Kilimanjaro Machame Route

Karanga Camp Mou

Karanga Camp Mount Kilimanjaro climb

Kilimanjaro – Machame Route via Barafu Camp

Route Description

The Kilimanjaro Machame Route is without question the steepest approach route on Kilimanjaro, and for that reason, seldom used. Stemming from Umbwe village on the south side of the mountain, the Kilimanjaro Machame path leads through thick forest onto a steeply climbing ridge, with alpine terrain and a mix of hiking and scrambling. It is only suitable for those in excellent physical condition, and only for experienced hikers.  Due to the steep and rugged terrain, fitness and endurance play a huge role in the enjoyment and success of this trek. There are no huts on this route; the accommodation is in mountain tents and dining is in our mess tents.

 Daily itinerary

DAY 1  – UMBWE GATE ~ UMBWE FOREST CAMP (9,500 ft./ 2,900 m.)

The climb commences at the small gate above Umbwe Village, then for an hour winds along a gentle 4×4 track until a signboard announces the small steeply rising trail called “Umbwe”. Six hours ascending through the dense forest of rubber trees and giant fig trees, scrambling up steep sections of roots and rock will bring you to a forested campsite, with some caves nearby. There is no water available at this campsite, so we must carry from the gate all the water needed for drinking, food preparation and cleaning. Arrive to a hot dinner in your mess tent.

DAY 2 – UMBWE FOREST CAMP ~ BARRANCO CAMP (12,950 ft./ 3,950 m.)                      

You will be woken with a steaming cup of tea or coffee at around 6am, and then continue steeply through the forest. Soon the taller trees will give way to Giant Erica and Giant Heather, and the air will become drier. The ridge line forms steeply on this day, and on either side of the trail, the ground drops away steeply. At some point the forest and the clouds will part to give you a fabulous view of Uhuru Peak, seemingly “overhead”. After lunch, you will encounter giant groundsels, seemingly guardians of untouched treasures. After 5 to 7 hours of trekking and scrambling, you reach camp. There are numerous tiny waterfalls around camp, fed by streams coming down the Great Barranco Valley. Hanging glaciers glint in the sunshine above, amidst an eerie landscape of groundsels (Senecio Kilimanjari), and the uniquely endemic Giant Lobelia.

DAY 3 – BARRANCO CAMP ~ LAVA TOWER (15,000 ft./ 4,570 m.) ~ BARRANCO CAMP

We begin from our camp in the morning following the rivers of the great valley, which emanate from the great glaciers above. The trail winds through a forest of towering senecio kilimanjari, and then steeply up the valley walls en route to Lava Tower, a 300 foot tall lava plug standing at a pass at 15,100 ft. (4,600 m). Test your ardour by scrambling to the top of the Lava Tower, for a panoramic view of the Western Breach, and the broken ridges of Shira below. To Lava Tower is 3-4 hours, where you’ll enjoy lunch, then return to camp (about 2 hours).

DAY 4 – BARRANCO CAMP ~ KARANGA CAMP (13,100 ft./ 3,995 mt.)

Today we trek to Karanga Valley Camp, at 13,000 feet (3,950 mt.), between Barranco and Barafu Camps. This day has proven to be very important for acclimatization. The day begins with a scramble up the steep ‘Barranco Wall’, then traversing up and down the slopes of valleys which have carved their way into the mountain’s southern face. Kibo’s glaciers loom above to your left and the jagged peaks of Mawenzi jut into the African sky at just under 17,000 feet straight ahead. We reach the Karanga Valley after 3-4 hours of trekking for a hot lunch. Afternoon to relax or to take excursions from camp.

 DAY 5 – KARANGA CAMP ~ BARAFU CAMP (15,200 ft./ 4,630 mt.)

From here the trail turns steadily uphill. The temperature will grow colder and the landscape more sparse as we near Barafu Camp. Barafu Camp is set on a small, exposed flat area on a ridge, acting a base camp from which you will make your summit attempt at midnight tonight. Total trekking time is 4-5 hours, with a hot lunch upon reaching camp. The afternoon is yours to rest and prepare for the long night ahead. Eat and drink as much as possible before retiring early to your tent for rest and sleep.

DAY 6 – BARAFU CAMP ~ UHURU PEAK (19,340 ft./ 5,895 mt.) ~ MWEKA CAMP (10,200 ft./ 3,110 mt.)

The steaming hot drink will arrive very early on this momentous day. A midnight wake-up call is the start of a juggernaut (12-17 hours of trekking). You begin trekking at 1am. The temperatures range from just below freezing at midnight, to between 10 deg. F (-12 deg. C) to –10 F. (-23 deg. C) just before dawn at the summit. The winding path of endless switchbacks will take form and shape in the shadows of the Ratzel and Rebman glaciers at early dawn, and behind you the spires of Mawenzi will be silouhetted against the red glow of the sun from beneath the clouds. After about 6 hours of walking, you will come to the edge of the crater, at Stella Point (at 19,000 feet (5,790 mt.)), which marks the end of the steep track. From here, there is a gentle slope about 1 hour to Uhuru Peak. After a short time at the summit, descend the steep scree trail back to Barafu Camp for some rest, then summon your strength again for further descent to Mweka Camp for the night.

DAY 7 – MWEKA CAMP ~ MWEKA GATE (6,000 ft. /1,830 mt.)                               

Descend straight to the gate (2-3 hours), where you’ll have lunch and will be awarded climbing certificates. End of our services.

Baranco Camp Kilimanjaro

Baranco Camp Kilimanjaro


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