The Machame (Whiskey) Route is the most popular camping route on Kilimanjaro. It's a rugged combination of routes which begins through the rainforest at Machame Village on the southwest side of the mountain, and over six days, rises onto the edge of the Shira Plateau, down into the beautiful Great Barranco Valley, then circumvents the Kibo massif counter-clockwise through alpine desert until reaching Barafu Camp. From here, the trek to the summit is done overnight to the crater rim on the steep scree slopes of the east-south-east facing Mweka Route. The trek winds through some beautiful scenery, which changes quite dramatically every day. The route done in six days is physically challenging for most people. The last two days (the trek from Barranco to Barafu and then the overnight trek to the summit) require mental and physical toughness, due to the high altitude and short amount of time to rest before the overnight summit attempt. There are no huts on this route; the accommodation is in mountain tents and dining is in our dining tents. Toilet tents with convenient and sanitary portable flush toilets are set up at all camps.
Itinerary (6 days / 5 nights on Kili):
Briefing Your guides will meet you at your hotel in Arusha or Moshi for a detailed briefing of the climb. Accommodation: hotel in Arusha or Moshi (D)
Transfer to gate - hike to Machame camp (2850 m) Departure from Arusha will be at around 7:30 am for Machame gate (ca. 4 hrs transfer), where you will complete the entry formalities and have lunch. You start trekking through dense mountain rain forest to Machame camp, located just above the forest zone, in the heather zone, with views of the summit. 5-7 hrs trekking.
Accommodation: Machame camp (B, L, D)
Machame - Shira camp (3810 m) Trek up a steep path leading into the more arid moorland, passing tall grass, rocks and bearded heather. Continue through an eery landscape of lava rocks, caves and foamy streams framed by exotic plants until you reach the Shira plateau, where camp is set. 5-6 hrs trekking.
Accommodation: Shira 2 camp (B, L, D)
Shira 2 - Lava Tower - Barranco camp (3976 m) You proceed steadily upwards over vast rigdes to "Lava Tower" for lunch (ca. 4 hrs). Lava Tower, a 300 ft volcanic plug, marks an exposed pass at 15,000 ft. In the afternoon, you descend the steep trail into the Great Barranco Valley. Barranco Camp is set in a valley enclosed on 3 sides with the massive walls of the valley itself and the massif of Kibo. Hanging glaciers glint in the sunshine above,- an eerie landscape known for its rare plants such as the Giant Groundsels (Seneciao Kilimanjari) and the uniquely endemic Giant Lobelia. Total trekking time: 6-7 hrs.
Accommodation: Barranco camp (B, L, D)
Barranco camp - Barafu camp (4673 m) If you opt for the 6-day itinerary, we trek 3-4 hours and stop in the Karanga Valley for a hot lunch. Then, in the afternoon, the trail turns steadily uphill. The temperature will grow colder and the landscape more sparse as we approach Barafu Camp. Barafu Camp is set on a small, explosed flat area on a ridge and is the usual base camp from which you will make the summit attempt at midnight tonight. It's essential to eat and especially drink as much as possible before retiring to your tent for rest and sleep.
Accommodation: Barafu camp (B, L, D)
Barafu camp - summit - descend to Mweka camp (3068 m) A hot drink will arrive very early this morning. A midmight wake-up call will be the start of a juggernaut (12-17 hrs of trekking). At around 1 am, you start trekking; temperatures usually range from just below freezing at midnight to seomwhere between -12 deg. C (10 deg. F) to -23 deg. C (-10 F.) on the summit just before dawn. The winding path of endless switchbacks will slowly take form and shape in the shadows of the Ratzel and Rebman glaciers at early dawn, and behind you the spires of Mawenzi are silouhetted against the red glow of the sun rising behind the clouds. After about 6 hrs of slowly walking uphill, you arrive at the edge of the crater: Stella Point, at 19,000 ft (5790 m) on the crater rim, is the end of the steep part of the hike. From here, it's a gentle slope to Uhuru Peak (ca. 1 hr), the true summit of Kili at 19,340 ft (5896 m). The strength it takes to ascend this final piece is for many monumental. After a short time at the summit, we start descending. The path goes down a steep scree slope back to Barafu Camp for some rest, before you have to summon your strength again to descend further to Mweka Camp for the last night on the mountain.
Accommodation: Mweka camp (B, L, D)
Final descend - Transfer to Arusha It's an easy 2-3 hours trek through rain forest to go down the final parts of the trail back to the Mweka Gate. After receiving your certificates, lunch and saying goodby to many of your crew, we'll bring you to the KIA lodge, where you can use day rooms for a shower, change cloths etc. In the afternoon, return to Arusha (or Moshi).
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