Machame (Whiskey Route) is one of the most popular for Kilimanjaro climbers. We, would recommend the short 6-day programme only to those with climbing experience, reasonable level of fitness and a yearning for a challenge. The main difficulty lies in an altitude gain of over 2,000m (6,600 feet) in 24hrs including summiting, resulting in a 7% drop in success rates. If you are planning to take Machame Route in November, April or May, the path may be eroded by rain making the climb more difficult. The 7-day programme, on the other hand, offers success rates of 85% due to gradual acclimatization and will suit anyone aspiring to climb Kilimanjaro.
DAY 1: AIRPORT TO HOTEL
Transfer by our guide Kilimanjaro International Airport to your chosen hotel. All of the hotels we use offer comfort with rooms with hot showers, swimming pools, pleasant staff and Wi-Fi access. Your tour Manager will brief you on your forthcoming climb in the evening, answer your questions and make sure you are properly equipped for the climb, providing rental gear when necessary.
DAY 2: TREKKING FROM MACHAME GATE TO MACHAME CAMP
A guide and a mountain support crew will arrive at the hotel in the morning in order to meet you and hold a quick briefing, after which you will travel by vehicle to Kilimanjaro National Park’s entrance: Machame Gate (1,800 m). After the quick formality of acquiring climbing permits and registering with the search and rescue service, the group will start trekking up to Machame Camp (3,010 m). The trekking route includes passage through the rainforest (where tropical showers are highly probable), so we recommend you take not only spare clothes, but also your raincoats.
This will be your first day at this altitude, so it is strongly recommended you heed the following instructions from this point on:
- Abstain from consuming alcohol and caffeine
- Drink over 4 liters of bottled water daily (little by little, frequently)
- Take a Diamox pill to help alleviate symptoms of altitude sickness. Most mountain climbers take Diamox in the morning, before they start their ascent, in order to reduce discomfort associated with altitude sickness. We recommend you consult your doctor prior to the trip in case of potential allergies.
At night you may experience discomfort associated with acclimatization to the high altitude: because of a reduction in your waking breathing pattern, your body gets less oxygen than during the day. Taking altitude into account, you may therefore start feeling sick and have a headache. Pay attention to your own body and tell your guide if you start feeling any symptoms of altitude sickness.
Change in Elevation: Machame Gate (1,800 m) — Machame Camp (3,010 m)
Hiking distance: 5 km.
Hiking time: 5–6 hours
DAY 3: TREKKING FROM MACHAME CAMP TO SHIRA CAMP
After breakfast you will start trekking up to the second high-altitude camp, Shira Camp (3,845 m). On this day you will emerge from the rainforest and for the first time be able to see stunning views of the Shira Plateau laid out in front of you. Physically speaking, the trekking is not very difficult, but you may feel the changes in altitude, so pay attention to your body and remember that choosing the proper pace is extremely important for good trekking. When you reach the camp, you will have lunch and some rest, after which the group will go on an acclimatization hike towards Lava Tower Camp with a 300-meter gain in altitude. Back down at Shira Camp you will be served a hot dinner.
Note: The acclimatization hike is an easy trek with a slight gain in altitude done in order to speed up the acclimatization process. You should take the acclimatization hikes very seriously. They help increase your chances of successfully summiting Kilimanjaro and save you from the consequences of altitude sickness.
Change in Elevation: Machame Camp (3,010 m) — Shira Camp (3,845 m)
Hiking distance: 5 km
Hiking time: 4–5 hours
Change in Elevation: Shira Camp (3,845 m) — Destination point en route to Lava Tower (4,120 m)
Hiking distance: 2 km
Hiking time: 1–2 hours.
DAY 4: SHIRA TO BARRANCO CAMP VIA AN ASCENT TO THE LAVA TOWER
Depart Shira Camp after breakfast and head towards Lava Tower ascending from 3,845 to 4,630 m. The rise-and-fall nature of this trek may present some difficulties. However, the 4,600 m altitude at the Lava Tower itself is crucial for proper acclimatization. The lunch break will take place here in order to give you some extra high-altitude time before descending approximately 650 m to Barranco Camp (3,960 m), which is the next overnight stop on this route.
Then you will descend to Barranco Camp (3,960 m). Here you can see the famous Barranco Wall, impressive in both its massive size and steepness! Next day you will be climbing it, but don’t worry: it features a very simple hiking trail.
NB: In those cases where some group members feel uncomfortable climbing up to Lava Tower, the route may be changed to bypass it resulting in the highest point reached 4,400 meters.
Altitude: Shira Camp (3,845 m) — Lava Tower (4,630 m) — Barranco Camp (3,960 m).
Distance: 11 km
Time: 6–8 hrs.
DAY 5: TREKKING FROM BARRANCO CAMP TO KARANGA CAMP
On this day it is best to make an early start to avoid crowding on the way up Barranco Wall. Despite the Wall’s seemingly daunting height and steepness the actual climb is rather merciful at a mere hour or so. The top provides a great photo opportunity with Kibo Peak as the backdrop.
The next part of the day is rife with ups and downs where your guides will choose the best place for individual climbers.
A lunch break at Karanga Camp shall be followed by an acclimatization climb towards Barafu with its highest point being 4,270 m. The group then drops back to Karanga Camp for the overnight.
Trekking between Barranco and Karanga Camp:
Altitude: Barranco: 3,960 m – Karanga: 4,035 m.
Distance: 5 km
Time: 4–5 hrs.
Altitude: Karanga Camp (4,035 m) — highest point reached: 4,270 m
Distance: 2.5 km
Time: 1–2 hrs.
DAY 6: TREKKING FROM KARANGA CAMP TO BARAFU CAMP
After breakfast you begin your way to Barafu Summit Camp (4,640 m). Our team will set up a camp for you ahead of time, including tents and sleeping bags, so you can relax. After regaining strength, you have to complete an acclimatization climb towards the intermediate Kosovo Summit Camp with its highest point being 4,800 m and then back to Barafu Camp, where you will be served a hot dinner. It is better to spend the remainder of the day resting and sleeping before night summiting.
Trekking between Karanga and Barafu Camp:
Altitude: Karanga Camp (4,035 m) — Barafu Camp (4,640 m)
Distance: 6 km
Time: 4–5 hrs.
Altitude: Barafu Camp (4,640 m) — Kosovo Camp (4,800 m)
Distance: 2 km
Time: 1–2 hrs.
DAY 7: SUMMITING ON UHURU PEAK AND DESCENT TO MILLENIUM CAMP
Summiting starts around midnight from 4,635 m, ending on Uhuru Peak at 5,895 m. While the trek itself is fairly simple, rarified mountain air does pose a challenge. Therefore, a guide who will monitor their condition throughout the climb shall accompany every two climbers ensuring safety above all. Upon summiting, you shall have an opportunity to walk on the nearby glacier.
The descent to 3,820 m at Millennium Camp starts after a two-hour rest back at Barafu Camp.
NB: Descent is deceptively easy with treacherous footing and results in 90% of accidents. Mind your feet if you want to avoid falling and damaged toenails!
Altitude: Barafu Camp (4,640 m) — Uhuru Peak (5,895 m) — Millennium Camp (3,820 m).
Distance: 15.5 km
Time: 7–12 hrs.
DAY 8: DESCENT FROM MILLENNIUM CAMP TO MWEKA GATE
This last camp’s position being far lower at the forest line will afford you a good night’s sleep further enhanced by thoughts of having reached the top. Breakfast will be followed by the return to 1,650 m at the final point in this adventure- Mweka Gate. After a short celebration with the whole of the climb crew and arrival at our offices, you will receive your climb certificates, followed by the drive to your lodge.
Altitude: Millennium Camp (3,820 m) — Mweka Gate (1,650 m)
Distance: 12 km
Time: 4–5 hrs.
DAY 9: DEPARTURE
Rest in the hotel and transfer to the airport.