Explore the Machame Route, a scenic and popular path to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Discover detailed insights, tips, and what to expect on this challenging trek. Your adventure to the Roof of Africa starts here!

The Machame Route is the most popular of the seven (7) routes to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. It is much loved by most climbers because it passes through a number of different habitats thus offering breathtaking views. Approximately fifty percent (50%) of the climber that attempt the Mount Kilimanjaro Trek use the Machame Route. Because it takes fewer days to complete and it’s more accessible, this is among the cheaper routes on the mountain.

This route is also referred to as the ‘Whiskey Route’ because it is known as a more challenging with a steeper trail and covers longer distances as compared to the Marangu or ‘Coca-Cola’ Route which gradually ascends. Also, unlike on the Marangu route where accommodation is offered in huts, on the Machame trail, accommodation is in tents.

The trail can be completed in a minimum of just six (6) days, however it is better recommended that it is completed in seven (7) days to allow for better acclimatization. Furthermore, a better success rate to the peak has been registered on the seven day itinerary than on the six day itinerary.

This machame Route can be perfectly combined with a safari tour in Northern Tanzania, like our 5 Days Northern Tanzania lodging safari.

The Machame trail starts at the Machame Gate, found on the southern side at the bottom of the mountain and it’s just a brief drive from either Arusha or Moshi. You will traverse the verdant montane rain-forest at the start of the trail and this section normally receives some rainfall. This section is generally steep and very slippery so we recommend that you use trekking poles.

As the trail progresses towards the Shira Plateau, the forest will thin away and then you will enter into the heather zone characterized by low bushes. After the trail ascends to the volcanic plug – Lava tower prior to dropping and encircling the south ice-field. The pathway from Barranco connecting to Karanga to Barafu is circular and it’s referred to as the Southern Circuit. So as it winds around the mountain, climbers will definitely be rewarded with breathtaking views.

The longer and more demanding approach to the peak is made from the eastern side, and you will encounter a number of bends along the trail, encountering more loose stones along the way until you eventually make it to the edge of the crater known as Stella Point. From this point the terrain is fairly flat and it will take you approximately one hour to reach the summit of the Kilimanjaro at the Uhuru Peak. The fastest descent to the bottom will be along the Mweka trail.

This route covers a distance of approximately 62 kilometers (37 miles) from gate to another. This route is best suited for climbers with hiking experience, however, several first timers also use this route and actually complete. It is ranked as one of the better routes on Mountain Kilimanjaro and for that reason highly recommended by Kilimanjaro Trails and many other Mt. Kilimanjaro expert operators. This is a better choice than the renowned Marangu route.

Machame Route Itineraries

Choose your Mount Kilimanjaro Route

Machame Route

Machame Route

At Kilimanjaro Trails we offer Mount Kilimanjaro climbing through the Machame
machame Route

Marangu Route

Also known as the Coca-Cola route, this is the easiest route of all Kilimanjaro trails
Lemosho Route

Lemosho Route

This is a fairly new route on the mountain and it is greatly recommended by operators.
Northern Circuit Route

Northern Circuit Route

Climbers having ample time for this trek should actually think of taking
Rongai Route

Rongai Route

The only route that approached the summit from the north, close to Kenyan border
umbwe route

Umbwe Route

This is the most challenging route on mountain Kilimanjaro.

Machame Route Kilimanjaro – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the distance of the Machame Route and how many days does it take?

The Machame Route covers an approximate trekking distance of 62 km (37 miles), encompassing the entire climb from the trailhead at Machame Gate up to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, and descending all the way down to Mweka Gate. The minimum duration required for the Machame Route is 6 days, but considering arrival and departure days, the total trip typically spans 10 days.

To enhance acclimatization and increase chances of successfully reaching the summit, it is highly recommended that trekkers opt for a 7 or 8-day itinerary. Extending the duration of the trek allows for a more gradual ascent, better acclimatization, and a higher likelihood of a comfortable and successful climb.

Please note that while the 6-day option is available, it involves a more rapid ascent and may be more challenging due to the reduced acclimatization time.

How difficult is the Machame Route?

The Machame Route is often considered one of the less difficult routes on Kilimanjaro due to its longer itinerary, which allows for better acclimatization. Nonetheless, it presents its own set of challenges. Hikers will need to ascend the Barranco Wall, a steep and physically demanding section, and will also face a steep and strenuous climb on summit night.

While the route does not involve any technical climbing, a good level of fitness is highly recommended. Proper preparation and training are essential, as they will significantly enhance your chances of successfully reaching the summit and enjoying the experience. For comprehensive advice on preparing for your Kilimanjaro climb, including tailored training programs, you can read more on our Training to Climb Kilimanjaro page and Kilimanjaro Training Program.

What is the Machame Route Summit Success Rate?

Thanks to its “climb high, sleep low” approach, the Machame Route boasts high summit success rates. While there are no official statistics, the average summit success rate across all operators is reported to be around 85% for the 7-day trek, and approximately 73% for the 6-day trek. This difference underlines the importance of allowing more time for acclimatization, which significantly enhances the likelihood of reaching the summit.

For our operations specifically, we are proud to maintain an impressive 95% summit success rate for climbers choosing the Machame Route. This higher success rate is a testament to our experienced guides, thoughtful acclimatization schedules, and comprehensive preparation for our clients.

To understand the importance of acclimatization and why we recommend longer treks, you can read more on our [How Many Days It Takes to Climb Kilimanjaro page].

What is the Scenery like on the Machame Route?

The scenery on the Machame Route is incredibly diverse and breathtaking, offering trekkers an opportunity to pass through five distinct climatic zones as they ascend towards the summit. Here is a breakdown of the zones and what you can expect:

  1. Rainforest Zone:

    The trek begins in the lush and vibrant rainforest, where towering trees, vibrant flowers, and rich wildlife, including monkeys and colorful birds, create an enchanting environment. This zone is characterized by frequent rain, creating a lush and verdant landscape.

  1. Low Alpine Zone:

    As you ascend, the rainforest gradually gives way to the low alpine zone, marked by wild grasslands and flowering moorlands. The foliage becomes sparser and hardier, with striking plants like giant lobelias and senecios.

  1. High Alpine Zone:

    Continuing upwards, trekkers enter the high alpine zone, a landscape dominated by rocky terrain, sparse vegetation, and surreal, otherworldly formations of lichen-covered rocks.

  1. Glacial Zone:

    Nearing the summit, the terrain transforms once more into a stark and awe-inspiring glacial zone. Here, the temperatures are colder, and trekkers will encounter magnificent glaciers and a lunar-like landscape devoid of vegetation.

  1. Summit Zone:

    The final push to the summit is through arctic conditions, where permanent ice and snow cap the peak, and the air is thin and cold. The panoramic views from the summit are unparalleled, offering a breathtaking vista of the vast plains below.

Throughout the journey, trekkers will visit remarkable landmarks such as the expansive Shira Plateau, the imposing Barranco Wall, and the iconic Lava Tower. Each day on the Machame Route brings with it new and stunning vistas, making the trek not just a physical challenge, but also a continuously unfolding visual journey to the Roof of Africa.

When is the best time to Trek Machame Route?

The best time to trek the Machame Route on Mount Kilimanjaro is from July to September. During this period, the weather is most stable, and trekkers are less likely to encounter rain. The skies are generally clearer, and temperatures are relatively warm, which provides excellent conditions for climbing.

That being said, since Kilimanjaro is located close to the equator, it is possible to climb the mountain at any time of the year. Here is a breakdown of the seasons:

  1. January to March:

    These months are generally colder than July to September, but they are also quieter. This is a good time to climb if you prefer a less crowded environment.

  1. April and May:

    These months are best avoided as this is the long rainy season. The trails can be slippery and wet conditions can make the trek more challenging.

  1. June to September:

    These are among the best months to climb. The weather is stable, and these months are considered to be the high season for Kilimanjaro treks.

  1. October to December:

    These months are quieter than July to September, but the short rains can occur, especially in November. The conditions are generally good, and the mountain is less crowded.

  1. November:

    This month is generally regarded as the short rainy season, but the amount of rain is usually much less than in April and May.

While July to September is considered the high season and offers the most stable weather, some trekkers opt for the quieter months to avoid crowds, even if it means contending with colder temperatures or occasional rain showers.

Generally, while it is possible to climb Kilimanjaro year-round, the best chance for dry and stable conditions on the Machame Route is from July to September, and it is generally advisable to avoid the long rainy season in April and May.