower at 15,150 feet. If you watch closely, you may even see a rock slide along the treacherous Western Breach route.
From here you’ll descend into the Barranco Valley to your camp at Barranco Camp. On your left, you’ll see the intimidating Barranco Wall that you’ll ascend the following morning. The camp is at 12,800 feet. This camp is busier since you have now joined the Lemosho route. The camp is spectacular with its towering cliffs and extensive views of the plains far below.
The day’s hike takes about 5-7 hours, covers 6.3 miles and only ascends about 200 feet total since the camp is lower than Lava Tower.
Kilimanjaro Day 4
The morning starts with a very steep 800 foot climb up the Barranco Wall. It can be slow going with the crowds. It is not as scary as it looks from below. Just follow the guide’s lead and you’ll easily reach the top in a few short hours. Once at the top you’ll take a break and get some jaw-dropping shots of the valley below. From here the terrain changes to scree with pockets of lush vegetation sheltered in the rocks. The remaining hike is short and ends at Karanga Camp at 13,100 feet. This camp is also the last water point before the summit.
The hike takes about 4-6 hours covers only 3.2 miles and ends up only gaining 300 feet.
Kilimanjaro Day 5
From Karanga Camp, there is a short hike to the camp at Barafu at 14,800 feet. Once at camp, you’ll eat lunch. You’ll spend the rest of the day either doing an acclimatization hike to the plateau southeast of camp or just resting to prepare for the early morning summit attempt.
The hike covers 3.4 miles, takes about 3-5 hours and gains 1,700 feet.
Kilimanjaro Day 6
Today’s hike starts around 1 AM. You be woken up by the guide, dress quickly, eat breakfast, grab your gear and begin the ascent by headlamp. You’ll plod along slowly in the dark, ascending quickly up switchbacked trails so that you can be up on the crater rim by sunrise. This is called Stella Point its at 18,800 feet. The hike takes about six hours from camp. You will rest there enjoying the views of the sun rising above the Mawenzi peak and the crater floor below. Those in the group who are still feeling strong can continue the two-hour round trip to the summit along the crater rim to Uhuru Peak at 19,341 feet.
The trail passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. Once at the summit you’ll rest and wait your turn to take photos at the summit sign.
The descent to Barafu is surprisingly fast, and after a snack and, you’ll continue the descent to the final campsite, Millenium Camp. It’s located at 12,500 feet. The total travel time with be 11-15 hours and cover 8.2 miles. You will gain 4,545 feet and descend 6,845 feet.
Kilimanjaro Day 7
Your final day on Kilimanjaro winds along on a sustained descent on a well-constructed path. It meanders through the lovely tropical forest alive with birdsong and boasting lush undergrowth with considerable botanical elements. It concludes at the Mweka gate at 5,400 feet. Once you have been signed out, you’ll continue down through coffee and banana farms to Mweka village, where you’ll be transferred to your lodge in Moshi.
The trail takes about 4-6 hours. It is 7.6 miles and drops 7,100 feet.
Video of the Machame Route
Map of the Machame Route
Interested in Booking Your Machame Climb?
Climbing Kilimanjaro is challenging. And nothing causes more excitement than the final push to the summit. While most other days are pretty tame by comparison, summit night is very strenuous. It begins with a wake up call in the middle of the night, followed by a 4,000 foot climb in cold, dark and windy conditions. […]
George Mallory, an English mountaineer, was asked by a reporter in 1923 why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. At the time, no one had ever been to the top of Everest. Mallory had participated on two expeditions on the world’s tallest peak, but failed to reach the summit both times. He replied, “Because it’s there.” Mallory explained, “Its existence is a challenge. The answer is instinctive, a part, I suppose, of man’s desire to conquer the Universe.” When people make the decision to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the Seven Summits, the reasons vary. Some people do it on a whim, without much thought. It could simply be that someone asked them to come along. Or they were traveling in Tanzania already. For others, the choice is much deeper. It could be a personal achievement. Or to honor someone else or a certain cause. "Why did you climb Kilimanjaro?"- We posed this question to each of our Peak Planet blog authors.
Hiking is an inherently strenuous activity. Depending on factors such as body weight, pack weight and degree of incline, one might burn between 300-600 calories an hour. In addition, acclimatization to high altitude leads to a slight increase in basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy needed to keep your body functioning. More on that later. Considering that the typical daily hike can take four to seven hours and the brutal summit day can take between 11 and 15 hours, the math here begins to add up quickly. It is conceivable to burn somewhere in the range of 1000 to 3000 calories on a normal day and a whopping 3000 to 6000 calories or more on summit day. Though energy expenditure on Kilimanjaro is variable from person to person, a shared set of factors determine where one might fall on that spectrum. There have been studies that have examined weight loss at high altitude which have found that people do burn more calories. However, exercise at high altitudes cannot fully explain why weight loss occurs.
This is an article from our expert staff on pant recommendations to keep you dry, comfortable, and warm for your entire Kilimanjaro trip.
We recommend using trekking poles on Kilimanjaro unless you are an experienced backpacker that is used to hiking on unstable terrain over several hours.
Having the right footwear is immensely important on Mount Kilimanjaro. With every step you take, and you will take thousands, your shoe has to perform well. There is no piece of gear that is more crucial than your footwear. Let's discuss the three types of shoes that are used in hiking and backpacking.
A capable backpack is required for climbing Kilimanjaro. Your backpack will hold all of your daily necessities and you’ll carry it with you on your hikes. Inside, you will want extra clothing layers that you’ll put on and take off trek such as a fleece jacket, hat, gloves, and waterproof rain gear. Additionally, you will have water, snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen, and perhaps a camera. To get all of this gear into a pack, I suggest a 30-40-liter capacity daypack and nothing smaller. Many companies now make gender-specific packs. I highly recommend these, as they have features designed for different body shapes and characteristics. Make sure you know your torso length so you can select the right sized pack.
What makes summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest freestanding mountain and African’s tallest mountain, obtainable to many is that no technical mountaineering skills are required along most routes. What is commonly believed is that anyone who is in decent shape has a good shot at making it to the top. To understand how fit you need to be, it’s useful to know what you will be required to complete on a day-to-day basis. On the days leading up to summit night, you need to be able to hike from three to seven hours, and then get up and do it all over again for multiple days in a row.
Do you have what it takes to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro? Though impossible to know for sure till your trials on the mountain begin, the odds are already working in your favor. Kilimanjaro requires absolutely no technical climbing expertise. Years of hiking and backpacking are not requisite to successfully tackling the highest freestanding mountain in the world! Many first-time hikers do well on this adventure. People ranging from age 6 to 89 have found their moment of glory atop Uhuru Peak.
You are ready to book your Kilimanjaro trip, except for one thing - you can't decide which route to take! How do you decide between the many different routes? Peak Planet offers climbs on Machame, Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho, Northern Circuit and Northern Crater. All of these will allow you to experience beautiful and distinct landscapes as you make your way from the rainforest to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. While you really can’t go wrong with any of these routes, there is likely a route that is better suited for you and your particular situation.