8 Day Mount Kilimanjaro Machame Trek
The Machame is a beautiful route up Kilimanjaro that allows you to experience the southwest and south sides of the mountain, since we go up one way and down another. We ascend Kilimanjaro's summit via the southwestern side of the mountain, past Shira's peak. Shira is the oldest of the three volcanoes and therefore its plateau more eroded that its counterparts. As a result, the plateau supports very rich vegetation and wildlife and is considered one of the most beautiful areas of the mountain. Up here there is grassland, heath and moor as well as eland, buffalo and sometimes even leopard. Ascending into the high valleys nearer the cone, the unique vegetation of giant lobelia and groundsel can reach 10 meters high. Above 400m, only mosses and lichens survive and as we near the summit we reach the snowline, an unusual African sight. On descent the Shira route takes a more direct southern route off the mountain.
All equipment and supplies are carried by porters and a cook prepares all meals on the mountain. Unlike the on Marangu Route, where you sleep in huts, on the Machame you sleep in tents pitched by the porters and meals in a dinner tent or on a blanket. This makes Machame better suited to more adventurous hikers and it rewards you with better views than on the Marangu Route. From later afternoon sunsets at Shira to the misty revelations at Kibo's great Marangu Wall, the Machame route seems to offer hikers a continuous scenic slide show. As the route is completed in 6 days, rather than 5, it can greatly help acclimatization as you ascend.
Please Note: This tour can also start and finish in Moshi. Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) is situated a 40 minute drive from the Moshi hotel and we can easily arrange for you to be collected at the airport on arrival.
Brief ItineraryDay 1: Transfer from Nairobi to Moshi Day 2: Trek to Machame Camp - 2980m Day 3: Trek to Shira Camp - 3850m Day 4: Trek to Barranco Camp - 3950m Day 5: Trek to Barafu Camp - 4550m Day 5: Trek to Uhuru Peak - 5895m / Trek to Mweka Camp - 3100m Day 6: Trek to Mweka Village - 1980m Day 7: Transfer from Moshi to Nairobi
Day 1: Transfer from Nairobi to Moshi
From Nairobi we travel by scheduled bus to Moshi. You will be collected between 07:15 - 07:30 (selected departure points only) and you should arrive in Moshi in the late afternoon. The shuttle crosses the Athi Plain and continues to the border point at Namanga. Once formalities are complete we continue to Arusha where you may be asked to change buses for the final drive 80km to Moshi. The remainder of the day is at leisure - to relax and prepare for the following days' trek.
Day 2: Trek to Machame Camp - 2980m (18km, 5-7 hours) (B / L / D)
After breakfast and a briefing from your guide, we leave Moshi and drive for a 50 minute drive to Machame Gate and the start point of the trek. Depending on road conditions, so we may have to walk from Machame Village itself to the gate. At the gate we register, meet our mountain guides and the porters prepare and pack all equipment and supplies. As we start our ascent we enter rainforest immediately. On some occasions the paths we take can get soggy here and poles and gaiters are very useful. We stop for lunch halfway up and aim to reach Machame Camp in the late afternoon. Our porters arrive at camp before us and pitch our tents. This evening the porters also boil drinking water and washing water while the cook prepares dinner. Night temperatures can drop to freezing here.
Day 3: Trek to Shira Camp - 3840m (15km, 7 hours) (B / L / D)
We rise early at Machame Camp and continue our trek after breakfast, soon reaching the end of the forest and walking for two hours through gentle moorland. After a short lunch rest we then continue up a rocky ridge to Shira Plateau where we take our first look at Kilimanjaro's great Western Breach and its stunning glaciers and ice curtains. We are now west of Kibo on the opposite side of the mountain from the Marangu Route. After a short hike west from here we reach Shira Camp and are greeted with well earned tea or coffee. Then there's time to unpack and rest before dinner in the early evening.
Day 4: Trek to Barranco Camp - 3950m (15km, 7 hours) (B / L / D)
After breakfast we hike east up a steep path above the vegetation. After several hours we walk through a rocky landscape to reach the prominent landmark called lava Tower at 4,630m. This chunky remnant of kilimanjaro's earlier volcanic activity is several hundred feet high and the trail passes right below it. It is possible for those sure-footed hikers to scramble to the top of the tower, but you may prefer just to enjoy lunch at the bottom of it. This afternoon we descend for about two hours below the lower cliffs of the Western breach and Breach Wall to Barranco Camp at 3,950. There are numerous photo opportunities on this hike, especially if the walls are covered with glistening ice. Barranco camp is in a valley beneath the Breach and Great Barranco Walls which should provide us with a memorable sunset before dinner. An extra acclimatisation day can be spent here.
Day 5: Trek to Barafu Camp - 4550m (13km, 8 hours) (B / L /D)
This morning we continue up a steep ridge to the great Barranco Wall and climb to its top, which is fortunately easier than it looks. Popping out just below the Heim Glacier we can now appreciate the beauty of Kilimanjaro. With Kibo's glaciers soaring overhead we descend into the lush Karanga Valley, from where it is sometimes possible to look east on a clear day and see the jagged peaks of Mawenzi jutting into the African sky. We hike east over interlocking ridges and valleys to join the Mweka Route which will also be our descent route. For now, however, all eyes are on the summit, and so, turning left towards the mountain, we hike up a ridge for another hour to the Barafu Hut. The last water on the route is in the Karanga Valley - there is no water at Barafu Camp, even though Barafu is the Swahili word for 'ice'. The famous snows of Kilimanjaro are far above Barafu Camp near the summit of the mountain.
Up here our camp is located on a narrow windswept ridge so it is important we familiarise ourselves with our surroundings before nightfall. The guide will also remind us tonight to prepare our equipment and warm clothing for our summit climb and to drink lots of fluids. We have an early dinner to allow some extra hours of sleep.
Day 6: Trek to Uhuru Peak - 5895m (8 hours) followed by trek to Mweka Camp - 3100 (7-8 hours) (B / L /D)
We rise around 11:30pm and after tea and biscuits embark on our final push to the summit. Our 6 hour climb northwest up through heavy scree between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers to Stella Point on the crater rim is the most challenging part of the route for most climbers. At Stella Point (5685m) we stop for a short rest and the chance to see a supreme sunrise, but not for too long as it is difficult to start again if we get too cold. From here we join the top part of the Marangu Route. Depending on the season and recent storms we may encounter snow on our remaining hike along the rim to Uhuru Peak.
On the summit we enjoy our accomplishment - on the roof of Africa! We can enjoy the views of the surrounding plains as they wake up to the day before our descent back down. It is a 3 hour descent back to Barafu Camp where after a little rest we collect our gear and hike down a rock and scree path into moorland and eventually forest, finishing at Mweka Camp. This camp is in the upper forest so it is often misty or rainy in late afternoon. Dinner and washing water will be prepared and there is even a camp office that sells refreshments here - luxury!
Day 7: Trek to Mweka Village - 1980m (15km, 4 hours) (B / L)
Today after a hearty breakfast it's a short scenic 3 hour hike back to the park gate. We tip our guides and porters together, (once we and all our gear have reached the gate safely) and successful climbers receive their certificates. From the gate it's an hour hike along a mud road to Mweka village and after a rewarding hot lunch we drive back to Moshi for showers and a comfortable night in our hotel. This evening is a chance to relax and reflect upon what you have just achieved before the second part of your adventure begins. Tonight you will be contacted by the guide who will be taking you on safari and arrangements made for your departure the following morning.
Day 8: Transfer from Moshi to Nairobi (B)
After a relaxed morning we board a scheduled shuttle bus back via Arusha, to Nairobi. The expected time of arrival back in the Kenyan capital is 18:30 - 1930. The tour ends on arrival.