Kilimanjaro – Machame Route
August 26 – September 4, 2019
Following a successful 2017 expedition to the top of Africa via the Rongai route, we are offering a Machame route option for 2019. Join us for an educational science expedition to the top of Kilimanjaro (5,895 m/19,341 ft.)!
You’ll get to experience the changing terrain as we journey through forest, moorland, and alpine desert landscapes. We’ll also enjoy exploring the glaciers at the summit.
This trip requires a minimum of 3 participants to run.
Includes: airport/hotel transfers; transport from Arusha to starting point on mountain and return to Arusha; National Park gate fees; hut/camping fees; certified local guide; porters’ salaries; rescue fees (required by the national park); all meals on the mountain; 2 nights’ accommodation in Arusha hotel (double occupancy (single supplements apply)); tents, foam sleeping pads, cooking equipment, eating utensils, and portable toilet.
Excludes: international airfare; excess baggage fees (international); tips for Science in the Wild guides, local guides, and porters; mountain equipment (e.g. sleeping bags); meals off the mountain
As a citizen-scientist participant you’ll be actively involved in the following:
WEATHER/CLOUDS: Collecting weather data (e.g., air temperature, humidity, wind speed) on trail and as we transition between the biomes/mountain zones (forest, moorland, alpine desert, summit glaciers) to understand day-to-day, day/night, and altitude variations. Using your SITW provided cloud notebooks you’ll observe clouds and cloud changes during our journey up the mountain. Learn how to forecast the weather based on your observations. This will be crucial for our ascent!
GEOLOGY/HYDROLOGY: Helping us sample and measure soil, volcanic rock and water properties in the biomes/mountain zones (forest, moorland, alpine desert, summit glaciers) to document variations between the zones and altitudes. You’ll join us on a geo treasure hunt in the high alpine desert, searching for rocks with light-colored weathered “coatings” as these serve as an analog to rocks on the surface of Mars!
GLACIOLOGY: Exploring the summit glaciers up close. We’ll have a laser rangefinder for you to use for measuring glacier heights and variations in glacial layer thicknesses. You’ll learn about how deforestation and other land use changes have affected these masses of ice.
ASTRONOMY: Learning how to recognize constellations and how to use an astrolabe for predicting Sun, Moon, planet, and star positions. We’ll also break out a telescope at our camps.
We look forward to taking you on this unique journey to the top of one of the world’s 7 Summits!
Day 1 - Travel and Arrival Day
Plan to arrive today at the Kilimanjaro International airport, where you’ll be greeted by the SITW team and transferred to our hotel in Arusha for the night.
Day 2 - Arusha rest day
Today is a rest and time zone adjustment day at the hotel. We’ll conduct a gear check to make sure that you have everything you need to be successful on the mountain. In the evening we’ll have a discussion and presentation on the geology and volcanology of Kilimanjaro.
Day 3 - Machame Camp at 2980 meters
We’ll have an early breakfast at the hotel and then will be picked up and driven to the Machame Village. Depending on road conditions, we’ll either continue driving the 3 kilometers or walk to the Machame Gate at 1490 meters. Our porters will organize and pack everything for the trek while our team registers with the Tanzania National Park (TANAPA).
Our first day’s trek will be into the rainforest. Be on the lookout for wildlife, especially for monkeys! Halfway up the trail, we’ll stop to eat a packed lunch. We plan to arrive at Machame Camp (2980 meters) in the late afternoon or early evening. After getting settled and getting some rest in the tents, we will have a hot dinner and turn in for the night.
Day 4 - Shira Camp at 3840 meters
After an early morning breakfast, we will trek through the rainforest and then into what’s called the “moorland” zone, home to unique vegetation like giant groundsels that tower overhead. We’ll have some time to explore them up close.
After a few stream crossings and crossing a rocky ridge onto the Shira plateau, we will arrive at Shira Camp (3840 meters). From here we’ll have an amazing view of the Western Breach and its glaciers. We’ll chat geology and glaciology from this viewpoint. If the weather is good, we’ll break out a telescope.
Day 5 - Barranco Camp at 3950 meters
Following an early morning breakfast, we will leave the moorland environment and enter a rocky and desert landscape. After 5 hours of walking, we will arrive at the Lava Tower (4630m), where we’ll have lunch and an opportunity for geological exploration and climbing.
After lunch, we descend from Lava Tower (4630m) to the Barranco campsite (3950m), located in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall (“Breakfast Wall”). Climbing high and sleeping low will aid in acclimatizing our bodies to these high altitudes.
Day 6 - Karanga Camp at 3950 meters
After an early morning breakfast, we will trek the Great Barranco Wall, a class 2 hike. At the top of the wall, we will have views of the Heim glacier and have an opportunity to take photos. The trail then winds up and down the Karanga Valley before arriving at Karanga camp at 3950 meters for the night.
Day 7 - Barafu camp at 4600 meters
Following breakfast, we leave Karanga camp and intersect the Mweka Route, which is the trail we will use for our descent. After an hour of hiking, we reach the Barafu Hut for a break and some geology. The word “barafu” in Swahili means “ice” and Barafu camp is located on a rocky, exposed ridge. Tents will be exposed to wind and rocks so familiarization with the campsite before dark will be crucial. An early dinner will be served so we can rest before attempting the summit the next morning. If you can’t sleep, we’ll have the telescope out!
Day 8 - Summit Attempt
Today we wake in the early morning (e.g., 2 or 3 AM, depending on weather conditions) to begin our summit attempt. The route heads northwest and requires hiking over scree. After 6 hours, we reach Stella Point (5685m), located on the crater rim. From there, it is about another 2 hours on a trail to Uhuru Peak (5895m). We’ll have time to explore one of the summit glaciers, as well as collect snow and ice samples for further analysis at our lower camp. The hike down to Barafu camp takes about 3 hours. At camp, we will enjoy a hot meal. Depending on how the group is feeling, we can continue down to Mweka Hut (3100m).
Day 9 - Mweka gate and Arusha
Following a good breakfast, we will have a big celebration full of dancing and singing. It is here on the mountain that tips typically are presented to the guides, assistant guides, chef(s), and porters. After celebrating, we descend another 3 hours to Mweka Gate. After checking out of the park, arrive at Mweka village after an hour. We will have lunch and then drive back to Arusha for more food, showers, celebrations, and sleep!
Day 10 - Departure
Today, transfer to Kilimanjaro airport for the flight back home*.
*We recommend budgeting 1 – 2 extra days in Arusha in case of delays on the mountain – e.g., bad weather.
Please contact us for more information if interested in adding a short excursion to the beaches of Zanzibar or a wildlife safari, post-climb!
Ok, I'm interested, what do I do now?
Send us an email or give us a call to register your interest. We’ll provide you with a more detailed itinerary, route map, equipment list and required medical forms.
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