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Machame route

The Machame is a beautiful Kilimanjaro route and we love taking clients up the mountain via this trail. We explain all you need to know about the route, including the different duration options.

The Machame route is the busiest of the seven Kilimanjaro routes, with about 50% of Kilimanjaro climbers using it each year. It's also one of the most scenic Kilimanjaro routes. It offers breathtaking views and a rich variety of terrain throughout. The route approaches from south and has a high success rate, especially for climbers who choose the seven-day option.

Quick facts on the Machame route

Difficulty: Medium

Distance: 62 km / 39 miles

Duration: 6-7 days

Success rate: High

Snowy summit of Kilimanjaro

There isn't always snow on the summit of Kilimanjaro, but when there is, it's always beautiful!

Follow Alice's opinion of the Machame

We really like the Machame route because of its beauty, variety of scenery, and great acclimatisation profile. The main downside of this route for us is that it can get quite crowded. Whilst it's undeniably a very beautiful Kilimanjaro climb, we usually recommend the Lemosho route over the Machame route. This is because the Lemosho is just as beautiful, yet less crowded.

These two Kilimanjaro routes do, however, join together on the morning of Day 3, so it's actually only the first couple of days that are different. You can climb Kilimanjaro via the Machame route in six days, though we don't recommend this for first-time trekkers as it diminishes your acclimatisation period. Rather climb it over seven days.

Highlights

✓ Good acclimatisation

✓ High success rates

✓ Beautiful scenery

✓ Varying landscapes and hiking terrain

Considerations

- Can get crowded

- Some parts can be considered difficult

The Machame route is for climbers who want a high chance of summiting, are up for a challenge, and don't mind a route that's slightly crowded.

 

 

What is the scenery like?

The Machame route is one of the most beautiful of the seven Kilimanjaro routes in Tanzania. You pass through extremely varied terrain the whole way up to the summit. In fact, you pass through five different climate zones: rainforest, grassland, moorland, alpine desert, and the arctic summit. The trek also takes you past stunning natural features such as the volcanic plug known as Lava Tower. The Machame also route stops over at locations that offer some of the best sunrises and sunsets on Kilimanjaro.

Climbers dwarfed by giant groundsels on Kilimanjaro

Giant groundsels are an iconic Kilimanjaro plant

How hard is the route?

No Kilimanjaro climb is easy, so let's get that out of the way straight off the bat! But you're doubtless wanting to know how hard the Machame route is comparative to the other six routes. Well, it isn't easy to state how hard a route is, especially as the things that might make a Kilimanjaro climb 'hard' can vary from person to person. Generally speaking, the Machame route is considered a more challenging climb than others. For starters, it covers more ground, having more ups and downs than other routes. This means it requires more energy per day than other trails. That said, the route is not technically difficult.

It's also important to note that while it's more physically demanding than other Kilimanjaro routes, the seven-day Machame route has a very good acclimatisation profile. This is because it includes opportunities to climb high and then sleep low, which are important in helping the body to adjust to the increased elevation. Proper acclimatisation increases your chances of summiting.

Put simply, with the right Kilimanjaro preparation, anyone should be able to climb Kilimanjaro via the Machame route. Note that you should be physically fit to temp the climb. But with the right support in the form of a qualified and supportive mountain crew, you can achieve the summit whether you have previous hiking experience or are a first-time trekker. Note too that we would not recommend the six-day Machame route for first-time trekkers. We really feel that the seven-day climb is the better option given its superior acclimatisation profile.

What is the route's success rate?

The Machame route provides ideal opportunities to climb high and then sleep low, which means it has an excellent acclimatisation profile. Whilst there are no official statistics, the average success rate across all Kilimanjaro operators is 85% for the seven-day Machame route. It drops to 73% for the six-day option. Follow Alice retains a success rate of 95% for the seven-day Machame route!

Hike Mt Kilimanjaro on the Machame Route

Walking high up on the mountain on the Machame route

How many days is the Machame?

The Machame route can be completed in a minimum of six days, but we always recommend the seven-day Machame route itinerary. The extra day gives you more time to acclimatise. Further, climbing Kilimanjaro isn't a race. The Machame route is very beautiful, so it would be a shame to rush it. In our experience, most people who have completed the right Kilimanjaro preparation complete the seven-day Machame route with no real problems.

How busy is the Machame?

The Machame route is the most frequented of the Kilimanjaro routes. It's a very beautiful and scenic route, and also boasts an amazing acclimatisation profile, which attracts a lot of climbers each year. Also, the fact that you can climb it in six days means that a lot of budget Kilimanjaro operators use the Machame route.

Climbing Kilimanjaro via Machame Route

From Karanga Camp to the summit on the Machame route

What is accommodation like?

The Machame route only offers camping accommodation. All of your camping equipment is provided for you as part of your package fee if you climb Kilimanjaro with Follow Alice. This equipment includes your tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and pillow. Also, all tents are pitched and then taken down by our dedicated mountain crew throughout the trek.

What does the Machame route cost?

Follow Alice offers the Machame route as a six- or seven-day group or private climb. The package costs $2,285 per person for a six-day climb and $2,585 per person for a seven-day climb (both based on double occupancy). This fee includes six or seven days on the mountain as well as one day either side at our beautiful partner lodge in Moshi. This brings the entire trip to nine or 10 days in total.

For more information on inclusions and exclusions, as well as more details about the trip, head to our Kilimanjaro climb page. We also delve deeper into the topic in How much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro?

Climbing the Uhuru Peak was a worthwhile experience thanks to the unique combination of absolutely breathtaking nature, stunning views of varied scenery, excellent guides and spending seven days outdoors in a group of interesting young people from all over the world.

– Beni Lörtscher

Kilimanjaro Accomodation

Follow Alice campsite

Machame route overview

The Machame route can be completed in six or seven days. The extra day on the seven-day route allows for an extra day of acclimatisation, which is always a good thing. Have a look at the two itineraries below before deciding which option suits you.

7-day Machame route overview

6-day Machame route itinerary

You start the trek at Machame Gate. You head to the summit, then descend to exit the park at Mweka Gate. This means you don't have to retrace your steps on the Machame route.

Route in profile

The two graphs below show the elevation of the six-day Machame route in profile – first in metres, then in feet.

6-day Machame route elevation in metres
6-day Machame route elevation in feet

7-day Machame route overview

You start the trek at Machame Gate. You head to the summit, then descend to exit the park at Mweka Gate. This means you don't have to retrace your steps on the Machame route.

7-day Machame route overview

Route in profile

The two graphs below show the elevation of the seven-day Machame route in profile – first in metres, then in feet.

7-day Machame route elevation in metres
7-day Machame route elevation in feet

7-day Machame route itinerary

The seven-day Machame route starts its approach of the mountain from the southwest, at Machame Gate. From there, you trek steeply up through rainforest to Shira Ridge, before crossing the Shira Plateau. At Lava Tower you join up with trekkers hiking the Lemosho route and Shira route. You then hike past the old Arrow Glacier route to the Western Breach.

Next, you descend a little in altitude to reach Barranco Camp, which sits under Kilimanjaro's Southern Ice Fields. Continuing along the southern circuit, you follow the Machame route up Barranco Wall and then through the Karanga Valley. You summit from Barafu, and descend via Mweka.

The Machame route is great for acclimatisation because of its many 'climb high, sleep low' opportunities.

Machame 7-day route map, trekking Kilimanjaro

Map showing the Machame route up Kilimanjaro (and descent via the Mweka route)

Day 1: Machame Gate to Machame Camp

To start the trek you drive to Machame Gate where you're recorded in the register held by Kilimanjaro National Park. You then start on your journey by hiking through the rainforest to Machame Camp, which at 3,020 m (9,908 ft) above sea level is your first overnight stop.]

Elevation: 1,640 m to 2,850 m

Distance: 11 km / 7 miles

Hiking time: 5-7 hours

Habitat: Forest

Day 2: Machame Camp to Shira Cave Camp

After an early breakfast, you climb up and out of the rainforest and into the heather and moorland zone. You cross many streams and walk over a plateau that leads to Shira Cave Camp. At this campsite you have a spectacular view of the Western Breach and its glaciers in the east. Today's hike lasts about five to six hours in total.

Elevation: 2,850 m to 3,810 m

Distance: 5 km / 3 miles

Hiking time: 5-6 hours

Habitat: Moorland

Day 3: Shira Cave Camp to Lava Tower to Barranco Camp

Today is a day to climb high and then sleep low. As such today's route consists of two parts: the hike up to Lava Tower, followed by the hike down to Barranco Camp.

Part 1 | Shira Cave Camp to Lava Tower

Elevation: 3,810 m to 4,630 m

Distance: 7 km / 4 miles

Hiking time: 4-5 hours

Habitat: Alpine desert

You hike for about five hours to reach the impressive rock formation called Lava Tower at 4,630 m (15,419 ft) above sea level. The tower is a real highlight on the Kilimanjaro trek.

Part 2 | Lava Tower to Barranco Camp

Elevation: 4,630 m to 3,976 m

Distance: 3 km / 2 miles

Hiking time: 2-3 hours

Habitat: Alpine desert

After lunch at Lava Tower, you head down to Barranco Camp. The descent takes about two to three hours. Barranco Camp is located in a valley below the Western Breach and imposing Barranco Wall.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro Machame Route

On the way to Barranco Camp via the gorgeous Machame route

Day 4: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp

Elevation: 3,976 m to 3,995 m

Distance: 5 km / 3 miles

Hiking time: 4-5 hours

Habitat: Alpine desert

Today's hike of four to five hours is all about acclimatisation. After an early breakfast, it’s time for you to conquer the Barranco Wall. Although it may look intimidating at first, most trekkers report the wall isn't as difficult as they anticipated. At the top of the wall you're above the clouds and have superb views of the Southern Ice Fields and the summit. The trail then winds up and down until you arrive at Karanga Camp, where you spend the night.

Group jump at top of Barranco Wall on Kilimanjaro

Group jump at the top of Barranco Wall!

Day 5: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp

Elevation: 3,995 m to 4,673 m

Distance: 4 km / 2 miles

Hiking time: 3 hours

Habitat: Alpine desert

It’s getting real! You’re now very close to the summit and have some amazing views of the mountain during your ascent of three hours to the last base, Barafu Camp, which sits at 4,600 m (15,091 ft) above sea level. You go to bed early tonight as you'll be woken around midnight to start the long summit trek.

Day 6: Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp

Today is summit day! This is the big push to the summit at nearly 6,000 metres above sea level. It requires grit and determination, but you can do it!

Part 1 | Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak

Elevation: 4,673 m to 5,895 m

Distance: 5 km/3 miles

Hiking time: 6-8 hours

Habitat: Arctic

Your guide wakes you up around midnight so you can begin your summit attempt, which many describe as the most mentally and physically challenging part of the whole Kilimanjaro climb. The route heads northwest into the dark night. After about six or seven hours you reach Stella Point on the crater rim at 5,685 m (18,651 ft) above sea level. It should be sunrise about now, and you continue for an hour or so on a sometimes snow-covered trail to reach Uhuru Peak at 5,895 m (19,341 ft), which is the very highest point in all of Africa!

Part 2 | Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp

Elevation: 5,895 m to 3,068 m

Distance: 12 km / 7 miles

Hiking time: 6-8 hours

After reaching the summit, you descend to Mweka Camp at 3,110 m (10,204 ft) above sea level. Here, you spend your final night on the mountain after having hiked for about 12 to 16 hours today!

Day 7: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate

Elevation: 3,068 m to 1,640 m

Distance: 10 km / 6 miles

Hiking time: 3 hours

Habitat: Rainforest

Today you hike down the last bit of the trail to the foot of the mountain, where your driver is waiting for you. Time for a beer and celebration dinner!

Kilimanjaro summit

Stunning view of the glacier from the summit

Explore more of Tanzania

If you want to add a little adventure onto the end of your Kilimanjaro climb, we recommend going on a Tanzania safari – you won’t find a better African safari! Or hop over the border into Uganda to trek with mountain gorillas. Alternatively, if you’ve limited time and budget, why not do one or two extra activities in the Kilimanjaro region like visit a Maasai village or a coffee farm?

M~teruni WAterfall Tanzania

Materuni Waterfall is a popular half-day activity in the Kilimanjaro region – you can swim in the beautiful pool it forms!

 

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Follow Alice Tours (T) LTD

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