The Machame route approaches Kilimanjaro through forest and moorland from the south-west, and enters the eastern side of the Shira Plateau before traversing beneath the southern icefields of Kibo. It follows the Barafu Ridge route to the summit. Reaching the rim at Stella Point relatively near to Uhuru is a bonus (this also applies to Shira and Lemosho routes).

Over 30% of all climbers now use the Machame route, making it the most popular of the wilderness routes. One reason for the popularity of the route is that it is easy to access from Moshi and Marangu and so the logistics of setting up the climb are less costly than for the remoter routes such as Lemosho and Shira. However, you should bear in mind that it is the second most crowded route (after Marangu) and that the ascent and descent are both on relatively close and similar sections of the southern flank.

What is the scenery like on Machame route?
The first two days on the Machame route reveal beautiful, rich rainforest. Above the forest a zone of giant heathers leads to the Alpine heath, then on to the high altitude desert and the snow-capped summit. The scene as you look up to Kibo from Baranco Camp is magnificent. Equally, as you contour round the Crater rim from Stella Point to Uhuru Point, the sight of the inner crater and the views back across the southern approaches of Kilimanjaro are breath-taking.

Descent is down the well-maintained Mweka Route. This is also a southern route so the ascent and descent offer very similar trails, flora and scenery.

How long is Machame route?
Machame itineraries are typically 6 or 7 days long. The optimum for altitude acclimatisation and budget is Machame7. If taking Machame6, you should consider an altitude acclimatising trek or safari before you embark on Kilimanjaro, because a six day Kilimanjaro climb to Uhuru Point is simply too rushed.

How tough is Machame route?
Machame Gate is comfortably close to Arusha, Moshi and Marangu, making access convenient. The rainforest sector – if wet – can be very muddy and slippery, as well as steep, so walking poles are advised. Only on Shira Cathedral and on the Barranco Wall is there any exposure to drop-offs.

In comparison with Rongai and Marangu routes, the final push to the summit is easier on Machame (as on Shira/Lemosho routes). This is because the trail to the rim of the Crater meets the rim at Stella Point – closer to Uhuru Point than Gilman’s Point on the busier routes. An hour less walking at an altitude of nearly 6000ms make a big difference on summit day!

While Machame is one of the most approachable routes on Kilimanjaro, we do not often recommend it for the simple fact that it becomes incredibly busy during peak season and because trekkers are often tempted to rush the route.

When is the best time to climb?
See our Kilimanjaro seasons chart for advice on the best times of year to climb, applicable to all routes.

What is the accommodation like?
You sleep in tents, not huts. The camps are very busy compared to the quieter Lemosho/Shira and Umbwe Route approaches. Once Barranco Camp is reached, then the camps thereon are the same as, and shared with other climbers on, Lemosho-Shira and Umbwe Routes.

Who should choose Machame route?
Machame route is fine for those climbers on a tight budget who are happy or even prefer to climb with lots of other trekkers. However, Rongai6 route has tended to prove more attractive than Machame6 in terms of avoiding the big crowds and also ease of gradient for the approach. While access to Rongai isn’t quite as convenient and the costs are marginally higher, we still recommend it over Machame for the vast majority of climbers.

You will find that most local outfits offer Machame and Marangu routes, as they are cheaper and more accessible, whereas international climb operators are more likely to prefer Rongai, Shira, Lemosho, and, much less often, Northern Circuit.

Note that Machame is an ascent-only route; you will descend via Mweka Route, passing Millennium Camp and the Mweka reaches of the beautiful southern rainforest before reaching Mweka Gate.