The Machame Route now vies with the Marangu Route as the most popular trail. Machame is also the regarded by many guides as the most enjoyable, though it is longer and, according to most, more arduous. Despite this, the success rate on the Machame Route is higher than on the Marangu Route, possibly because the Machame is a day longer at six days and five nights (assuming you take the Barafu Route to the summit) which gives trekkers more time to acclimatize. An extra acclimatization day can – and usually is – taken in the Karanga Valley. The Machame Route also gives you the option of taking the Western Breach / Arrow Glacier Route to the summit.
Where does the Machame Route go?
It is not difficult to see why the Machame Route is so popular with everyone: beginning on the south-western side of the mountain, the trail passes through some of the mountain’s finest features, including the cloud forest of Kili’s southern slopes, the dry and dusty Shira Plateau and the delightful senecio-clad Barranco Campsite.
To reach the actual summit you have a choice of two paths: most people head for the lengthy, long-winded climb up the Barafu trail, with the Rebmann Glacier edging into your field of vision on your left as dawn breaks behind Mawenzi on your right. Alternatively, the more adventurous can go on the Western Breach Route, departing from the regular trail at Lava Tower on the western side of Kibo before heading up to chilly Arrow Glacier Campsite, then pressing on from there to the crater floor, gaining access to the crater at a point near the Furtwangler Glacier. Many people will spend a night here at the Crater Campsite, before pushing on up the crater’s southern rim to Uhuru Peak.
Unlike the Marangu Route, on the Machame Route you don’t use the same path to descend as you took to climb up the mountain, but instead you come down via the Mweka Route, a steep but very pretty descent encompassing inhospitably dry mountain desert and lush lowland forest in a matter of a few hours.
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