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
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