There are several routes to climb Kilimanjaro, so how do you decide which route to take? You want to make the summit so based on your experience level, which one would be the best route for you?
Below are the group climb routes we offer. In this article, we will focus on the 7-Day Machame route group climb.
7-Day Machame Route
The Machame Route also known as the “Whiskey” route, begins at the Machame Gate, located on the southern side of the mountain.
From the gate, you ascend through Kilimanjaro’s lush rainforest to the Shira Plateau. Once there, you will traverse the mountain beneath Kilimanjaro’s Southern Icefield.
Your summit approach will be from Barafu Hut.
It is the most popular route on Kilimanjaro.
The group climb itinerary has both an arrival and departure day. That means that the first day listed on the group climb is the arrival day. You’ll start hiking the next day. On the arrival day, you’ll have the trip briefing at the hotel in Arusha.
At the trip briefing, we will make sure you have all the right gear for the mountain. We will also give a health check to get your baseline stats. Additionally, we will confirm you have the appropriate mandatory medical coverage and travel insurance.
Kilimanjaro Day 1
The day will begin after breakfast. You’ll be driven to the Kilimanjaro National Park entrance at the Machame Park Gate (5,400 ft). Here the guides will register with the Park Service.
As you grab your gear, the porters and guides will weigh all the equipment. The trail starts climbing immediately through the lush rainforest.
The forest shelters a variety of wildlife, including the blue monkey. Despite its name, the blue monkey is not noticeably blue, it is mainly olive or grey apart from the face. Typical sizes range from 19 to 26 inches in length. The tail is that long as well. The forest begins to thin out at the edge of the Moorland zone. The trees begin to open up which gives you expansive views of the plains far below.
Finally, you’ll arrive at Machame Camp (9,800 ft) and camp for the night. The hike usually takes about 5-6 hours, is approximately 6.7 miles, and gains 4,400 ft.
Kilimanjaro Day 2
The morning begins with breakfast and a short hike up a steady ascent to the Shira Plateau (11,300 ft). You’ll leave the rainforest behind as you enter the Moorland zone. From this vantage point, you’ll have amazing views of Kibo. You’ll stop for lunch here. The afternoon trek continues along the Shira Plateau to Shira I camp (12,600 ft). The day’s hike usually takes about 4-5 hours, covers 3.3 miles, and ascends 2,800 ft.
Kilimanjaro Day 3
Day three begins with a gentle ascent along a distinct trail surrounded by panoramic views. The trail ascends above the Moorland zone and continues through the lava ridges beneath the glaciers above. You’ll stop for lunch at Lava Tower at 15,150 feet.
If you watch closely, you may even see a rock slide along the treacherous Western Breach route.
From here you’ll descend into the Barranco Valley to your camp at Barranco Camp. On your left, you’ll see the intimidating Barranco Wall that you’ll ascend the following morning.
The camp is at 12,800 feet.
This camp is busier since you have now joined the trekkers on the Lemosho route. The camp is spectacular with its towering cliffs and extensive views of the plains far below.
The day’s hike takes about 5-7 hours, covers 6.3 miles, and only ascends about 200 feet total since the camp is lower than Lava Tower.
Kilimanjaro Day 4
The morning starts with a very steep 800-foot climb up the Barranco Wall. It can be slow going with the crowds. It is not as scary as it looks from below. Just follow the guide’s lead and you’ll reach the top in about an hour.
Once at the top you’ll take a break and get some stunning shots of the valley below. From here, the terrain changes to scree with pockets of lush vegetation sheltered in the rocks.
The remaining hike is short with a few steep sections and ends at Karanga Camp at 13,100 feet. This camp is also the last water point before the summit.
The hike takes about 4-6 hours covers only 3.2 miles and ends up only gaining 300 feet.
Kilimanjaro Day 5
From Karanga Camp, there is a short hike to the camp at Barafu at 14,800 feet.
At camp, you’ll eat lunch. You’ll spend the rest of the day either doing an acclimatization hike to the plateau southeast of camp or resting to prepare for the early morning summit attempt.
The hike covers 3.4 miles, takes about 3-5 hours, and gains 1,700 feet.
Kilimanjaro Day 6
Today’s hike actually starts the day before at 11 PM. Your guide will wake you. Dress quickly, eat breakfast, grab your gear, and begin the ascent by headlamp.
You’ll plod along slowly in the dark, ascending quickly up the switchbacked trail. Your goal is to so reach the crater rim by sunrise. You’ll rest there. It’s called Stella Point at 18,800 feet.
The hike takes about six hours from camp. While you rest, enjoy the view of the sun rising above the Mawenzi peak and the crater floor below.
Those in the group who are still feeling strong can continue the two-hour round trip to the summit. You’ll hike along the crater rim to Uhuru Peak at 19,341 feet.
The trail passing close to spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area.
Once at the summit you’ll rest and wait your turn to take photos at the summit sign.
Once you are done at the sign, the descent to Barafu will go surprisingly fas. After a snack and possibly a nap, you’ll continue descending to the final campsite, Mweka Camp. It’s located at 10,000 feet.
The total travel time with be 11-15 hours and cover 10.4 miles. You will gain 4,155 feet and descend 9,300 feet. This is where trekking poles will come in handy.
Kilimanjaro Day 7
Your final day on Kilimanjaro descends on a well maintained trail. It meanders through the lovely tropical forest alive with the sound of birds. The rainforest here is much prettier than the first day. Your journey concludes at the Mweka Gate at 5,400 feet.
Once the guide signs you out of the park, you’ll continue down through coffee and banana farms to Mweka village. Here you’ll celebrate your accomplishment, have the tipping ceremony, and receive your Kilimanjaro certificate. Afterward, you’ll be transferred back to your lodge in Arusha.
The trail takes about 4-6 hours. It is 7.6 miles and drops 7,100 feet.
The Machame Route is definitely a great route. After all, it is the most popular. The first two days are steeper than the Lemosho route, and it has one less day to adjust to the extreme elevation gain. However, it is a good route if you are in good hiking shape, acclimate well, and want to make the summit in one less day.