Machame Route: Should you climb Kilimanjaro in as few days as possible?
The quick and dirty
Sometimes the fastest and cheapest way is far from the best. This is especially true on a Kilimanjaro climb.
The Machame Route has been popular ever since Kilimanjaro opened to global tourism in the 1950s. At 37 miles gate-to-gate Machame is the shortest, but one of the steepest of the six routes. Most local and foreign companies offer six or seven day Machame climbs for around $2,000. These are the cheapest climbs on the mountain and as we know, you always get what you pay for.
It has been dubbed the “whiskey” route because you will need a stiff drink if you try this steep climb in six too short days.
Less whiskey, more acclimatization
To summit Kilimanjaro enjoyably and safely you need less whiskey (actually no booze at all) and more time to acclimatize. Tusker has been climbing the mountain for over four decades and founder Eddie Frank has chosen to take more time on the Machame route. This improves his clients’ success rate of reaching Kibo summit at 19,341 feet, but also enhances their safety.
Tusker’s Machame route climb is a ten day trip and although grueling, it is not the forced march that a six day trip puts you through. A ten day climb allows more time to acclimatize as well as recover from jet lag. It may be longer and more money, but Tusker has well over a 90 percent summit success rate by allowing its clients to better acclimatize.
Tusker’s Machame climb unfolds gradually spending two nights at the base of the mountain in Moshi. It’s a time to recover from jet lag, check your equipment and bond with your guides and new fellow climbers. On day three you’re off through the rain forest on a 7.2 mile hike to Machame Camp at 10,600 feet.
The next three days you will gain just 2,600 feet in elevation as you gradually ascend climbing the 845 foot Barranco Wall. This extra time allows you to fully acclimatize for the final two days when you will summit and descend. By the time you reach Mweka Camp on Day 8 at 10,400 feet having achieved the summit you will be joyous in your achievement and congratulate yourself for choosing the right trek with the right company.
Once in a lifetime, don’t blow it
Climbing Kilimanjaro is one of those lifetime experiences that you need to be smart about. It’s a big decision and once you commit to it you want to get it right. Thousands show up, hire a fly by night outfitter and take Machame on a six day ordeal. Many don’t make it the summit, some get severe altitude sickness and worse.
Better to take your time, spend a little more money and go with the right company.