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tanzania adventure holidays, Climb Mount Kilimanjaro: Machame Route The Natural Adventure Company
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Climb Mount Kilimanjaro: Machame Route

Overview

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest single free-standing mountain in the world at 5895 m above sea level. It is located in Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania and is one of the most popular climbing destinations globally. All our Kilimanjaro itineraries are privately guided – you can start on any date you wish, subject to availability, and we are happy to accommodate solo travellers, too (supplement may apply). We typically provide one chief English-speaking guide plus an assistant guide per every two people, as well as three porters per climber and one cook for the group. Our Kilimanjaro private departures offer arguably the best value for money on the market with an above-average success rate.

There are several trekking routes to the summit, and among them, the Machame Route (also called the Whiskey Route) is the most popular, with its fantastic scenery and high success rate (85% on average and above 90% for our trips). It is also great for acclimatisation, allowing you to walk high and sleep low every day naturally. Its downside is that everybody likes it (about 50% of all climbs are done via the Machame Route), so in peak periods it can be quite busy. While the ascent does not involve any technical climbing, the Machame Route is demanding, and a sound level of fitness is an essential pre-requisite. 

Our standard Machame Route itinerary is 8 nights (7 trekking days, 9 days total). As all our departures are private, we can be quite flexible and on request, we can adapt the itinerary and make it shorter or longer to suit your preferences and stamina.

Click to view map

*This map is for general reference only and it should not be used for navigation purposes.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Arusha | 1400 m

Pick up at Kilimanjaro international airport, met with your guide and drive to your hotel in Arusha, where you overnight before the trek begins.

Day 2: Machame Gate – Machame Camp | 3100 m

Early pick-up at your hotel and a 1.5-hour drive to Machame gate (5400 m) where registration formalities take about 30 minutes. From the gate, we begin our trek following an easy track for the first hour through the dense forest. The path continues to follow the ridge, rising steadily with several steep sections. The gradient eases slightly as the forest merges into the heather covered ground and we reach Machame Camp.

  • Hiking for the day: 5-7 hours, ~10 km ↑1200 m; final elevation: 3100 m

Day 3: Machame Camp – Shira Camp | 3000 m

From the Machame Camp, we cross the stream onto its west bank and follow an ascending path, crossing the valley along a steep rocky ridge. The route now turns west onto a river gorge until we arrive at the Shira campsite at the base of a semi-circular wall of rocks.

  • Hiking for the day: 7 hours, ~6 km ↑800 m; final elevation: 3000 m

Day 4: Shira Camp – Barranco Camp | 3950 m

This day is important for acclimatization. From Shira Camp hike to Lava Tower and then proceed to Barranco via the Great Barranco Wall. This route offers panoramic views of Kibo through Karanga Valley as we hike high and sleep low, dropping back down to Barranco after lunch. Today’s hike will take most of the day.

  • Hiking for the day: 5-6 hours, ~10 km ↑100 m; final elevation: 3950 m

Day 5: Barranco Camp – Karanga Camp | 4000 m

From Barranco Camp, we climb up through the edge of great Barranco Wall. We climb on a tough steep trail, but once we reach the top, we will enjoy spectacular panoramic views. 95 % of the day’s walking will be on an elevation of 4250 m. After a short break, we head down through the Karanga Valley to Karanga campsite where we will spend the night. 

  • Hiking for the day: 3-4 hours, ~4 km ↑100 m; final elevation: 4000 m

Day 6: Karanga Camp – Barafu Camp | 4600 m

Today involves gaining a little more elevation and acclimatizing as we head up to Barafu Camp. An early dinner and rest for the summit attempt the next morning.

  • Hiking for the day: 3-4 hours, ~4 km ↑600 m; final elevation: 4600 m

Day 7: Barafu Camp – The Summit – Mweka Camp | 5895 m

We will start trekking early before sunrise (1:00 h – 2:00 h) as the walk today will take about 14 hours in total. This is the most challenging part of the hike. We will avoid the mist that sets in later in the day; the scree and snow will still be safely frozen. The 1,100-metre ascent in just over 3 km will take us about 6-8 hours. After a brief stay at the summit of the highest point in Africa, Uhuru Peak, we descend via the Barafu Route with a short stop at Barafu Camp for lunch and rest to Mweka Camp.

Hiking for the day:

  • Barafu – Uhuru: 7 hours, ~5 km ↑1300 m; final elevation: 5895 m
  • Uhuru – Mweka Camp: 5 hours, ~12 km, ↓2800 m; final elevation: 3100 m

Day 8: Mweka Camp – Mweka Gate – Arusha | 1400 m

Today we descend about 1400 metres through the forest on a jungle path for about 10 km in 3-4 hours to reach Mweka Gate. Our driver will transfer you back to your hotel in Arusha city.

  • Hiking for the day: 4 hours, ~10 km ↓1250 m; final elevation: 1828 m
  • Overnight in Arusha: SG Premium Resort or similar

Day 9: Departure

Transfer to Kilimanjaro Airport and departure. Possible safari extension on request.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation in Arusha is in a 3-star hotel on a twin share basis. The accommodation during the hike is in tents in camps. There is no electricity in the camps inside the national park, and we recommend climbers to bring battery chargers they can plug in the car, or the driver will take you to the nearest lodge to charge batteries. Public toilets are available at the camps, but they are often quite filthy; therefore, our standard package always includes a private portable toilet. There are no showers in the camps and no Wi-Fi.

Sample hotel in Arusha: SG Premium Resort

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a property of equal standard. We will provide full accommodation details upon booking confirmation.

Meals

All meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – are included during the hike – from lunch on day 2 to the lunch on day 8. In Arusha, only breakfast is included. A typical breakfast includes porridge, fruits, omelette, toasted bread, cheese, sausages, coffee, tea, hot chocolate. A lunch box contains chicken or fish, fruits, biscuits, chocolate, fruit juice. Dinner includes soup, bread, pasta, rice, chicken, fruits, tea, coffee etc. A vegetarian menu can be arranged on request.

Difficulty & terrain

This is a demanding trek but is not a technical climb (read more about difficulty grades). Both experienced hikers and beginners can do the tour as it does not require technical skills and mountaineering equipment. But it is mandatory that you are in great shape and should have properly trained before the tour. Walking pace will be slow and steady. The Machame route starts with walking on steep paths through magnificent forests to reach a ridge leading through zones above the tree-line to the Shira Plateau. Then the route traverses under the glaciated precipices to the south face of the Kibo volcanic cone. The final ascent is made very early in the morning from the Barafu Camp. For the descent, we will use the Mweka Route, which is quicker and offers different landscapes to enjoy.

When to go

This trip is available with daily private departures, year-round. Best time to climb weatherwise is either between June and October or between December and February – which are also the busiest times. In April and May, there are generally fewer climbers because of the rain season. Mt. Kilimanjaro climate features 5 different zones. At the beginning of the climb, the average temperature is around 27°C to 32°C and tends to be relatively stable year-round. At the summit, Uhuru Peak, evening temperatures range between -18°C to -26°C. As the weather is often unpredictable, you should always be prepared for lower temperatures than expected and for rain even in the dry season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Recommended airport: Kilimanjaro International Airport

  • Transfers Kilimanjaro Airport – Arusha and Arusha – Kilimanjaro Airport are included in the price (one arrival and one departure transfer per party)
  • It is also possible to fly to Nairobi Aiport and take a shuttle to Arusha, about 5-hour drive. You will need a visa to Kenya.

Good to know

  • Guides: the guides used are highly trained and qualified, registered with the Kilimanjaro National Parks Board. There will be one chief guide, and one assistant guide will be provided to every 2 climbers. In case a climber gets sick or unable to continue, an assistant guide will help them descend to the lower altitude or even back to the hotel.
  • Visas: the citizens of most European countries, the USA, Canada, Australia, need a visa to enter Tanzania, it is recommended that you apply online for an eVisa in advance
  • Luggage transportation: your luggage will be placed in specially designed waterproof bags carried by the porters, giving it that extra protection if it is wet on the mountain.
  • Altitude sickness: while climbing, you may experience different symptoms of mild altitude sickness, with the most common being headaches, light-headedness, nausea, sleeplessness and a loss of appetite, loss of balance and dizziness. In most cases, these can be controlled by taking painkillers such as panadol or similar. It’s important to eat well and maintain your energy. Staying hydrated is essential, and you should drink a minimum of 3 litres daily.
  • Sun injuries: it is strongly recommended to use a 30+ sun protection cream at lower altitudes, and a total block cream above an altitude of 3000 m. Wearing sunglasses when climbing is a must, especially for the summit hike as the morning reflection of the sun can lead to snow blindness.
  • Tips guidelines: head guide – 200-250 USD; assistant guide – 100-150 USD; cook – 100-120 USD; porter – 30-40 USD
  • Equipment: we recommend that you travel as lightly as possible, bringing backpacks and not suitcases.

Inclusions

Included

  • Transfers from/to Kilimanjaro Airport
  • Transfers to/from the national part gates
  • 7-day Machame route trek with a full board from lunch on day 2 to lunch on day 8
  • 2 overnights at a 3-star hotel in Arusha in private rooms with ensuite facilities and included breakfast
  • All park fees and government taxes
  • Tents and mattresses on the trek
  • Private chemical toilet available on all days
  • Boiled water
  • First aid kit box, oxygen cylinder
  • Services of a private English-speaking professional mountain guide and one assistant guide per every two climbers
  • 3 porters per climber, 1 cook per party

Excluded

  • Airfare
  • Lunches and dinners in Arusha, drinks, snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips to guides and porters
  • Sleeping bag, own climbing equipment
  • Tanzanian visa
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as some costs are not shared
  • Extra nights in Arusha are available upon request
  • A sleeping bag can be rented on the spot for about 20 USD

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