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TREKS - MACHAME ROUTE
Kilimanjaro Treks – Machame
Machame route to the summit of
Kilimanjaro is very special; it gives you a chance to really get to
know this extraordinary mountain. The huts for this route are in a
very poor state of repair and are used by the porters; tents are
used on this route. All supplies and camping equipment are portered;
with a baggage limit of 12 kg. The night before your climb is best
spent in the Machame village from where your climb will begin. This
allows your body to begin to adjust to the altitude affording a
better chance of reaching the summit.
Many, overseas travel agents
will use hotels in Moshi Town, which is at a lower altitude and at
least an hours drive from the Kilimanjaro park gate. The usual
reason for this is many hotels also double up as a mountaineering
company. These hotels will give the pre-climb overnight and
post-climb overnight as complimentary in order to secure the
business of the Kilimanjaro climb; thereby reducing costs to the
travel agents; this discount is not always passed onto the climbers.
It is always preferable overnight in one of the small but good
hotels in Machame. I must add that Moshi town, for me, is hot dusty
and most uninteresting, with Machame or Marangu [depending on which
route you use] offering a more colorful first night.
The Machame itinerary is one of
the most scenic routes by which to climb to the highest point in
Africa; it is less used than the Marangu route and it may be said,
all the better for it. This route will ascend from the western side
of Kilimanjaro passing through tropical rainforest to the snows of
Kilimanjaro, with views of the western face and the southern
ice-fields and descend down the south face.
A typical itinerary would be to
spend the first night in the Machame village set on the mountain and
close to the park gate. The foothills of Kilimanjaro are cultivated;
where subsistence farmers grow coffee and bananas. There are many
pleasant walks around the village and time can be spent getting to
know the local Chagga people.
Day 1: This is a 5 hour walk
through dramatic forest up to Machame Hut at 3000m. Wildlife may be
seen at these lower altitudes, including many species of forest
Day 2: To Shira Cave, a walking
time of 6 hours. The hike today starts off quite steeply to the top
of the forest, then a couple of hours at a more gentle incline
through the lower moorlands brings you to the top of a rocky bluff
by about lunch time. From here descend 50 feet then start to trek
westwards, a gradual ascent to Shira Cathedral and your camp at
approx 3800m, on a plateau, with views of Mt.Meru and the Kenya
Day 3: Walking time of 8 hours
and the climbing is a fairly strenuous day, the altitude will begin
to takes its toll, it is essential to take your climb slowly. From
the Shira Cave climb slowly for about 5 km, through the ever
increasingly bleak terrain. Head towards the cone of Kibo. Overnight
camping at Barranco (3900m).
Day 4: Today starts with a steep
hike up to Barranco Wall. There are some scree slopes and ridges to
Karanga at an altitude of 4100m. There are breathtaking views here
of the West Breach and the southern glacier. After the exerting
start to the day arrive at the Karanga Valley for lunch and spend
the rest of the day at this level. The time spent here affords more
time for the body to adjust to the altitude and also reduces the
distance of the next day’s hike and the slower pace will
considerably increases your chance of reaching the summit.
Day 5: To Continue the trek to
Barafu ridge at 4600 meters above sea level [Barafu in Swahili means
ice]. Again this is an acclimatization day having a relatively short
distance to hike before the big final ascent starting at midnight.
Day 6: Starting around midnight
in preparation for the final ascent. It is imperative to dress
warmly as temperatures often plummet to minus 20°C The final days
assault begins by torch light up the path to the crater’s edge at
Stella Point - this takes at least 7 hours - walking slowly with
frequent rests; continue along the edge of the Crater after a short
rest, to the highest point in Africa - Uhuru Peak at 5895m - with
incredible views of glaciers and the plains of Africa stretched out
below. Then the descent to Mweka, stopping for a short rest at
Barafu, and arriving late afternoon at Mweka; which is on the edge
of the rainforest. If anyone in party is showing any signs of
altitude sickness you guide will descend fairly quickly to this
camp. [See my article on altitude sickness.]
Day 7: Descend to Mweka Village
about 4 hours steady downhill walk to meet the transport to the
hotel for a hot shower and to celebrate your achievement.
Day 8: I would now recommend a
visit to one of the spiced islands of the Zanzibar Archipelago – see
the article ‘The Spiced islands of Zanzibar’.
For further information on
Kilimanjaro, Tanzania and Zanzibar see
http://betheladventure.co.uk using tourism to fund
community initiatives focused on the education of the young and the
medical care for the whole family. Using tourism to change lives.
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