The Machame Route is a popular and challenging way to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa. Known for its stunning scenery and diverse terrain, the Machame Route is a seven-day trek that takes you through lush rainforest, moorland, and alpine desert. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Machame Route and what you can expect on your climb.
Introduction to the Machame Route
The Machame Route, also known as the “Whiskey Route,” is one of the most scenic and challenging ways to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s a popular choice for climbers who want to experience the stunning beauty of the mountain and test their endurance and physical fitness.
The Machame Route starts on the southwestern side of Mount Kilimanjaro at the Machame Gate. From there, you’ll trek through lush rainforest for several hours before reaching your first campsite at Machame Camp. Over the next few days, you’ll continue your ascent through a variety of different landscapes, including moorland and alpine desert. Along the way, you’ll pass several iconic landmarks, including the Shira Plateau, Lava Tower, and Barranco Wall.
Climbing the Machame Route
The Machame Route is considered a challenging climb and requires a certain level of physical fitness and endurance. It’s recommended that climbers spend some time acclimatizing to the altitude before starting the climb. You’ll also need to bring appropriate gear and clothing, including a warm sleeping bag, waterproof jacket and pants, sturdy hiking boots, and a hat and gloves.
The Machame Route is a seven-day trek, with six days spent climbing and one day spent descending. Each day, you’ll hike for several hours, covering an average of 10-12 kilometers per day. You’ll also spend each night at a different campsite, with the final night spent at the summit.
Highlights of the Machame Route
The Machame Route is known for its stunning scenery and diverse terrain. Some of the highlights of the climb include:
- Trekking through lush rainforest and spotting wildlife such as monkeys and birds
- Passing through the Shira Plateau, a high-altitude desert with stunning views of the mountain
- Climbing the Lava Tower, a towering rock formation that offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape
- Tackling the Barranco Wall, a steep and challenging climb that requires some scrambling
- Reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Uhuru Peak, and enjoying panoramic views of Africa from the top
Tips for Climbing the Machame Route
If you’re planning to climb the Machame Route, here are some tips to help you prepare:
- Train in advance to build your endurance and physical fitness
- Spend some time acclimatizing to the altitude before starting the climb
- Bring appropriate gear and clothing for the trek, including a warm sleeping bag and waterproof jacket and pants
- Stay hydrated and eat plenty of high-energy foods to keep your energy levels up
- Listen to your guide and follow their advice to ensure a safe and successful climb
The history of Machame Route
Machame Route has a rich history that dates back to the early 1900s. The route was first used by the Chagga people, who are the indigenous people of the Kilimanjaro region. They used the route to transport goods, crops, and livestock from the foothills of the mountain to the villages on the other side.
In the 1930s, European explorers started using the route to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. The route was named “Whiskey Route” by the Europeans due to its steepness and difficulty level, as opposed to the easier “Coca-Cola Route” (Marangu Route).
Today, Machame Route is one of the most popular routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, attracting thousands of trekkers every year.
The features of Machame Route
Machame Route is known for its breathtaking scenery and diverse vegetation zones. Trekkers start their journey in the lush rainforest, where they can see monkeys, birds, and other wildlife. As they gain altitude, they enter the heath and moorland zone, where they can see giant lobelias and senecios. Finally, they enter the alpine desert zone, where they can see glaciers and snowfields before reaching the summit.
The route also features several campsites, including Machame Camp
at 3,010 meters (9,875 feet), Shira Camp at 3,845 meters (12,615 feet), Barranco Camp at 3,950 meters (12,960 feet), Karanga Camp at 4,035 meters (13,200 feet), and finally, Barafu Camp at 4,673 meters (15,331 feet), which is the base camp for the summit attempt.
The itinerary of Machame Route
The standard itinerary for Machame Route takes six to seven days to complete, but there are also shorter and longer options available, depending on your preference and fitness level. Here’s a brief overview of the standard itinerary:
Day 1: Machame Gate to Machame Camp
The trek starts at Machame Gate, where trekkers register and obtain necessary permits. From there, trekkers walk through the rainforest to reach Machame Camp, which takes about six hours.
Day 2: Machame Camp to Shira Camp
The trek continues through the heath and moorland zone to reach Shira Camp, which takes about five to six hours.
Day 3: Shira Camp to Lava Tower and Barranco Camp
The trek takes trekkers to Lava Tower at 4,600 meters (15,090 feet), where they can acclimatize to the high altitude. From there, trekkers descend to Barranco Camp at 3,950 meters (12,960 feet), which takes about six to seven hours.
Day 4: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
The trek takes trekkers through the Barranco Wall, a steep and challenging section of the route. From there, trekkers descend to Karanga Camp, which takes about four to five hours.
Day 5: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
The trek takes trekkers through the alpine desert zone to reach Barafu Camp, which is the base camp for the summit attempt. The trek takes about four to five hours.
Day 6: Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak and Mweka Camp
The summit attempt starts at midnight, where trekkers ascend to Uhuru Peak, the highest point of Mount Kilimanjaro. From there, trekkers descend to Mweka Camp, which takes about 10 to 14 hours.
Day 7: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
The final trek takes trekkers through the rainforest to reach Mweka Gate, where they can receive their certificates for completing the trek.
FAQs about Machame Route
- What is the best time to climb Machame Route? Answer: The best time to climb Machame Route is during the dry seasons, which are from January to March and from June to October.
- Do I need to have prior climbing experience to climb Machame Route? Answer: No, you don’t need to have prior climbing experience, but you should have a good level of fitness and be prepared for the physical demands of the trek.
- What is the success rate of Machame Route? Answer: The success rate of Machame Route is around 85%.
- What is the altitude sickness on Machame Route? Answer: Altitude sickness is a common problem on Machame Route due to the high altitude. Trekkers are advised to take necessary precautions, such as drinking enough water and acclimatizing properly.
- What is the cost of climbing Machame Route? Answer: The cost of climbing Machame Route varies depending on the tour operator and the package chosen around $2,500 to $3,500 per person.
- Can I climb Machame Route solo? Answer: No, climbing Machame Route solo is not allowed. You must climb with a licensed tour operator and guide.
The Machame Route is a challenging and rewarding way to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. With its stunning scenery and diverse terrain, it’s a popular choice for adventurous climbers, most of whom are always aiming for the peak.