In 1889 Hans Meyer, a German geology professor returned to Kilimanjaro for his third summit attempt with the celebrated Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller. They took two local headmen, nine porters, a cook, and a guide. They set many camps and took ample food to set themselves up for success. Their first attempt was thwarted due to exhaustion from cutting many icy steps. Their next try they reached the highest summit on Purtscheller’s 40th birthday, October 6, 1889. At that time the crater of Kibo was filled with ice. Twelve days later they went back up to enter and study the crater spending 16 days above 4200 m. The peak was not climbed again for another 20 years.
Among the seven trekking routes, Machame is considered the most scenic though steeper routes. Kilimanjaro is one of the most accessible high mountain peaks and does not require technical equipment. This climb is not as technically challenging as many of the other seven summits, though it is not to be underestimated. The high elevation, low temperature, and occasional high winds make this a difficult and dangerous trek. Acclimatization is essential, and even the most experienced trekkers suffer some degree of acute mountain sickness. It is important to be in good physical condition, stay hydrated, and be prepared.
The summit is rewarding but not the only reward of this trip. You will travel from the lush jungle forest down low where there are elephants, leopard, and buffalo. Then into the moorland zone with large labellia and heather. And up into high desert and onto alpine snowy conditions on top. It is a magical ascent through a variety of ecosystems and climates to a breathtaking beauty on the roof of this continent.
Some of the advantages of the Machame Route over some of the other routes are that on day 3 you ascend from 3847m (12,900ft) to only 3984m (13,300ft), after climbing to 4642m (15,200ft) at the base of a volcanic rocky outcrop known as the Lava Tower. The 600m (200ft) height differential ensures that Machame exploits the ‘climb high, sleep low’ principle to maximum effect. On summit day the climb is via a ridge rather than a loose scree slope and is therefore considerably less difficult than the other routes. These two points alone make the Machame Route boast one of the best summit success rates of all the routes.
Day 1-3: Travel and Preparation
Two days of flight time and one day of preparation and gear check will bring us to day 4 where we begin our climb. We will cover 39 mi. (64km) in 7 days gaining just over 16,000ft (4890m).
Day 4: Machame Camp (9900’/3300M)
Pick up at the hotel and transfer to the Machame trailhead 5800′ (1830m). We will hike 6-7 hr. through a beautiful lush forest covering 6 mi. (10km) to the Machame Camp at 9900′ (3000m).
Day 5: Shira Plateau (12,300’/3800M)
We will enter alpine vegetation crossing from the heath forest to the moor zone of giant heather. We will get our first views of the snow-capped summit of Mt. Meru dancing in the clouds. On the journey, we will meet a river gorge where we head up a steep trail to the Shira Plateau (12,300′). The hiking distance is 5mi/8km over 5-6hr time.
Day 6: Barranco Camp (12,900’/3900M)
Our climb takes us to 14,800′ ascending up an over a ridge to the Lava Tower. This is great for acclimatization when we climb higher and sleep lower. We are blessed with great views of the plains below and the glacier ice of the Breach Wall, known as the “Icycle”. Reinhold Messner was the first to climb this in the ’70s. We then descend to the campsite at Great Barranco where we are sheltered by the towering cliffs and we can admire the views south over the Moshi. We will cover 6 mi./10km over 7-9 hrs of hiking.
Day 7: Karanga Valley (13,300’/4055M)
We move up the mountain with a plan to acclimatize well. Today we have a steep climb up the Barranco Wall. This takes up to a trail on the flank of Kibo with great views of the Southern Icefields. We top out around 14,500′ and then descend to the Karanga camp at 13,300′. This is the last water available on the approach to the summit. We will cover 3mi/5km in about 4-5hr. today.
Day 8:Barafu Hut (14,800’/4500M)
We will ascend 1500′ on an easy compact scree trail through this high desert plateau to the Barafu Hut. We will enjoy views of the Mowenzi Peak towering ahead. We will then rest, hydrate, and get fueled up for an early morning summit attempt. The hike is 3-5 hr.
Day 9: Barafu Hut, Kilmanjaro Summit (19,340’/5896M), Mweka Camp (10,200’/3100M)
We will arise early for an alpine start to the summit of Kilimanjaro’s Uhuru Peak. We ascend in the dark greeted by a gorgeous sunrise over the African plains as we reach the crater rim. We will celebrate on the summit and then return to our high camp and continue our descent down the southern side of the mountain to the Mweka camp in the lush forest. Summit day is exhilarating and challenging with approximately 4200ft/1300m elevation gain and 9700’/2800m of descent. It takes around 8-10hr to reach the summit and we will cover 4mi/7km. From high camp to Mweka camp is another 6-8hr with a distance of 8mi/13km.
Day 10: Descend and transfer to Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge
We will descend 5,900’/1800m over 4-5 hr and 4 mi./ 6.5 km to the Mweka Gate where we will have a celebration before transferring to the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge where we will overnight.
- Pick up at Kilimanjaro Airport and transfer to your hotel in Machame Village
- A night’s accommodation both before and after your climb
- All climbing costs, including salaries, food, fees, etc (please note that this does not include tips for the crew or guides)
- All transfers to the mountain and back to your hotel.
- 7 days on the mountain including 3 meals/day, porters, cooks, and guide
- 3 da Safari if purchased
- Transfers back to Kilimanjaro Airport for your return flights
- ITCOG guide with 18 years plus experience including Wilderness First Responder Medical training.
- Accommodation includes bed and breakfast in standard range hotels
- Flight and overland transfers from anywhere other than Kilimanjaro International Airport.
- Visas, which can be obtained upon arrival and costs $50
- Tips for your mountain staff
- Additional nights beyond the standard two hotel nights included
- Hotel upgrade costs if you request an alternative hotel outside of the standard hotels
- Items considered to be non-essential, such as soft drink, snacks, etc.
- Trip Insurance
- International Travel fees