The Machame Route on Kilimanjaro is the chosen route for more than half of the people who want to make their way up to Uhuru Peak, the Roof of Africa. Good on them, because the Machame Route is indeed one of the better ones compared to other routes on Kilimanjaro. Endless views, a wide variety of flora and fauna, a different way going down compared to going up and, most importantly, great for acclimatization.
Due to its reputation as a hard ascent, the Machame path is also known as the Whiskey path, as opposed to the easier Marangu path, known as the Coca Cola route. This nickname puts a lot of people off and makes them believe that they better choose the Marangu Route. Contrary to the Machame Route, the Marangu Route, however, is a terrible choice when it comes to acclimatization and as a result, has low success rates.
The route for the Machame starts South of the mountain at the Machame Gate which is named of the area it is in, Machame.
The Machame Route can be done in six days and five nights or seven days and six nights. The latter option would strongly increase chances for success as there will be more time for adequate acclimatization.
How Long is the Machame Route?
From gate to gate the Machame Route is 62 kilometers/ 37 miles long. In comparison to some other routes like the Northern Circuit and the Lemosho Route, it is a route of average distance. The route can be done in either seven days or six days.
Day-to-day distance on a 7-day climb
- Day 1: 10.8km / 6.7mi
- Day 2: 5.4km / 3.4mi
- Day 3: 10.8km / 6.7mi
- Day 4: 5.5km / 3.4mi
- Day 5: 3km / 1.9mi
- Day 6: 13.4km / 8.3mi
- Day 7: 12.1km / 7.5mi
How Hard is the Machame Route?
The difficulty of Kilimanjaro climbing routes is hard to gauge and even harder to explain. There are different ways to get up Kilimanjaro and the one route is more technical than the other. However, the difficulty should not be measured in technical aspects but in terms of acclimatization.
Yes, the Machame Route has some technical sections like the Barranco Wall, but it also makes it the better option when it comes to climbing high and sleeping low. Acclimatization is the deciding factor when it boils down to whether or not you will be able to summit Kilimanjaro.
In that regard, the Machame Route is an easier option than for example the Marangu Route. If you choose the Machame Route, you actually have a very fair chance of succeeding.
What is the Success Rate for the Machame Route?
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the Machame Route is good for acclimatization. This is one of the deciding factors when it comes to ascending Kilimanjaro. Good acclimatization allows for a good state of body and mind and for high success rates.
The shorter version of the Machame Route, the 6-day one, has a success rate of about 75%. If you take a day longer and thus choose the 7-day option, your chances increase significantly. The success rate of the 7-day version of the Machame Route is around 85%.
Best Season for the Machame Route
There are no seasonal restrictions on Kilimanjaro. The mountain is open to trekking and climbing expeditions all year round. Having said that, there are certain months which a more suitable than others. The rainy season lasts from April to May and November to December.
The dry season includes January to March and June to October. As such, the Machame Route is a route which is best enjoyed during the dry season. The dry season is also the busy season. If you are looking for a quieter time to climbing Kilimanjaro, you can actually consider taking the Machame Route during the rainy season.
The Barranco Wall on the Machame Route
The Barranco Wall isn’t just part of the Machame Route. Also, the Umbwe Route, the Lemosho Route, and the old Shira Route cross the Barranco Wall. Elevation on the Barranco Wall is 257 meters and although this is seen as the hardest part of the Machame Route it is by no means undoable. On most Machame Route itineraries you climb the Barranco Wall on day of the ascent.
You don’t need to worry about technical climbing when crossing the Barranco Wall. Scrambling does the trick. This means that you can use both arms and legs climbing the wall. Again, this does not mean that you will be entirely vertical. Because the Barranco Wall is the first thing you will do after breakfast, it is also called the Barranco Breakfast. You will love it!
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7-Day Machame Route Itinerary
Because the 7-day version of the Machame Route allows for the best acclimatization and the highest success rates, we focus only on this itinerary. Why would you want to cut climbing Kilimanjaro short anyway? It’s not like you spend every month on the Roof of Africa ;)
This comes from the best seller 7-day version of the Machame Route as operated by Enosa Expeditions.
Day 1: Machame Gate (1,790m) – Machame Camp (3,010m)
After breakfast you will be picked up at hotel and make the 45-min drive to the Kilimanjaro National park gate. After completion of all the necessary paper work, your adventure commences. You destination for today is the Machame Camp, a 5 – 6 hour hike. Soon you will be hiking through the lush rainforest with its large ancient trees, primeval ferns and endemic flowers, like the Impatiens Kilimanjaro. You might also spot black and white thumb less colobus monkeys, peeking through the leaves. Reaching the campsite you will have time to relax, stretch your legs and enjoy a hearty meal, before snuggling into your tent for the night.
Day 2: Machame Camp (3,010m) – Shira Camp (3,845m)
Today’s early start is not due to a long stretch, but rather to allow you to reach Shira Camp at around mid-afternoon. As you walk you will notice the dramatic change in the landscape – from lush and green rainforest to dry moor and heathland. Arriving at your campsite a beautiful view of the mountain range opens up before you. The glaciers of Kibo glistens in the golden hue of the setting sun as you enjoy another lovingly cooked meal before climbing into your tent.
Day 3: Shira Camp (3,845m) – Lava Tower Hut (4,640m) – Barranco Camp (3,960m)
Acclimatization is on today’s menu, where you will climb roughly 700 m, but sleep on a level not much higher than the previous night. Starting at Shira Plateau, you will make your way up to Lava Tower (4,640m), where you will rest a while, before continuing through the Barranco Valley to the beautiful Barranco Camp. The trek will take approximately 6 – 7 hours, but the various distractions of the alpine desert as well as the Barranco Valley with its small lobelia plants and giant senecios, will keep your mind off the stretch still ahead. A well-deserved dinner and overnight await you at Barranco Camp.
Day 4: Barranco Camp (3,960m) – Karanga Camp (4,035m)
Today the Barranco Wall stands before you to conquer. Some stages will require you to use your hands for a better grip, but no actual climbing is necessary and your guide will be with you every step of the way to lend a helping hand. The route with its numerous ascents and descents allows for further acclimatization, before reaching the mountain ridge. Walking along the ridge you can take in the beautiful landscape with its stunning contrasts of desert and vegetation, before finally reaching the cloudy Karanga Camp. You trek will take between 3 – 4 hours, leaving more than enough time to rest and play a game of rummy. Evening meal and overnight at Karanga Camp.
Day 5: Karanga Camp (4,035m) – Barafu Camp (4,640m)
Awakening to the sunlight dancing off the Kibo Summit, you will enjoy a hearty breakfast before setting out to today’s destination – Barafu Camp. Most of the day will be spent walking through very dry desert terrain, with Kibo ever-present on your left side. After 3-4 hours you will reach Barafu Camp, where you will have an early dinner and overnight as the highlight of your trip is only a few short hours away…
Day 6: Barafu Camp (4,640m) – Uhuru Peak (5,895m) – Mweka Camp (3,080m)
At around midnight you will be awoken by your guide with a warm cup of tea and biscuits to get you ready for your final ascent. The moon and your headlamps will be your only source of light as you make your way up to Stella Point, reaching the crater rim in about 5 – 7 hours. Another 1 – 2 hours will take you to Uhuru Peak (5,895m), where you can enjoy the sun rising over the African landscape, casting a pink hue over the snowy peak and making the glaciers sparkle like diamonds around you. After capturing this incredible view and achievement on film, you will start your descent along the same route back to Barafu Camp, where your team awaits you with some snacks and refreshments. Rested and relaxed you will make your way to Mweka Camp for your last night on the highest mountain in Africa.
Day 7: Mweka Camp (3,080m) – Mweka Gate (1,630m)
A scrumptious breakfast is followed by a traditional farewell ceremony from your mountain crew, before you start your final stretch down the mountain. You will once more trek through the rainforest, giving you another opportunity to spot the cheeky colobus monkeys, finally reaching the Mweka gate in about 2 – 3 hours. You will be met at the gate and taken back to hotel for a long shower. The rest of the day is for you to enjoy at leisure and giving yourself a pat on the back for conquering the famous Kilimanjaro!
Machame Route Map
The following map takes you from the Machame gate all the way to Uhuru Peak and to Mweka Gate.
How To Get Fit for the Machame Route
One sure way to get good at what you do is to practice. The best practice for hiking is hiking. Seeing that you are interested in climbing Kilimanjaro, we assume that you already like hiking to some extent. Hike a bit more. If you are lucky enough to be surrounded by hills or even mountains, it is time to see them more often. When? If you are new to this, we suggest starting six months before your planned departure by simply going for an hour (or two) hike a week. When you get the hang of it, after about three weeks, it’s time to beef up your intensity. Bring a pack of 10 to 15kg and add a longer hike of three hours to your week. If this lifestyle is new to you, you will soon reap the benefits of trekking.
After a good few months of solid hiking, it is time to put your endurance to the test. Do back to back long hikes. You can simulate a few days of constant trekking by going hiking for a few days. Easy at that. Plan a smaller trekking holiday or keep it simple by hiking your favorite route on repeat. If you are comfortable hiking for 4 hours a day, 3 days in a row while carrying a 10kg to 15kg backpack, you will be fine.
Moderate Strength Exercise
You will need to get a bit stronger. One way to get stronger is to do some basic strength work. You don’t need a gym membership, as merely using your bodyweight can already give you the results you are looking for. Once or twice a week, depending on how you are feeling, you can do two sets of 10 lunges, 10 squats, and 10 step ups. If you want to push yourself a bit more, you can try to add some pull ups and push up to your routine. Going the extra mile in your strengthening is, however, really not necessary. You can already enjoy trekking when you just stick to the basics. This is not a fitness competition.
That should get you fit!
Where To Book the Machame Route?
It is not easy to find the perfect trekking company when you want to climb Kilimanjaro. Travel agencies like to offer full packages with flights, hotel and more. However, if you are intrepid enough to climb Kilimanjaro, you can also put your own plans together. It is therefore always advised to find a local trekking company that meets your demands and expectations.
On Bookatrekking.com you can easily compare and book local providers and hikes. In addition, we have the lowest price guarantee. Have you found the Machame Route Kilimanjaro ascent of your dreams? In that case, you can proceed with the booking. At Bookatrekking.com you pay a deposit of 15% of the total amount. You pay the remaining amount on location prior to the trek directly to the trekking company.
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