Day 1

Machame Gate to Machame Camp

Elevation (m): 1,490m to 2,980m

Elevation (ft): 4,890ft to 9,780ft

Distance: 18km

Hiking Time: 5-7 hours

Habitat: Montane Forest

Your day starts early with a briefing, followed by breakfast and a 50-minute drive from Moshi or a one and half hours drive from Arusha to the Machame Village (1,490 m/4,890 ft) where your guides and porters prepare and pack your equipment and supplies. You will enjoy a welcome lunch stop halfway up and will reach the Machame camping area in the late afternoon. Your porters will arrive at camp before you and will erect your tent before you arrive. In the evening, the porters boil drinking and washing water while the cook prepares your dinner. Night temperaturs can drop to freezing at the Machame Camp.

Day 2

Machame Camp to Shira Camp

Elevation (m): 2,980m to 3,840m

Elevation (ft): 9,780ft to 12,600ft

Distance: 9km

Walking Time: 4-6 hours

Habitat: Moorland

You rise early at Machame camp, and after breakfast, climb for an hour to the top of the forest, then for 2 hours through a gentle moorland. After a short lunch and rest, you continue up a rocky ridge onto the Shira Plateau where you will be able to see Kilimanjaro’s great Western Breach with its stunning glaciers. Sometimes, the walls of the Western Breach are draped with extensive ice curtains. You are now west of Kibo on the opposite side of the mountain from the Marangu Route. After a short hike west, you reach the shira campsite. The porters will boil drinking and washing water before serving dinner. The night at this exposed camp will be colder, with temperatures dropping below freezing.

Day 3

Shira Camp to Lava Tower to Barranco Camp

Elevation (m): 3,840m to 4,630m to 3,950m

Elevation (ft): 12,600ft to 15,190ft to 12,960ft

Distance: 15 km

Walking Time: 5-7 hours

Habitat: Semi-desert

After breakfast, you will walk up a steepening path above the highest vegetation toward Kilimanjaro’s looming mass. After several hours, you walk thorough a rocky landscape to reach the prominent landmark called Lava Tower, also called the “Shark’s Tooth.” at 4,630 m/15,190ft. After a lunch stop near Lava Tower, descend for 2 hours belowthe lower cliffs of the Western Breach and Breach Wall to Barranco Camp at 3,950 m/12,960 ft. There are numerous photo opportunities on this hike, especially if the walls are festooned with ice. On this day, be careful to notice any signs of altitude sickness. Although you end the day at almost the same elevation as when you started, this day is very important for acclimatization and will help your body prepare for summit day.

Day 4

Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp

Elevation (m): 3,950m to 4,550m

Elevation (ft): 12,960ft to 14,930ft

Distance: 13km

Hiking Time: 8 hours

Habitat: Alpine Desert

After spending a night under the imposing Great Barranco Wall, you climb this awesome obstacle, which turns out to be easier than it looks. The route then heads down through the Karanga Valley and goes over intervening ridges and valleys to join the Mweka Route, which will be your descent route. For now, all eyes are still on the summit, so turn left and hike up the ridge for another hour to the Barafu Hut. Your tent will be pitched on a narrow, stony, wind-swept ridge, so make sure that you familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark to avoid any accidents. Prepare your equipment and warm clothing for your summit climb. This should include replacing your headlamp and camera batteries, and to prevent freezing, consider carrying your water in a thermal flask. Go to bed by 7 PM, and try to get a few hours of precious sleep.

Day 5

Summit-Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp

Elevation (m): 4,550m to 5,895m (and down to 3,100m)

Elevation (ft): 14,930ft to 19,340ft (and down to 10,170ft)

Distance: 7km up / 23km down

Hiking Time: 6 – 8 hours up / 7 – 8 hours down

Habitat: Stone scree, seasonal snow and ice-capped summit

You will rise around 11:30 PM, and after some steaming tea and biscuits, you shuffle off into the night. Your 6-hour climb northwest up through heavy scree between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers to Stella Point on the crater rim is the most challenging part of the route for most climbers. At Stella Point (5,685 m/18,650 ft) you stop for a short rest and a chance to see a supremely sanguine sunrise. At Stella Point you join the top part of the Marangu Route, but do not stop here too long, as it will be extremely difficult to start again due to cold and fatigue.

Day 6

Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate to Moshi/Arusha

Elevation (m): 3,100m to 1,980m to 890m

Elevation (ft): 10,170ft to 6500ft to 2,920ft

Distance: 15 km

Hiking Time: 3 – 4 hours

Habitat: Forest

After a well-deserved breakfast, it is a short, scenic, 3-hour hike back to the park gate. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be plenty to wear (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy). Don’t give your porters any tips until you and all your gear have reached the gate safely, but do remember to tip your staff at the gate. At Mweka Gate, you can sign your name and add details in a register. This is also where successful climbers receive their summit certificates. From the Mweka Gate, you will continue down to the Mweka Village, possibly a muddy, 3 km, 1 hour hike if the road is too muddy for vehicles. In the Mweka Village you will be served a delicious hot lunch after which you are driven back to Moshi/Arusha for an overdue hot shower and comfortable night in a hotel.