The Machame is a wilderness route which combines spectacular views and scenery, good acclimatization and which is quieter than the Marangu (tourist) route. For all these reasons it is perhaps the best of the standard routes on the mountain, and the one recommended for those wanting an uncomplicated but rewarding trek on Kili.
Day 1: Machame Gate to Machama Camp
Drive to Machame Gate and then start the 6 hour walk to Machame Camp at 9840 feet. You will be walking through the rainforest, and the track can be very muddy, so good boots and gaiters are recommended. Machame Hut is on the edge of the forest and at the beginning of the moorland. There are good views of the mountain from here. The water supply is down a steep valley side.
Day 2: Machame Camp to Shira Camp
It is a 6 to 8 hour walk to Shira Camp at 12,500 feet, situated on the Shira plateau. The walk starts with quite steep inclines, and you soon get some of the best approach views of Kibo. You should also be able to see Mount Meru, about 50 km to the south, above the clouds. Once you reach the Shira plateau it is noticeably colder and you will need to have a fleece jacket or sweater with you. About now you will also start to feel the effects of altitude, so drink and walk slowly.
Day 3: Shira Camp to Barranco Camp
Another day without much height gain, but many ups and downs, to Barranco Camp at 12,800 feet. The day’s walk is effectively a west to east traverse with a height gain at the end of the day of only 300 feet. However during the day’s walk you will ascend to almost 15,000 feet and then drop back down at Barranco camp. You should allow about 7 hours for the walk and enjoy the incredible views of Kibo ahead of you and down the valleys to the plateau and rainforest below. You should fill your water bottle at the stream about halfway through the day’s walk. The camping spot at Barranco is perhaps the most spectacular on the Machame route.
Day 4: Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp
It will take about 7 hours to get to the Barafu Camp at 15,100 feet. Allow about 7 hours and make a point of leaving very early in order to reach Barafu in good time for an early supper and sleep. This is the first morning that an early start is recommended since it seems wise on the previous days to sleep as much as you can in order to build up your reserves. The first part of this day’s climb is spectacular. You start the day with a climb of what appears to be an incredibly steep face. However the guides and porters carrying the gear ahead of you will show you that it is in fact a good path. At the top of the steep section there are marvelous views of Meru to the south lit up by the early morning sun. From here on you continue to cross the typical valleys and ridges that radiate from the summit downwards.
Day 5: Barafu Camp to Summit to Mweka Camp
You start in the very early hours with the 7 hour walk to Stella Point on the rim of the crater. You must remember to go as slowly as you can. There will be enough guides for your party to divide into slow and very slow groups. It is crazy to rush, and speed could cause your climb to end in disaster. Drink a lot as you walk and take high energy snacks. You will begin to see a change in the light at about 5.00am and from then on the top will become discernible. At Stella Point you have climbed Kilimanjaro and you will receive a certificate after the climb. If you are feeling good, you can continue to the highest point, Uhuru, but it is further than it looks. Your guide has been instructed to forbid any climber who has been sick from continuing. Remember that this is the point of maximum risk to your health and that you must be prepared to take advice from your guide and colleagues and be reasonable if they feel you should descend. The rewards on the top are superb views of the summit glaciers and ice walls and, of course, standing on the highest point in Africa – 19,340 feet.
Day 6: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate to Moshi
The home run! The steep descent continues through the forest following a broad ridge. This path can be slippery so trekking poles are useful here. The path improves and after about four hours you reach Mweka gate. Your vehicle will be waiting for you and you’ll soon be in the bath with a drink and the prospect of a normal meal