Kilimanjaro Hiking Tours – The complete Mt Kilimanjaro guide to climbing Kilimanjaro

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Machame Ice caps

Machame Route

The Machame route is one of the most popular and successful Kilimanjaro routes, leading to the summit of
Mt Kilimanjaro. The Machame route is also known as the “Kilimanjaro Whiskey route” and is a very scenic and beautiful Kilimanjaro route.

The key to the success of the Machame route is its topography, allowing hikers to climb high and sleep low, helping towards better acclimatisation. The summit trail on the Machame route is less challenging and strenuous, compared to the summit trail from Kibo Hut. The summit trail is slightly shorter and has less loose scree (rocks) making it slightly easier to reach the crater rim.

Unfortunately this a busy Kilimanjaro route and higher number of hikers can be encountered. This is due to the fact that this is one of the most successful Kilimanjaro routes and the Machame route merge with other routes from day 3 onwards. The route utilises the Mweka route as a descend route. Please click on the Machame map to see an enlarged Machame route map.

Recommended duration of climb

The 6 day Machame route is the minimum duration allowed, however we strongly recommend you choose the 7 day Machame route option. The biggest cause of altitude sickness is going too high, too fast and nobody can predict who will get altitude sickness and who not. Altitude sickness affect every person differently, irrespective of their age, fitness levels etc. By choosing the 7 day Machame route, do you allow your body more time to acclimatize and reduce the possibility to get altitude sickness. It also allow more time to rest before the actual summit attempt start.


Machame route advantagesMachame route disadvantages
Opportunity to climb high / sleep low, reducing the possibility to get altitude sickness. Actual trail from the Machame gate to Barafu campsite is challenging,
The actual summit trail shorter, less challenging than the Marangu route summit trail The Baranco wall is a potential problem for hikers with a fear of heights
Ascend and descend using different routes High number of hikers can be expected
Short distance to High campsite or Mweka campsite, after reaching the summit Campsites can be crowded
Daily hiking distances relatively short Basic long drop style toilets at campsites
Scenic and beautiful route Some parts like the Baranco wall, subject to “bottled neck” effect due to high number of hikers     

6 Day Machame route itinerary – click here

7 Day Machame route itinerary

Day 1 – Machame Gate (1 800m / 5 905ft) – Machame campsite (2 835m / 9 300ft)

Hiking time: 5 to 6 hours
Distance: Approximately 11 km / 6.8 miles
Habitat: Montane forest

Machame Forest

The drive from Moshi town to the Machame gate, takes about 1 hour. After registering, you start your ascent through the beautiful rain forest section. There is a strong possibility of rain in the forest section, which will transform the trail into a very soggy, muddy and slippery experience.

Day 2 – Machame campsite (2 835m / 9 300ft) – Shira Cave campsite (3 750m / 12 303ft)

Hiking time: 5 to 6 hours
Distance: Approximately 5.3 km / 3.3 miles
Habitat: Moorland

You rise early at Machame campsite and after breakfast you climb an hour or so to the top of the forest and then for another 2 hours at a gentler gradient through the moorland zone. After a short lunch and rest, you continue up a steep rocky Shira ridge onto the Shira plateau. 

Day 3 – Climb high, sleep low

Ascend: Shira Cave campsite (3 750m / 12 303ft) – Lava Tower (4 600m / 15 090ft)

Hiking time: 4 to 5 hours
Distance: Approximately 7 km / 4.3 miles                                                                                                                                                                                             
Habitat: Semi-desert

Descend: Lava Tower (4 600m / 15 090ft) – Baranco campsite (3 900m) / 12 795ft)

Hiking time: 2 to 3 hours
Distance: Approximately 3.3 km / 2 miles                                                                                                                                                                                           
Habitat: Semi-desert

The route now turns east into a semi desert and rocky landscape surrounding Lava Tower, where you reach an altitude of 4 600m / 15 090ft and stop for lunch. This is where the true acclimatisation benefit of the Machame route becomes clear, of climbing high and sleeping low. The descent to Baranco campsite takes about 2 hours.

Day 4 – Baranco campsite (3 900m) / 12 795ft) – Karanga campsite (3 995m / 13 105ft)

Hiking time: 6 hours
Distance: 6 km / 3.7 miles
Habitat: Semi desert

After breakfast, make your way up the Baranco wall, which in the end, normally turns out to be easier than anticipated. Topping out just below the Heim Glacier, you will now appreciate just how beautiful Kilimanjaro really is. One should keep in mind that there are three rises and falls before reaching Karanga campsite where you will have lunch, dinner and overnight.

Day 5 – Karanga campsite (3 995m / 13 105ft) – Barafu campsite (4 673m / 15 330ft)

Machame Campsite

Hiking time: 3 hours
Distance: 4 km / 2.5 miles
Habitat: Alpine desert

Enjoy breakfast and ascend 640m to Barafu campsite. Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice” and the Barafu campsite is totally exposed to the ever-present gales. The summit is now a further 1 222m / 4 009ft higher and you will commence with your final ascent attempt, the same night. Go to bed at round about 19h00 and try to get some precious rest and sleep.

Day 6 – Summit attempt

Ascend: Barafu campsite (4 673m / 15 330ft) – Uhuru Peak (5 895m / 19 341ft)

Hiking time: 7 to 8 hours to reach Uhuru Peak
Distance: Approximately 5 km / 3.1 miles
Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit

Descend: Uhuru Peak (5 895m / 19 341ft) – Mweka (3 100m / 10 170ft)

Hiking time: 7 to 8 hours to reach Uhuru Peak, 6 to 8 hours to descend to Mweka Campsite
Distance: 12.5 km / 7.8 miles to Mweka campsite or 9 km / 5.6 miles to High campsite
Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit

You will get up around 23h20, and after some tea and biscuits you shuffle off into the night. You will head in a north-westerly direction and ascend up a steep path towards Stella Point, located on the crater rim. For many climbers the 6-hour walk to Stella point is mentally and physically the most challenging part of the entire hike. 

At Stella Point (5 756m / 18 884ft) you will stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see (weather permitting). From Stella Point it is possible to encounter snow all the way on your 2-hour ascent to Uhuru Peak. Enjoy your accomplishment and a day to remember for the rest of your life – you have conquered the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro!

The walk back to Barafu from the summit, takes about 3 hours. Here you will have a well-earned, but short rest and collect the rest of your gear. If the group managed to summit just after sunrise and everything was on schedule will we descend down to Mweka campsite (3 100m / 10 170ft). However if the summit attempt took longer than planned, will we overnight at High Campsite (3 950m / 12 960ft), which is located closer to Barafu campsite.

Day 7 – Final descend

Shorter: Mweka campsite (3 100m / 10 170ft) – Mweka Gate (1 640m / 5 380ft)

Hiking time: 3 to 4 hours
Distance: Approximately 10 km / 6.2 miles
Habitat: Forest


Longer: High campsite (3 950m / 12 960ft) – Mweka Gate (1 640m / 5 380ft)

Hiking time: 5 to 7 hours
Distance: From High Campsite approximately 13.5 km Mweka campsite approximately 13.5 km / 8.4 miles
Habitat: Forest

After an early and well-deserved breakfast, it is a short 3 to 4 hour scenic hike from Mweka campsite to the Mweka gate. If the group spend the last night at High Campsite it will be slightly longer 5 to 7 hour hike down to the Mweka gate.

At Mweka gate, you sign your name and details in a register. This is also where successful climbers will receive their summit certificates.