What does a route on Africa’s highest mountain have to do with whisky? Certainly, there are people who treat themselves to a soothing whisky as a reward after successfully climbing Kilimanjaro. But that is not the reason why the Machame Route is nicknamed the “Whisky Route”. The scenic and challenging trail that leads to the summit of the 5895-metre-high mountain got its name because it was often perceived as more difficult than the Marangu Route, which is called the “Coca-Cola Route”. In contrast to the latter, on the Machame route hikers sleep in tents on the way to the summit. This type of overnight stay on the mountain is not only adventurous and exciting, but also a great experience: camping in the middle of nature and under the stars. Plus the view of the majestic Kibo or the lights in the valley – a dream of many outdoor enthusiasts.
An appropriate challenge
The Machame Route offers breathtaking views on the one hand, but on the other hand it is a reasonable challenge for mountain lovers. This means that it is physically demanding. Especially the steep passages at the Lava Tower and the Great Barranco Wall require a portion of attention as well as sure-footedness. But don’t worry – mountaineering skills are not required. Moreover, there is enough time to acclimatize, which increases the likelihood of reaching the summit. To cope with the route and the altitude in the best possible way, you should generally plan on seven days. For better acclimatization and to increase the chances of success, more days on the mountain are recommended, as is good physical condition and fitness.
Through tropical rainforest and alpine moorland
The ascent of the Machame Route begins above the picturesque mountain village of Machame in the south of Kilimanjaro. At the beginning, the trail leads through dense tropical rainforest. This appears somewhat mystical with its green trees covered with moss cushions and from which long lichens hang down. Then you hike through the heath and moor landscape up to the Shira Plateau. Here the landscape becomes increasingly barren and stony, but has fascinating plants to offer with the giant lobelia and large senecias.
Now you follow the southern route below Kibo, crossing the alpine moorland, where the plants are extremely hardy and consist of lichens, grasses and heather. You also climb over the Great Barranco Wall, stay overnight at Karanga Camp and approach Uhuru Peak from Barafu Camp. The temperatures get noticeably colder with increasing altitude. Not for nothing does the Kiswahili word “Barafu” mean ice.
At sunrise to the summit
The ascent to Barafu Camp offers incredible views of Mount Meru as well as Mawenzi Peak, the rest of Kilimanjaro’s volcanic cone. The last stage to the summit is certainly the most strenuous but also the most rewarding. The ascent is quite arduous due to the high altitude, but technically not difficult. In addition, the unforgettable sunrise, which you can see and enjoy in the early morning, makes the exertions bearable. Later, you are rewarded with a gigantic view and the wonderful feeling of having reached Uhuru Peak – the highest point in Africa – at 5895 meters. After you have had your fill, you descend to Millennium Camp, where you can rest and catch up on sleep. After the last stage, which again leads through the densely overgrown rainforest, you will be presented with your summit certificate at Mweka Gate.
The right equipment & best time to travel
During the Kilimanjaro climb you will cross up to five ecological zones, so it is important to have the right equipment with you. First and foremost, good shoes, but also warm clothing for the colder regions. Standing on the roof of Africa is in principle possible all year round, but there are certain times that are more suitable than others. Therefore, it is advisable to pay attention to the temperatures and rainfall of certain months.
Getting reliable weather information from Kilimanjaro will also be easier in the future. The company HydroCrowd has installed several weather and water stations on the mountain and developed an app with which you can check the weather and water conditions and transmit data yourself with your smartphone.
In addition, Afromaxx will not only advise you on the right equipment as well as the best time to travel and give you helpful tips for your Kilimanjaro adventure, but generally ensure an unforgettable trekking adventure in Tanzania.