Mount Kilimanjaro Itineraries
6 Days Machame Route
Duration: 6 Days | Total hiking distance: About 100 km
This is probably the most beautiful route up Kilimanjaro. All your equipment and supplies are portered and a cook prepares all your meals. Where accommodation on the Marangu route is in huts, the Machame route offers strictly tents only. This makes Machame (also referred to as the “Whiskey route”) better suited to the slightly more adventurous hiker, rewarding him with a scenic splendor such as not seen on the Marangu route. From late afternoon sunsets at Shira, to the misty revelations of Kibo at the great Barranco Wall, the Machame route offers the adventurous hiker a stunning scenic “slide show” over 6 days. The Machame route is normally completed in a minimum of 6 days.
There is an added benefit to this Kilimanjaro climbing route, as you are afforded the most valuable commodity on the mountain – acclimatization. The Machame route takes you high to Lava Tower (4630m) on the day 3 and brings you down by nearly 700m for an overnight at Barranco camp (3950m). This is the secret to successful acclimatization.
6 day Itinerary for the Kilimanjaro Machame route
The Machame route can also be completed in 5 days. On day 3 on the itinerary below, you go directly to Kibo with an overnight at the Arrow Glacier camp, with your final summating attempt on day 4. An extremely physically and mentally demanding option, not recommended for the average climber.
Day 1: Machame Gate (1490m) – Machame camp (2980m
Hiking time: 7 hours | Distance: About 18 km’s | Habitat: Montane forest
Your day starts early with a briefing, followed by breakfast and a 45-minute drive from Moshi (910m) to the Machame village (1490m). The guides and porters prepare and pack the supplies and your equipment in the village. You will receive a lunch pack and you can also buy mineral water in the village. Depending on the condition of the road, it is possible to drive from the village to the Machame gate, but if not, the muddy 3 km walk will take about 1 hour to complete. After registering at the gate office, you start your ascent and enter the rain forest almost immediately. There is a strong possibility of rain in the forest, which will transform the trail into a very soggy, muddy and slippery experience. You will have a welcome lunch stop about half way and will reach the Machame camping area in the late afternoon.
Your porters (arriving at the camp site long before you) will have erected your tent on your arrival. In the evening the porters will boil drinking and washing water and the cook will prepare dinner, before you retire to your tent for the night. Night temperatures can already drop to freezing point at this campsite.
6 Days Marangu Route
Total hiking distance: About 96 km’s
(Excluding any acclimatisation hikes on day 3)
Affectionately known as the “Coca-Cola route”, Marangu is by far the most popular route to the summit of Kilimanjaro. This could partly be as a result of the fact that the Marangu is the least expensive route, but more so, perhaps the fact that it is possible to do the Marangu route in 5 days, thereby getting to the summit one day earlier than on the Kilimanjaro Machame route. This is not always the best way due to a shorter acclimatisation period. The Kilimanjaro Marangu route does however offer you the option of spending an extra acclimatisation day on the mountain. This extends the route to a 6-day march, greatly increasing your chances of success. Hut accommodation on the Marangu route forms one of the main differences, compared to the other routes. It offers you the relative luxury of being able to sleep in huts along the entire route. Mineral water, soft drinks, chocolates and beers are also sold at all the camps on this route. All your equipment and supplies are portered and a cook prepares all your meals.
6 day – Itinerary for the Kilimanjaro Marangu route
For the 5-day route, simply exclude the additional acclimatisation day at Horombo hut – day 3 on the itinerary below.
Day 1: Marangu Gate (1980m) – Mandara hut (2700m)
Hiking time: 5 hours | Distance: About 12 km’s | Habitat: Montane forest
The drive from Moshi to the Kilimanjaro National Park gate, takes about 50 minutes. The journey passes through the village of Marangu, which is located on the lower slopes of the mountain. Once you reach the park gate, all hikers are requested to sign in at the Park office and make their final preparations for the climb. Porters will be seen arranging and loading their packs, containing the food, water, cooking gas as well as most of your equipment. Make sure that you have all your daypack items (containing at least drinking water, your lunch pack and extra clothing) with you as the porters ascend a lot quicker than the hikers. Our guides will be available to assist with any additional information or needs you might have. You now leave the Park gate and ascend on a cleared ridge trail through the rain forest. The forest, suffused with mist and dripping with beards of moss, is also where most of Kilimanjaro’s animals are found. (An alternative and more scenic parallel forest trail, branches off to the left a few minutes after the gate. This trail follows the edge of a stream through the undergrowth and offers you the option to rejoin the main trail either, after 1½ hours hiking, or 1 hour before Mandara hut.)
Your first night stop, Mandara hut, is a group of wooden A-framed huts in a forest clearing. Each hut features 6-8 sleeping bunks with solar generated lighting. The total capacity of the camp is 60 climbers. Water is piped into the camp from springs above and there are flush toilets behind the main hut.
Day 2: Mandara hut (2700m) – Horombo hut (3720m)
Hiking time: 6 hours | Distance: About 15 km’s | Habitat: Moorland
From Mandara hut the trail passes through a short stretch of forest, then skirts the base of the Maundi Crater and then emerges into the transition from rain forest to moorland. It is well worth a short detour to scramble up the rim of the Maundi Crater for your first really impressive view of the Kibo Crater. On a clear day, Kibo will glimmer in the distance, showing off her majestic glaciers in the morning sun. Once you are in the open moorland you will get the chance to see some of Kilimanjaro’s most spectacular plants – the endemic giant lobelia which grows up to 3 m in height and the giant groundsel (Senecia Kilimanjari), which can reach heights of 5m! After about 6 hours from here you reach the Horombo hut, where you will have hot washing water, rest; an evening meal and overnight.
Day 3: Horombo hut (3720m) – Acclimatisation day
Horombo hut is a village of huts perched on a small plateau, with buildings similar to Mandara, but with a total capacity of 120 climbers! Normally bustling with hikers, guides, porters and with an atmosphere of adventure and excitement. You will meet both ascending and descending hikers here. This extra day and night at Horombo is for additional acclimatisation. A hike towards the Mawenzi hut, passing the Zebra Rocks on the way (about 3 hours up and 1.5 hours down), is strongly recommended. This hike will further assist with the process of acclimatisation. Remember to drink enough water and move slowly! All meals for the day are provided at the hut. Retire to bed early and get a last good night’s rest.
Day 4: Horombo hut (3720m) – Kibo hut (4700m)
Hiking time: 6 hours | Distance: About 15 km’s | Habitat: Alpine desert
After breakfast you now continue your ascent into the Alpine desert habitat. From Horombo there are two trails to the “Saddle” (which refers to the area located between the peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo). There is an upper route (right hand fork) and lower route (left hand fork) to choose from. The upper route (right hand fork) will be very familiar, as you will have climbed most of it the previous day towards Mawenzi hut. It is very stony and eroded.
The recommended lower route (left hand fork) is much easier and nearly an hour and it also passes the last watering point at 4130m. You will have to fill your water bottles with all the water you will need until your return to Horombo hut in two night’s time (unless you are willing to buy Mineral water at Kibo hut). Once again remember to slow down and drink enough water!! Situated in the barren Alpine desert is Horombo hut, a stone build block house which has bunk beds for 60 climbers, but no streams with water nearby. It is however possible to buy mineral water and soft drinks at the camp office.
There are platform toilets behind the hut. The summit is now a further 1195m up and you will make your final ascent the same night. Prepare your equipment, ski-stick and thermal clothing for your summit bid. This should include the replacement of your headlamp and camera batteries and make sure you have a spare set available as well. To prevent freezing it will be wise to carry your water in a thermal flask. Go to bed at round about 19h00 and try to get as much rest and sleep as possible.
Day 5: SUMMIT ATTEMPT, Kibo hut (4700m) – Uhuru Peak (5895m) – Horombo hut (3720m)
Hiking time: 8 hours to Uhuru – 6 hours to descend to Horombo | Distance: 6 km’s ascent – 21 km’s descent | Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit
You will rise around 23h30, and after some tea and biscuits you shuffle off into the night, and this is where the going really gets tough. The first section of the trail consists of a rocky path to the Hans Meyer Cave (5150m), also a good resting spot. The path then zigzags up to Gillman’s point (5 681m), which is located on the crater rim. This section is very steep with a lot of stone scree, requiring a great physical and mental effort. Probably the most demanding section of the entire route. Do the Kili shuffle and move slowly.
From Gillman’s Point you will normally encounter snow all the way up to Uhuru peak (5895m), the highest point in Africa. Total exhilaration and satisfaction – you made it. Weather conditions on the summit will determine how long you will be able to spend, taking photographs, before the 3 hour descent back to Kibo hut. After a short rest you gather all your gear you left behind for the ascent and head down to Horombo hut (3 hours) for your overnight. The return to Horombo hut will seem surprisingly fast compared to the ascent. The total time spent walking on this day is around 14 hours, so be prepared for a very tough day.
Later in the evening you enjoy your last dinner (with soft drinks and beer for sale at the camp office) on the mountain and a well-earned sleep, filled with memories and stirring emotions.
Day 6: Horombo hut (3720m) – Marangu Gate (1980m)
Hiking time: 6 hours | Distance: About 27 km’s