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Machame Route - Kilimanjaro

The Machame Route, the most popular route on Mount Kilimanjaro was built for climbing. Located in Tanzania, this trail commands respect thanks to its steepness and scenic beauty – inexperienced climbers need not apply! If you have more experience backpacking than serious trekking, consider opting for Kilimanjaro's more classic trail: the Marangu Route

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How difficult is the Machame route?

The Machame route, commonly referred to by many as the Whiskey route, is the most popular route on Kilimanjaro. The major drawcard is its scenic beauty – but that doesn’t mean it's an easy trek to embark on. 

The trail itself is considered to be difficult and steep, which is mostly attributed to its shorter itinerary length. If you classify yourself as a more ‘experienced’ hiker; meaning you have some experience with higher altitudes and enjoy long, steep walks, then this might be the right trail for you. 

Previous trekking experience is highly recommended, as the days will feature 6-8 hours hiking with daily ascents of 900m to 1,000m, perhaps with the odd day ascending around 1,100m to 1,200m. Depending on the route, you may be trekking at an altitude of over 3,500m.

You need complete confidence in your ability to trek for many days over difficult terrain. Extremes of altitude and weather may be encountered, as may the use of ice axes and crampons. A degree of physical and mental stamina will be essential to complete the hike as the days will be tiring. 
 

  • Difficulty rating: Challenging
     
  • Height: The Machame route reaches the summit of Kilimanjaro at the Uhuru peak, reaching a height of 5,895 metres (19,341 feet)
     
  • Trail conditions: During your journey to the summit, you will travel through dense vegetation, rocky zones, and loose gravel trails in some parts. The route is incredibly scenic and provides hikers with panoramic views and varying landscapes
     
  • Climbing requirements: There are no technical climbing requirements on this route

​​​​​​​What is the success rate of the Machame route?

The Machame route has a fairly good success rate, thanks to many ups and downs allowing better acclimatisation. To ensure a higher success rate it is best to take your time. The 7-day itinerary has an average summit success rate of 85%. For the 6-day itinerary success rate drops to 75% on average.

Route tips

  • Be sure to wear your hiking boots before your adventure to Kilimanjaro to avoid blisters. 
  • Stay hydrated and carry a reusable water bottle to reduce the impact of altitude sickness.
  • Before your trek, try to embark on a few practice camping trips to get familiar with your surroundings. 
  • Make a packing list and triple check you have everything you need before you go.
  • Don’t forget to stop and take it the view along the way to the summit. After all, the journey is the best part. 

Facts about Kilimanjaro

Oldest person to ever summit
87 year-old Frenchman Valtee Daniel
Youngest person to ever summit
7 year-old Keats Boyd
Name and height of summit
Uhuru Peak is 5,895 m or 19,341 feet high
Amount of climbers annually
Approximately 25,000 people attempt to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro annually
Average tour price
2,200€

Typical 7-day Machame route itinerary

  1. Duration: The journey to the Uhuru peak via the Machame route can take anywhere between 6-7 days to complete. Travellers looking to shorten the journey can skip the night spent in the Karanga Valley. Barafu Camp is also part of the itinerary
  2. Location: The Machame route starts in the southern region of Mount Kilimanjaro, and can be accessed via a 45-minute drive from Moshi to the Machame Gate, where the trek starts.

Travelling from the south of Mount Kilimanjaro, the journey will see you wandering past impressive, verdant forests on the way to the Shira Plateau. Then, hikers will find themselves surrounded by the Southern Ice Field before eventually reaching the summit.

The journey will involve many ups and downs along the trail, but on the plus side, this allows for much greater acclimatisation which can mean a higher success rate in reaching the summit. Finally, the descent is made via the Mweka route.

Day-by-day breakdown of Machame route

Below you will find a detailed breakdown of what, where and how long you'll be trekking should you opt to select the popular 7-day itinerary for the "Whiskey" route along Mount Kilimanjaro. 

DAYSTARTALTITUDE (M/FT)FINISHALTITUDE (M/FT)TIME (HRS)DISTANCE (KM/MI)
1Machame Gate1,640m/ 5,380ftMachame Camp2,850m/ 9,350ft5-711km/ 7mi
2Machame Camp2,850m/ 9,350ftShira 2 Camp3,810m/ 12,500ft4-65km/ 3mi
3Shira 2 Camp3,810m/ 12,500ftLava Tower4,630m/ 15,190ft4-57km/ 4mi
Lava Tower4,630m/ 15,190ftBarranco Camp3,976m/ 13,044ft2-33km/ 2mi
4Barranco Camp3,976m/ 13,044ftKaranga Camp3,995m/ 13,106ft4-55km/ 3mi
5Karanga Camp3,995m/ 13,106ftBarafu Camp4,673m/ 15,331ft4-54km/ 2mi
6Barafu Camp4,673m/ 15,331ftUhuru Peak5,895m/ 19,341ft7-85km/ 3mi
Uhuru Peak5,895m/ 19,341ftMweka Camp3,068m/ 10,065ft4-612km/ 7mi
7Mweka Camp3,068m/ 10,065ftMweka Gate1,640m/ 5,380ft3-410km/ 6mi

Frequently asked questions: how to climb the Machame route

  • How do I prepare for the Machame route?

    Any physical activity you can do beforehand will help make your ascent more enjoyable. As for how hard you train, this will depend on whether you're aiming for the Uhuru Peak or embarking on a shorter journey and will be different for everyone. 
    Learn more.
  • When should I climb the Machame route?

    You can climb the Machame route year-round, but it may be wet and cold which means you should be equipped with the right waterproof gear. Consider climbing between January–March and June–October. Note that April, May and November are the wettest months. 
    Learn more.
  • What should I pack and what equipment do I need?

    While trekking tour operators may supply some of the gear you’ll need, there are a few non-negotiables you will need that includes waterproof clothing, a headlamp, sunglasses, appropriate hiking boots, personal medication, a non-disposable water bottle and a cap or a beanie for example. Learn more.
  • How to get to the Machame route?

    Before you start your hiking escapade to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, you will need to establish how to get there, and the best mode of transport to suit your itinerary or tour. Travellers flying from the UK, the US, Australia or Canada and other parts of the world have a few options to explore. Learn more.
  • What are the climbing requirements for the Machame route?

    Mount Kilimanjaro welcomes hikers of all levels of fitness and ability, but if you’re planning to reach the summit, careful planning and vigorous training is vital. Consider adding extra time to your itinerary to avoid altitude sickness and to enjoy your time climbing Kilimanjaro. Learn more.
  • What permits do I need?

    Each visitor will be required to pay a fee per person, per day for the conservation fee to help manage the national park, however, most tours will cover the permits and entry fees are included in the price. 
    Learn more.

Mount Kilimanjaro routes & maps

  • Marangu Route

    If you’re searching for the most ‘iconic’ trek, the Marangu route is the oldest marked trail. The gradual slope appeals to many travellers as it's considered the easiest route, and is the only Kilimanjaro route that offers hut accommodation. It’s recommended to allow for one extra night to acclimatise. 

    Distance: 72 km
    Average duration: 5-6 days 
    Average difficulty: Marangu route has one of the lowest summit success rates of all the routes up the mountain. Although it is known as the easiest trekking route, the summit success rate is sometimes as low as 50% when travellers undertake a shorter hike. 

     

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  • Lemosho Route

    Starting in a similar direction to the Shira route, climbers are likely to encounter lower traffic on the trails until the route meets with the Machame route. Lemosho is known as one of the most beautiful routes as it includes hiking through the rainforest, past the Shira Plateau and through vast icefields.

    Distance: 70 km
    Average duration: 7-8 days
    Average difficulty: The success rates are high, and the longer you take to complete the journey often shows a higher success rate. An 8-day hike usually offers around a 90% success rate while a 7-day hike will be around 85%. For a 6-day hike, the success rate will be much lower at approximately 65%.

     

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  • Rongai Route

    Starting from the northern side of Kilimanjaro, Rongai is the only route that travels from this direction and is often less crowded than Marangu. Rongai is considered a moderately difficult route recommended for less experienced hikers. 

    Distance: 73 km
    Average duration: 6-7 days 
    Average difficulty: This route is considered difficult as it does not offer the same climb height. The longer you take to complete this trail, the higher the success rate will be. A 7-day hike often sees an 80% success rate, and a 6-day hike is much lower at 65%.

     

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  • Shira Plateau Route

    Boasting similar qualities to the Lemosho route, the Shira route also approaches Kilimanjaro from the west. Hikers should take note of the steep elevation on this route, as day one catapults you to some serious altitude. 

    Distance: 56 km
    Average duration: 7-8 days 
    Average difficulty: Shira has an excellent success rate. However, it should only be tackled by more experienced climbers or those who are comfortable with their ability to acclimatise as the first day is incredibly steep.

     

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  • Umbwe Route

    One of the most difficult, and most demanding routes on Kilimanjaro, Umbwe also happens to be the most spectacular. This short and steep route is only recommended for experienced climbers who are confident in their ability to adapt to the altitude. 

    Distance: 53 km
    Average duration: 5-6 days 
    Average difficulty/success rate: As the most difficult and demanding trek on Mount Kilimanjaro, Umbwe has a much lower success rate than the other trails. This route should only be attempted if you are an experienced or confident hiker. 

     

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  • Northern Circuit Route

    The Northern Circuit route follows the Lemosho trail at the start before travelling along the northern slopes where trekkers can enjoy more space on the trails. 

    Distance: 98 km
    Average duration: 8-9 days 
    Average difficulty: Because of its length, the Northern Circuit is one of the most successful routes for reaching the summit and sees a success rate of almost 95%.

     

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Machame route tours & reviews

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