Machame is a challenging and at times steep trek with stunning scenery as it traverses through Kilimanjaros 5 diverse climatic zones. This route provides the opportunity to “trek high and sleep low” which is considered important in minimizing the potential for altitude sickness.
The climb starts above the picturesque mountain village of Machame to the south of Kilimanjaro. After passing through the Machame forest and into the moorland zone, we scramble up and over some rocks and eventually emerge onto the Shira Plateau. We then advance counter-clockwise traversing below the southern face of Kibo, climb Lava Tower for magnificent 360 degree panoramas, ascend the Great Barranco Wall, a challenging and exhilarating rock scramble, and approach Uhuru Summit from Barafu or Kossovo Camp and the ridge that abuts the Southeast Valley. The climb from Barafu offers incredible views of Mawenzi Peak and Kilimanjaro’s remnant volcanic cone.
On your arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport /shuttle bus stand a member of our staff will be at holding a Trekili Eco Expeditions placard. You will then be transferred to your Hotel for overnight
Depart Machame Gate and trek upwards through the montane rainforest, characterized by dense vegetation, a muddy trail and short sections of steep climbs where you may hear the calls of many exotic birds and if we are lucky we may see blue monkeys on the forest canopy and hear the grunting calls of the magnificent black colobus monkeys with their long ‘cape’ of white hair and a flowing white tail. Our first campsite, Machame Camp, is right after the dense tree cover in an area with lower but still thick bush where Podocarpus (African yellow-wood), Hagenia and Hypericum (St John’s Wort) dominate. In the evening you may hear the unmistakable shrieking call of the tree hyrax .
Today we continue through increasingly sparse trees and bushes into moorlands. Picturesque hanging mosses often cover trees offering an ethereal quality to the landscape. The day finishes with Shira Camp, which is on a small plateau in the high moorlands, and features views of Kibo in the northwest and Mount Meru towards the east. White necked ravens can be seen throughout the day and around our campsite.
Today we turn east and continue to climb “pole pole” (slowly, slowly) through increasingly rocky and desolate terrain. We will leave the moorland behind and continue up a rocky path through typical Kilimanjaro mountain vegetation of Senecios and Lobelia. We will pass through the alpine moorland zone where plants are extremely hardy and consist of lichens, grasses, and heather, to reach Kilimanjaro’s alpine desert zone. We take lunch at Lava Tower (4630m) and for those who feel up to it you can undertake an optional rock scramble (non-technical) to the top of Lava Tower where you will have spectacular panoramic vistas of the Karanga Valley below, Shira Plateau and the spectacular Western Breach above. From Lava Tower, we descend steeply for 2 hours down more than 600m into the Great Barranco Valley. This descent affords fantastic views and some great photo opportunities of the Western Breach and Breach Wall. You will also feel the clear benefits of this acclimatization day as we lose altitude down to the camp. Barranco Camp is set on a col (flat area) enclosed on three sides by the Breach Walls, and the Kibo massif itself. Hanging glaciers shimmer in the sunshine above amidst the eerie landscape of plants such as the giant groundsels, and the uniquely endemic Giant Lobelia. This is definitely the toughest day so far, but incredibly beautiful.
Today we undertake the Great Barranco Wall – an imposing face above Barranco camp. A steady climb up the eastern wall takes us just below the Heim Glacier, where we may have some breathtaking views of the Heim Glacier and Mt. Kilimanjaro depending upon the weather and any cloud cover. Our trail continues down into the alpine desert of the Karanga Valley, Here the temperature will grow colder as we follow the trail climbing through this barren and dry landscape up to the Barafu camp. Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice”, and the camping area is on a ridge in a narrow and exposed flat area. Here there are ever-present powerful winds blowing down from the mountain peaks. Our campsite at 4600m offers spectacular views of the nearby peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi. In preparation for your final ascent tonight, you will familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark, and prepare your equipment and thermal clothing for the summit attempt. Sleep will be difficult, though you will to retire to your tents after dinner to rest for the 1385m final ascent to the roof of Africa.
We will rise early to leave camp at around 12am and after a warm drink and a light snack, you will begin the most difficult though most rewarding day of the trek – your hike to the roof of Africa. After approximately 6 hours of slow but strenuous hiking, you will reach the rim of the main crater, Stella Point, at 5685m. At this point we stop to rest, eat lunch and take in the views over the clouds. From Stella Point the trail is normally snow-covered, and every step of the two-hour final ascent to Uhuru peak is challenging. Passing alongside the iridescent blue Rebmann and Tarzel glaciers we reach Elveda Point (5882) we can see Uhuru Peak now only minutes away. The roof of Africa is within your grasp. Arriving at the summit you feel a huge sense of elation and accomplishment you have done it, you have made it to the highest point in Africa. We spend as much time as you need to appreciate your accomplishment, as this is a day to remember for the rest of your life! The time you will spend on the summit will depend on the weather conditions and temperature. We start back down the same trail, and descend to Barafu camp. Here you will have a well earned but short rest and remove some of your many layers of clothing as the day begins to heat up. We head down the rock and scree path into the moorland zone, reaching the forest, and eventually arriving at Mweka Camp in the early afternoon where a hot shower and meal awaits. Today is the longest, and the most mentally and physically challenging of the trek, but a life changing day that will stay with you forever, as you have conquered the summit of Kilimanjaro.
Today your legs will be further tested as the trail descends steeply through the lush Mweka rain forest. The trail is steep in places and the going slippery if wet. The route follows the crest of a broad ridge separating two river valleys until it meets with a road that leads us for the last 40 minutes to the Mweka Park Gates where we stop for a well deserved picnic lunch where successful hikers will receive their summit certificates (gold for Uhuru Peale, Green for Stella point) from the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority. Post celebrations, we are taken by either private bus or jeep to Arusha , Overnight at your Lodge.
Depart Tanzania or continue your dream with an amazing safari extension. For trekkers not continuing with a safari we provide transfers to Kilimanjaro International Airport or bus station for your onward journey.