There are 6 standard authorized TANAPA routes for Kilimanjaro climbing and one special route for the descent. These are two tourist routes Machame and Marangu and the camping routes Lemosho, Shire, Umbwe and Rongai. The Rongai Route is the only itinerary that starts in the territory of Kenya, while others are restricted to the territory of Tanzania.
The climbers who opt for Marangu and Rongai have no other choice but descend on the Mweka route. As for the other 4 routes, there’s just one descent path which is called Mweka. Machame and Marangu are the operators’ favorites, since both feature “permit offices” at the gates and thus assume a less complicated procedure for acquiring permits and actually climbing.
Guides usually refer to the Machame Route as the most challenging one, compared to the Marangu route. This is not true, since each of them is challenging and interesting in its own way.
Distinctive Features of the Machame Route
If you are considering climbing Kilimanjaro via Machame Route, then you should know some interesting facts about this route:
– Machame is one of the most popular routes
– 6-7 days are allotted for climbing, to guarantee better acclimatization
– The route from the assault camp to Uhuru peak takes 6-6.5 hours
– The Machame Route is not equipped with sleeping booths, unlike the Marangu route. However, most Europeans prefer sleeping in tents, rather than in booths.
– For the descent the climbers take the Mweka route, which opens up more picturesque views to admire
Machame Route Description
Locals refer to the Machame route as “whisky”. One of the main reasons why climbers opt for it is the method of climbing. On the third day of climbing you leave the so-called Shira Hut at the level of 3840 meters and climb up to the Lava Tower which is located at 4630 meters. Further on you go down to the Barranco Camp (3860 meters). This is one of the most appropriate options for acclimatization on the way to the summit of Kilimanjaro.
Below is the Machame route map on Kilimanjaro:
The climbers set out from a tropical rainweald and follow a well-equipped path which features waste channels on both sides. You will find decent restrooms at regular intervals along the entire route. On the last day of climbing you’ll find yourself at the so-called Leopard Point, located at the rim of the Kibo caldera at the height of 5650 meters. The place took its name from the mummified corpse of a leopard, found in that area.
The only downside of the route is its length, though a highly significant one. The route is 49 km long. In 6 day Kilimanjaro tours 7-9 hour transfers at high altitudes can exhaust even the most skilled and sophisticated climbers right before the assault. An additional 7th day can make the tour less challenging in terms of physical stress.
Many tourists are wondering about wildlife. On the Machame Route, just like on others you might hardly meet any representatives of the fauna, since they usually inhabit the woody areas so that they cannot be seen through the thick wilds. Those who wish to see wildlife should better take a safari tour to Tanzania’s national parks.