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Machame Route - Kilimanjaro

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Machame route difficulty

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.

Machame route 7-day 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. 
  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.

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

Machame route success rate

The Machame route has a fairly good success rate, thanks to many ups and downs allowing better acclimatisation. To ensure higher success rate for the Machame route, 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.

Machame 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. 

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.

Kilimanjaro routes

  1. Machame Route. Distance: 62 km, average duration: 6-7 days, success rate: 75%-85%
  2. Marangu RouteDistance: 72 km, average duration: 5-6 days, success rate: 50% 
  3. Lemosho Route. Distance: 70 km, average duration: 7-8 days, success rate: 65%-90%
  4. Rongai Route. Distance: 73 km, average duration: 6-7 days, success rate: 65%-80%
  5. Shira Plateau Route. Distance: 56 km, average duration: 7-8 days
  6. Umbwe Route. Distance: 53 km, average duration: 5-6 days, success rate: 60%-70% 
  7. Northern Circuit Route. Distance: 98 km, average duration: 8-9 days, success rate: 95% 

Machame route tours & reviews

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