Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro / Machame Route
One of the main attractions of Tanzania is Mount Kilimanjaro. This gigantic mountain stands 5,895 meters tall and is the highest mountain in Africa. This mountain is most famous for its three summits which include Shira, Kibo, and Mawenzi. While the two other summits of Mount Kilimanjaro suffered significant erosion; Kibo, being the youngest and highest peak remains an almost-perfect cone. Hiking mount Kilimanjaro is enjoyable and should be on every one’s bucket list. The trail takes the machame route.
Scaling the mountain’s heights is a feat that takes plenty of perseverance and it’s important to undergo acclimatization before climbing the mountain to reduce the risk of altitude sickness.
Hiking mount Kilimanjaro can be under taken privately accompanied by the mountain guide and porters or in group subject to availability.
We will spend the nights in mountain huts. We buy fresh produce and other food locally, and to ensure high standards of hygiene the food is prepared by our own staff. We can cater for special dietary requirements with advance notice at no extra charge.
You only require bottled water on the first and last day. The other days we will boil water or add purifying tablets then filter using MSR water filtering pump before refilling in your water bottles in the morning.
Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro ITINERARY
Nairobi – Moshi
A representative from goshawk tours will meet you at your hotel or pick you up from the airport and he or she will assist you to board a shuttle bus from Nairobi at 0830 hrs and proceed to Arusha arriving at 1300hrs.
Depart for Moshi at 1400hrs arriving at 1530hrs. Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Moshi or (Pick up from Kilimanajaro airport and transfer to hotel in Moshi).
Moshi – Machame Camp
Drive for 45 minutes to Machame village where the guides and porters will be preparing and packing the supplies and your equipment.
You will receive packed lunch and you can also buy mineral water in the village. If the weather permits you can be driven to the park gate if not we will walk three kilometers to the gate which takes about an hour.
Register at the Machame gate 1490 meters and start climbing through the forest to Machame camp which is at 2980 meters above sea level. The trail is muddy and very steep.
Lunch en route mid way arriving Machame camp in the afternoon, the porters will have long arrived and pitched tents. In the evening the cook will boil drinking and washing water and prepare dinner. Dinner and overnight at the camp.
[Time: 7 hours] Covering eighteen kilometres.
Machame camp – Shira Camp
After breakfast descend a bit and then trek towards shira cathedral passing by Bivi cave then to Shira camp which is at 3840 meters having lunch en route.
From this point the glaciers are visible. In the evening the cook will boil drinking and washing water and prepare dinner. The temperature at this elevation will drop below freezing point. Dinner and overnight at the camp.
[Time: 6 hours] Covering nine kilometres.
Shira Camp – Baranco Camp
After breakfast hike to Baranco Camp via Lava Tower which is at 3840 meters where lunch will be served. Ascend the rocky scree to Lava tower 4,630 meters by now some climbers should be experiencing short off breadth and headaches, today’s hike is meant to acclimatize and this will be the most difficult day yet.
Descend down to Baranco camp 3950 meters and by now the benefits of acclimatizing should be evident. This descent to Barranco camp takes about 2 hours and offers great opportunities to take some beautiful photographs of the Western Breach and Breach Wall.
The camp is situated in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall, which should provide you with a memorable sunset while you wait for the preparation of your dinner.
[Time: 7 hours] Covering fifteen kilometres.
Baranco Camp – Barafu Camp
After breakfast set off and start today’s hike, ascend from the Great Barranco Wall and make your way past the Heim Glacier looking down from this point one just appreciates the awesome sceneries of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Continue with the trek through the Karanga valley where you will find intersecting ridges and valleys that join the Mweka route which is the preferred route to descend from the summit. Karanga valley is the last water stop as there is no water at the Barafu camp. Take a left turn up the ridge and walk for an hour to arrive at Barafu Camp.
The weather conditions at this point are terrible and the camp is totally exposed. The camping ground is rocky and the ridges are dangerous so it’s best to familiarize yourself with your surrounding to avoid un necessary accidents.
Prepare your equipment and thermal clothing for your summit attempt. This should include the replacement of your headlamp and camera batteries and make sure you have a spare set available as well.
To prevent freezing it is wise to carry your water in a thermal flask. You will wake up very early the same night for the summit attempt so get to bed early for a good rest.
[Time: 7 hours] Covering thirteen kilometres.
Barafu Camp – Mweka hut
Wake up at midnight and have tea and some biscuits, trek for six hours heading the north-westerly direction ascending through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim, this is the most challenging trek for many climbers. Rest for a short while at Stella point which is at 5685 meters above sea level.
The reward for getting this far is the amazing view of the sunrise from the horizon if the weather permits. From Stella Point you will normally encounter snow all the way on your 2-hour ascent to Uhuru Peak. The time you will spend on the summit will depend on the weather conditions.
Do not stop here for too long, as it will be extremely difficult to start again due to cold and fatigue. On arrival at the highest point in Africa part yourself on the back for your accomplishment and enjoy the view.
The walk back to Barafu from the summit, takes about 3 hours. Here you will have a well earned but short rest and collect the rest of your gear.
Descend further down to mweka hut, the route is not difficult and will take you down the rock and scree path into the moorland and eventually into the forest.
The camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Dinner and washing water will be prepared.
[Time: 15 hours] Covering thirty kilometres.
Mweka hut – Moshi
After breakfast descend to the park gate which will take about 3 hours. It is strongly recommended not to pay your porters any tips until you and all your gear have reached the gate safely.
Sign out at the Mweka gate, write your name and other details in a register and this is also where successful climbers receive their summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Stella Point (5685m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895m) receive gold certificates.
From the Mweka Gate you will continue down into the Mweka village, normally a muddy 3 km 1 hour walk. In the Mweka village you will be served a delicious hot lunch and after wards drive back to Moshi for a long overdue hot shower, dinner and celebrations for hiking mount Kilimanjaro. Overnight at the Spring lands hotel.
[Time: 3 hours] Covering fifteen kilometres.
- Transport to and from the base of the mountain.
- Park entrance fees.
- Accommodation in mountain huts.
- Meals as described in the itinerary.
- Services of a mountain guide, porters & a cook.
- Rescue fee.
- H.F Radio communication for backup in case of an emergency.
- All government taxes.
- International airfares.
- Climbing equipments.
- All expenditure of personal nature such as telephone calls, hard drinks, soft drinks and laundry.
- Travel Insurance.
Mount Kilimanjaro NATIONAL PARK
Africa’s highest mountain and the world’s highest free standing mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro which is also referred to as “The Roof of Africa” stands at 5895 metres above sea level. The mountain is a dormant volcano and has three outstanding peaks namely shira at 3962m, mawenzi at 5149m and kibo at 5895m. Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo’s crater rim.
Kilimanjaro is a giant stratovolcano that began forming a million years ago, when lava spilled from the Rift Valley zone. Two of its three peaks, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct while Kibo (the highest peak) is dormant and could erupt again.
The last major eruption has been dated to 360,000 years ago, while the most recent activity was recorded just 200 years ago. Although it is dormant, Kibo has fumaroles that emit gas in the crater. Scientists concluded in 2003 that molten magma is just 400 m (1,310 ft) below the summit crater. Several collapses and landslides have occurred on Kibo in the past, one creating the area known as the Western Breach.
Kilimanjaro was first climbed in 1889 by German geographer Hans Meyer and Austrian mountain climber Ludwig Purtscheller.
There are six routes that one can use to climb the mountain that is Marangu, Mweka, Umbwe, Machame, Shira and Rongai. Only four of these routes are commonly used.
Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro Routes
Machame route “Whiskey route” is by far the most scenic route climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. The hike begins at Machame Gate through the rainforest then to shira plateau and Baranco wall, circumventing the mountain in that the climber has great views from different angles.
This route has minimal traffic and its more demanding thus requires climbers who are physically fit. It also takes a day longer compared to Marangu route. The Machame trail is much steeper compared to Marangu route which inclines gradually.
MT. KILIMANJARO TOPOGRAPHY
Mount Kilimanjaro vegetation zones are characterized by tropical forest, open moorland, alpine desert and finally rocks and ice fields. From 1850 m – 2800m we have the montane forest. The area is usually damp or wet due to rainfall. Notably there isn’t a bamboo forest on mount Kilimanjaro. From 3200m the montane forest paves way for moorland which extends beyond the heath.
The nights on this zone are cool while the days are sunny and the air thins. Giant groundsels and lobelia thrive on this zone. The moorland gives way Alpine desert at 4000m, this zone is characterized by minimal vegetation, the sand is loose and the weather is intense. Above 5000m there isn’t any vegetation and you can find are rocks and ice fields.
Mount Kilimanjaro is only 3 degrees south of the equator and is influenced by the passage of the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone. There are two rainy seasons. The long rains occurs from March to the end of May and the short rains occur from October to November, but can extend into December.
Apart from these factors, climbing Kilimanjaro remains fairly constant throughout the year. The maximum rainfall occurs in the forest belt, where it can reach up to 2000 mm per year. At the summit, which can be describe as a “high altitude desert”, the rainfall is less than 100 mm per year. Rain and snow at higher altitudes can however be encountered at any time of the year.
The average temperatures at the foot of the mountain are 25° – 30° C and on the summit, it can range from minus 10° – 20° C. At 3000m the day temperatures range from 5° – 15° C, and at night frost is normally encountered; clearly a large variation, making it more interesting to summit the mountain.
CLIMBING GEAR & EQUIPMENTS
- Walking trousers synthetic material is recommended.
- Long Underwear Tops – Light synthetic.
- Women’s sports bras Synthetic material.
Light fleece with a warm layer.
- Long sleeve polypropylene shirt.
- Medium weight polypropylene/thermal leggings.
- Wind – waterproof – breathable jacket.
- Gloves- light weight.
- Warm Hat or Balaclava Sun hat – wool or synthetic.
- Face mask or neck gaiter.
- Medium or large duffel bag to pack your town clothes with a lock, this can be left at the hotel or we can store them for you.
Medium duffel bag to pack your hiking stuff with a lock. [ The porter will carry this bag. ]
- A day pack to store your essentials with a capacity of about 25 to 35 liters is recommended.
- Walking/hiking shoes – comfortable and waterproof.
- Socks – Fitting socks one thick and one thin pair.
- Head lamp with extra batteries & bulbs.
- Adjustable trekking poles.
- Sleeping bag – Rated 3 – season.
- Gaiters – make sure they will fit over boots.
- Purification tablets or filters – water for drinking is fetched from mountain streams.
- Water bottle preferably one litre.
- Female or male hygiene supplies.
- Hand wipes and camp towel.
- Personal toiletry kit.
- Lip balm.
- Sun glasses.
- Camera & extra battries.
- Passport, flight ticket, travel insurance, visa, cash & credit card.
- Basecamp entertainment i.e books, board games, playing cards or ipod.
- Favorite Snacks, candy bars or protein bars.
Kindly don’t forget your patience, have an open mind, positive and relaxed attitude as things in this part of the world may be very different to what you are accustomed to but in the end the experience is price less and will always be memorable.