The Machame route, known for reasons nobody seems to know, as the "Whiskey" route, is now the most popular route on the mountain. Its popularity reflects the high success rate achieved on this route and the fact that it can be climbed in 7 days.
The approach to the Machame route is from the southwest of Kilimanjaro. The route ascends up through the jungle to Shira Camp and then traverses south towards Barranco via Lava Tower. From there you climb up the Great Barranco Wall before arriving in base camp at Barafu. The final climb is via Stella Point and the descent is on the Mweka route.
Novice climbers are sometimes nervous about how they will cope with the Great Barranco Wall but this is just a short scramble that is really not that tricky and you will be helped by your guide every step of the way. One stride around a rock outcrop is the most precarious part you will experience. Thousands of climbers safely travel this route each year, let alone the Kilimanjaro porters carrying heavy loads.
Climbers sleep in supplied tents at designated campsites, and eat meals either outdoors or inside a large dining tent. Staff prepare all meals and set up the tents.
Because it has a great success rate and is really attractive the Machame route is undoubtedly the busiest on the mountain. To help mitigate this we make sure all our groups hit the trail early and get ahead of the crowds. We also send part of the porter team ahead of you so that they get into the campsites early to get a good spot and make sure that your tent is ready and there is a nice hot drink and snacks when you arrive
Although the Machame route can be climbed over 6 days we recommend taking 7 days. The extra day makes a huge difference to the success rate as it improves acclimatisation and allows you two easier days before you tackle your long summit night. Our climbers invariably say they have benefited from the extra day.
During the main trekking season we run at least one open climb on the Machame route each week, and often more. Each group can accommodate 10 people, and we guarantee to run every booked climb, no exceptions. Our open groups are very popular with fundraisers climbing Kilimanjaro for charity, and we welcome all such climbers. For more information, please see our schedule and availability below.
If you want to make the climb with an open group on a particular date that isn’t on our schedule, please contact us and let us know. Often times we can arrange a new group for a particular set of days upon request.
You will arrive at Kilimanjaro Airport, where a Kandoo driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel in Moshi.
Day four takes us up from Shira 1 Camp to Lava Tower. We will then descend again to the campsite in the Barranco Valley. This is an excellent example of the 'walk high, sleep low' strategy in practice.
The Lava Tower ascent is quite gradual, and we will have an opportunity to rest and eat lunch when we arrive. Along the way, look for excellent views of Helm Glacier, the Western Breach and Kibo.
Day five is a shorter trek, but an energetic one. Just after breakfast we will ascend to the top of the Great Barranco Wall. We'll be above the clouds at this point, and will be able to see the land spread out below us for miles.
Again, we will descend for the night, making camp in the Karanga Valley. Along the way, look for the Decken, Kersten and Heim Glaciers above the valley.
From Karanga Camp, we join the Mweka Descent Trail, and continue along it to the Barafu Hut. The Hut marks the end of the Southern Circuit, along which we will have enjoyed views of the summit from many different angles.
This is another short day, so we'll have a chance to relax a bit, and prepare for the summit day in the morning. Take some time to enjoy the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi which are clearly visible from Barafu Hut.
Day seven begins just before midnight, and will be the most difficult, both mentally and physically.
We'll have a warm drink and a snack before we set off, threading between the Rebman and Ratzel glaciers. Next we'll cross some heavy scree to reach Stella Point (5732 metres) along the crater rim. There we'll have a short rest and enjoy a unique sight: sunrise at the very top of Africa.
Another hour's hike brings us to Uhuru Peak, the real summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Next, we'll descend to Barafu Hut again where our cook will serve an all day breakfast, before continuing on to Mweka Camp (at 3100 metres) for our last dinner on the mountain, and some well-earned sleep.
Elevation: From 4600 metres to 3100 metres
Day eight is our last on the mountain, and will see us trek from Mweka Camp back to the park gate where you will receive a certificate of your achievement.
Expect the last bit of the route to be muddy, but keep an eye out for Columbus monkeys and other jungle wildlife in the trees!
After a night in a warm, comfortable bed at your hotel in Moshi, we'll take you to Kilimanjaro Airport for your return flight.
Congratulations! You've made it!
The Kandoo team will meet you at Kilimanjaro airport and transfer you to your pre-climb hotel. Later you will attend a pre-climb briefing with your Lead Guide to prepare you for the challenge ahead.
After breakfast we will collect you from your hotel for your transfer to Machame Gate for registration. Our porters prepare and pack our supplies and luggage before we start our ascent along the forest trail to Machame Camp.
We start walking, leaving the rainforest behind, and continue our ascent, crossing a small valley and up to a steep rocky ridge, covered with heath. Our route now turns west onto a river gorge until we reach Shira Camp.
Today we will climb up to 4600m to the base of the Lava Tower for lunch and acclimatization. This will be our toughest day so far and you may, for the first time, feel the altitude. After lunch we will descend again by almost 650m to Barranco Camp, following “walk high, sleep low” golden rule of acclimatisation.
Our descent to Barranco Camp takes about 2 hours and offers great opportunities to take some beautiful photographs of the Western Breach and Breach Wall. The camp is situated in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall.
A short, but fun day, starting with a scramble to the top of the Great Barranco Wall. We then traverse over scree to the Karanga Valley (3930m) beneath the icefalls of the Heim, Kersten and Decken Glaciers. From here we continue up to the Barafu Hut. You have now completed the Southern Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. At camp, we can rest, enjoy dinner, and prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are to be clearly seen from this position.
You will be woken at 23:30 with tea and biscuits. We start our trek to the summit between the Rebman and Ratzel glaciers through heavy scree up to Stella Point on the crater rim. This is the most mentally and physically challenging part of the trek. At Stella Point (5732m), we will stop to witness the magnificent sunrise (weather permitting). We are now only an hour away from the summit, Uhuru Peak (5895m), the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro.
From the summit, we descend down to the Mweka Hut camp site, via Barafu for an all-day breakfast. Trekking poles will be needed for the loose scree going down to Mweka Camp (3100m). Later in the evening, we will enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.
Your final day on the trek, departing after breakfast we descend a further 1300m to the Mweka Park Gate to pick up your summit certificates from the Park Headquarters. Transfer to your hotel for a well-earned shower and celebration.
We will collect you from your hotel and transfer you to Kilimanjaro Airport for your departing flight.
The Machame route is considered relatively difficult. Trekkers will need to ascend the Barranco Wall during day four and hike up the steep incline of Kibo during summit night. No technical climbing is required.
The exact trekking distance from gate to gate is 62km or 37 miles.
Due to its climb high sleep low profile, summit success rates on the Machame route are very high. Whilst there are no official statistics, the average success rate across all operators is 85% for the 7 day trek and a 73% success rate for the 6 day trek. However, Kandoo have a 95% summit success rate for the Machame route.
The scenery is extremely varied and you will pass through 5 climatic zones on your way to the summit. The trek begins in rainforest on the lower slopes before continuing up into the low alpine zone of wild grasslands and moorlands. From there you trek into the high alpine zone before reaching the glacial zone. You will encounter many incredible vistas and visit stunning places such as Shira Plateau, Barranco and Lava Tower.