The Machame route which goes by the popular nickname, the “Whiskey” route, is probably the most popular route used to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Machame’s advantage and strong point is the fact that the trail’s environment offers unmatched scenic beauty. This route, however, is a big favourite for those seeking adventure as it is more challenging, steep, and difficult compared to the other routes on Mount Kilimanjaro, therefore it is recommended that climbers plying this route should at least have previous trekking experience in high altitudes. Since the Machame Route is shorter, it is suitable for climbers that need a few days of climbing and those that do not have enough time on their hands otherwise the longer the route, the higher the summit success rate.
Machame Route Location and descending route
So where is the Machame Route on Mount Kilimanjaro? This popular route begins from the Southern side of the mountain with the Machame gate serving as the main starting point. To reach the Machame gate, you will need to drive from Moshi Town, a journey that takes less than an hour. Descent is made using a different route, Mweka Route that takes you down the mountain to the Mweka gate.
Machame Route trail
The trail hikers traverse the rainforest zone of Mount Kilimanjaro towards the ever-beautiful and flat terrain of the Shira Plateau. Shira Plateau is where many routes leading to the summit meet up before taking different directions. Then the route takes another turn heading eastwards crossing below the Southern icefield of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Machame to Uhuru Peak Summit
From the Southern Ice Field which is located on Kilimanjaro’s Southern Circuit, the Machame trail makes its way to the main summit, Uhuru Peak from Barafu..
Machame route can be offered in two options, the shorter 6-day Machame route package and the 7 Days itinerary which we strongly recommend as it adds an extra day for acclimatization. The shorter variation package skips the Karanga camp, combining the fourth and fifth day from Barranco Camp straight to Barafu Camp. From where summiting begins.
How difficult is the 7 Days Machame route package?
Though the Machame Route is considered difficult, this 7 days Machame Route itinerary will make it easier for you due to the extra time for acclimatization as compared to the shorter 6 Days Machame itinerary that excludes the extra acclimatization day.
Normally trekking days on Machame Route feature 6-8 hours of trekking, gaining around 900m to 1000m of altitude per day or 1,100m to 1,200m on exceptional days. Since the route is shorter and steeper, it is more difficult compared to other routes that are more gradual and longer, giving you more time to acclimatize..
Bear in mind that the Machame route is not the most difficult route on Mount Kilimanjaro, in fact, it is one of the most frequented routes up the mountain, all you need is great fitness levels, and confidence to hike for many days over difficult terrain and weather conditions. Having previous hiking experience is an added advantage plus having mental and physical preparedness.
What is the success rate of the 7 Days Machame route?
The 7 days Machame route itinerary has a fairly good success rate of about 85% because it uses the climb high, sleep low rule for acclimatization and also due to the fact that the route uses many up and down hikes facilitating even more and better acclimatization.
Machame Route climbing tips
Make sure you wear well-fitting, comfortable hiking boots to avoid blisters.
Drink as much water as possible, 4-5 liters a day if possible, or even more. Staying hydrated at all times reduces the symptoms of altitude sickness.
Training and fitness play a crucial role in climbing Mount Kilimanjaro via the Machame route.
Make sure you have everything you need in your day pack and gear list. Let us know in advance if anything is missing so that we can sort it out before you embark on your climbing adventure.
Duration: From the starting point, Machame gate to the main summit, Uhuru peak using the Machame route takes a duration of either 6 days or 7 days, the 6 days variation skips one-night accommodation at the Karanga Camp.
Location: The Machame route’s starting point begins from the southern part of Mount Kilimanjaro, which is a mere 49 minutes away from Moshi Town driving.
Difficulty rating: Challenging
Height: The Machame route meets the Uhuru Peak summit at an altitude of 5,895 meters (19,341 feet)
Trail conditions: During your journey to the summit, you will travel through a variety of vegetation zones,, dense vegetation, rocky terrains, and scree-filled, loose gravel paths sometimes. The Machame Route offers amazing vistas and is very scenic.
Climbing requirements: There are no technical climbing requirements on this route
A day-by-day summary of the Machame route 7 Days
Below is a brief summary of what, where, and how long you’ll be hiking Mount Kilimanjaro via the 7-day Machame Route itinerary.
Early in August this year, we embarked on a Mount Kilimanjaro hike with my whole family. We chose the famous Machame Route for seven days, and we loved the fact that we were not alone on the route as we had company for the whole week that we climbed the mountain. It really encouraged us to keep going. The route was very scenic, with amazing views. Our expedition team from Tranquil Kilimanjaro kept singing all the way to encourage us to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. I would like to thank the whole Tranquil Kilimanjaro crew, the likes of Victor and Robert for helping us make it to the top without any complications even when we found it hard to make the final push to the summit after midnight and for helping us decide on this 7-day Machame Route.
Starting point: The starting point for the 7-day Machame route is at the Machame Gate.
We begin the 7 days Machame route by driving to the Machame gate from Moshi town for about less than an hour, around 49 minutes to be precise. The drive takes you through the Machame Village located on the foot slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Once we reach the Machame gate, the starting point of the hike, we take a hike that traverses the dense rainforest zone on a trail that leads up to a ridge until we join our overnight camp of the day, the Machame Camp.
We begin our hike towards the Shira Ridge after bypassing the rainforest zone towards the Shira Plateau located at the heath and moorland zone of Mount Kilimanjaro. The day ends as we head to camp and overnight at the Shira 2 Camp across a river gorge.
The third-day trek takes us to the lava tower, a gigantic rock formation that stands about 1km tall located to the eastern side of Mount Kilimanjaro near a ridge. Bypassing the Senecio located 3,962 m (13,000 ft) high forest which offers the much-needed beautiful view, we descend to the Barranco Camp for your overnight stay and dinner. The location of the Barranco Campsite at a high elevation helps in acclimatization.
We leave the Barranco camp in the morning to start our hiking day by going down a gulley just below the great Barranco Wall. We ascend the Barranco Wall, a steep 274m (900ft) high cliff that doesn’t necessarily demand any technicality.
After ascending the Barranco Wall we traverse a chain of hills interwoven with valleys until we reach the Karanga valley. We head over to our overnight camp of the day for dinner and some sleep at the Karanga Camp, located a steep climb away from the Karanga Valley. This day is reserved for acclimatization.
We start our trek on day five by heading to where our trail and the Mweka trail connect then proceed towards the rocky terrain that leads us to Barafu hut camp.
Reaching Barafu hut marks the end of Mount Kilimanjaro’s southern circuit which is famous for offering magnificent 360-degree and panoramic views of Kibo peak and its main summit, the Uhuru Peak.
At Barafu camp is where we set camp for our rest and dinner before attempting our last push to the summit of the mountain. Two of the three main peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mawenzi Peak, and Kibo peak, are clearly visible from this camp.
Day 6 of the 7-day Machame Route expedition is set aside for a summit attempt, beginning around midnight.
Summit Attempt: 7 Days Machame Route
Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. Near Stella Point (18,900 ft), you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.
Descending the mountain using the 7 days Machame Route
From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.
Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
Elevation: 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft
Distance: 10 km/6 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
7 Days Machame Route’s descent is done via a different route than the ascent route.
Descending the mountain via the Machame route uses the Mweka Route and on our last day of the 7-day Kilimanjaro Machame route package, we continue the descent to Mweka Gate and get awarded with our summit certificates. At the base of the mountain, it can be wet and muddy as it rains often. For about an hour or so we proceed to Mweka village from Mweka gate where our vehicle awaits to return us back to the hotel in Moshi Town.
By comparison, between the 7 Days Machame route package and the 6 days Machame route package, the 7 days variation is much easier as it has an extra day for enough acclimatization, therefore, minimizing altitude sickness symptoms to ensure that your chances of summiting are relatively higher.
How difficult is the Machame Route?
Compared to the other routes, the Machame route is difficult as hikers have to climb the Great Barranco Wall on the fourth day and have to settle with a steep slope towards Kibo peak on summit night. It is important to note that overall, Mount Kilimanjaro does not necessarily require any technical mountaineering skills.
How do I prepare for the 7 Days Machame route?
Any physical activity that you indulge in will obviously make your climbing easier and more enjoyable. The more you aspire to reach the summit the more you should train. Also, consider familiarizing yourself with hiking at high altitudes.
We may supply some of the gear that will make your Mount Kilimanjaro climbing via the 7 days Machame route easier but there is some important gear that will be compulsory for you to purchase or hire. Some of this gear may include, well-fitting mountain climbing boots, headlamps, sunglasses, personal medication, camp, and a non-disposable water bottle. You can read the full list of mountain gear and equipment here.
How to get to the Machame route?
To reach the starting point for the Machame Route, the Machame gate, you will need to fly into Tanzania first and then drive to Mount Kilimanjaro. Travellers flying from the UK, the US, Australia or Canada and other parts of the world like India and the rest of Europe will need to fly into Tanzania’s main international airports like the Kilimanjaro International Airport, Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam or the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya.
What are the climbing requirements for the Machame route?
Mount Kilimanjaro is a walkable mountain so climbers of all types are welcome to hike on this mountain no matter your ability, gender, age or fitness level. That being said, Kilimanjaro still requires careful planning and intense physical training to make it to the top. Always opt for the longer route variations with extra days/time for acclimatization purposes, this guarantees you a higher summit success rate and fewer altitude sickness symptoms.
What permits do I need for the 7 Days Machame Route?
All permits and entry fees for your 7-day Mount Kilimanjaro Machame route package are included in your costs anything that is not covered will be on the “cost excluded list in our itineraries. If you have any questions or need any clarifications, please do not hesitate to contact us here.