Climbing Kilimanjaro: Machame Route

By AlexToddDestinations

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About the Machame Route

Featuring some truly breathtaking views and a fair challenge, the Machame Route is arguably the most popular trail leading up to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. In addition to the incredible scenery that the area is known for, this route also features a good acclimatization period, which will certainly help to increase your chances of reaching the top!

Traversing plenty of valleys, ridges, and various terrain types, the Machame Route will certainly cause you to break a sweat, but it will also reward you with some of the best viewpoints from which you can gaze out across the stunning African landscape. While trekking uphill, you will also pass by some of the better known Kilimanjaro highlights, including the Shira Plateau and Lava Tower.

Even though it will take you through some physically demanding terrain, such as the imposing Barranco Wall, the extra days of acclimatization and scenic views make this a very popular route. Expect campsites and the trail itself to be very congested at times, particularly during the high season. If you are looking for a more general overview of all that it takes to conquer the highest peak on the African continent, be sure to check out our complete guide to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Machame Route Map

Machame Route Map

Itinerary

Day 1 Machame Gate to the Machame Camp

After driving to the Machame Gate, you will begin your adventure by winding through the rainforest. Once you have left this vibrant setting behind, you will climb up a rugged ridge to spend your first night on the mountain.

Elevation Change: 1,220 m Ascent
Distance: 11.0 km
Time: 5-6h
Terrain: Rain Forest
Overnight Location: Machame Camp (3,026 m)

Climbing Kilimanjaro - Machame Route

Stella 1 by Abir Anwar, CC-BY 2.0

Day 2 Up to the Shira Plateau Camp

The second day of your Kilimanjaro adventure will take you further up the mountainside for views that increase in beauty as you climb. Far below you will have views over the rainforest, as you make your way up to the Shira Plateau for the night.

Elevation Change: 800 m Ascent
Distance: 5.0 km
Time: 4-5h
Terrain: Heath
Overnight Location: Shira Camp (3,766 m)

Climbing Kilimanjaro - Shira Plateau Camp

Kilimanjaro by Stig Nygaard, CC-BY 2.0

Day 3 Trek Past the Lava Tower to Barranco Camp

Today is a bit of a strenuous leg of the trek that will take you to the Lava Tower. After lunch, you will descend into the Baranco Valley to enjoy scenic views of glaciers and nearby Mount Kibo, before setting up camp for the night.

Elevation Change: 863 m Ascent, 646 m Descent
Distance: 10.0 km
Time: 5-6h
Terrain: Alpine Desert
Overnight Location: Barranco Camp (3,983 m)

Climbing Kilimanjaro - Trek Past the Lava Tower to Barranco Camp

_FOU9611.jpg by Murray Foubister, CC BY-SA 2.0

Day 4 Climb the Barranco Wall to Karanga Camp

After experiencing the rugged beauty of the Barranco Wall on the previous day, you will now have to climb over it! The route isn’t technical, but it will take some determination to traverse. Enjoy the views before hiking downhill to your camp.

Elevation Change: 846 m Ascent, 655 m Descent
Distance: 5.0 km
Time: 3-4h
Terrain: Alpine Desert
Overnight Location: Karanga Camp (3,983 m)

Day 5 Trek to Barafu Camp

The fifth day of your adventure is a bit of a shorter one that will take you through a volcanic desert. Take your time acclimatizing to the altitude, before settling into your camp for the night - tomorrow will be an early start!

Elevation Change: 650 m Ascent
Distance: 4.0 km
Time: 3-4h
Terrain: Alpine Desert
Overnight Location: Barafu Camp (4,550 m)

Day 6 Final Ascent to the Summit

Strap on your headlamp and hit the trail early this morning to reach Stella Point, where you can take in the magnificent beauty of a sunrise on Kili. The last stretch of your trek will be challenging, but after a strong push up to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro you will certainly have something to celebrate. Afterwards, you will descend into the Mweka Camp for the night.

Elevation Change: 1,195 m Ascent, 2,805 m Descent
Distance: 18.0 km
Time: 10-13h
Terrain: Rain Forest
Overnight Location: Mweka Camp (3,110 m)

Climbing Kilimanjaro - Final Ascent to the Summit

Summit Climb, Day 5 (1) by american_rugbier, CC BY-SA 2.0

Day 7 Return to the Mweka Gate

The final day of your excursion will be smooth sailing, as you work your way down the mountainside towards the Mweka Gate. Here, you will receive your summit certificate and hop into a vehicle that will take you back to Moshi to wrap up your Kilimanjaro summit adventure.

Elevation Change: 1,410 m Descent
Distance: 10.0 km
Time: 3-4h
Terrain: Rain Forest
Overnight Location: Hotel in Moshi

More Kilimanjaro Resources

When it comes to planning and executing a life-altering trip like a Mount Kilimanjaro summit, there are plenty of factors to take into consideration that will help to ensure that your adventure feels like a custom tailored experience. A great place to start is by looking into all of the different Mount Kilimanjaro tours that are on offer in order to find the perfect trip to meet your needs. Each has their own unique features and levels of difficulty, so if you are wondering if you have the stuff to make it to the top, be sure to read on to answer the question of How Hard is it to Climb Kilimanjaro.

If you already have your trip booked (congrats on the start of your amazing adventure!) you will need to start thinking about training. Luckily we have you covered in that department with a guide on How to Prepare for Mount Kilimanjaro. After spending some serious time preparing your body for the arduous uphill adventure, you can focus on the more logistical aspects of your trip, such as What to Pack for a Mount Kilimanjaro Trekking Tour.

Now will also be the time to tie up any loose ends by checking in with the Tanzanian Embassy to ensure that you have all of the documentation you will need to travel to the country. It might seem like a lot to organize, but taking the necessary steps now will ensure that your Mount Kilimanjaro adventure goes off without a hitch and is an experience that you will never forget.

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