Sometimes called the Whisky Route. This is a popular route up steep paths through magnificent forests to gain a ridge leading through the moorland zones to the Shira Plateau. It then traverses beneath the glaciated precipices of the Southern Icefields to join the Barafu Route to the summit. An extra day could be added to the itinerary, best spent on the Shira Plateau, where you could walk to the Shira Needles. Strong groups could omit camping at Karanga River. The Mweka Route is used for the descent.
Accommodation on the mountain is in tents which the porters will pitch for you. You will need a sleeping bag, warm clothes and walking poles. This is a steep, tough trek within the limits of a fit individual used to walking in mountain areas.
Day 1 : Hike Machame Gate to Machame Camp
Drive from Moshi to the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park Gate takes about 50 minutes. The journey passes through the village of Machame which is located on the lower slopes of the mountain.
We depart the park gate and walk through the rain forest on a winding trail up a ridge. At lower elevations the trail can be muddy and slippery. Gaiters and trekking poles are a good idea here. We continue a short distance until we reach the Machame Camp.
-6,000 ft / 1,830 m to 10,200 ft / 3,100 m
-Distance: 18 km
-Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
-Habitat: Montane Forest
Overnight: Machame Camp
Day 2 : Machame Camp to Shira Camp
After breakfast we leave the glades of the rain forest and continue on an ascending path, crossing the valley along a steep rocky ridge. The route now turns west onto a river gorge until we arrive at the Shira campsite.
-10,200 ft / 3,100 m to 12,600 ft / 3,840 m
- Distance: 9 km
- Walking Time: 4-6 hours
- Habitat: Moorland
Overnight: Shira Camp
Day 3 : Shira Camp to Lava Tower to Barranco Camp
From the Shira Plateau we continue to the east up a ridge, passing the junction towards the peak of Kibo. As we continue, our direction changes to the South East towards the Lava Tower, called the "Shark's Tooth." Shortly after the tower we come to the second junction which brings us up to the Arrow Glacier (15,997 ft / 4,876 m). We now continue down to the Barranco Hut. Although you end the day around the same elevation as when you began, this day is very important for acclimatization and will help your body prepare for summit day.
-12,600 ft / 3,840 m to 12,700 ft / 3,860 m
-Distance: 15 km
-Walking Time: 5-7 hours
Overnight: Barranco Camp
Day 4 : Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp
After breakfast, we leave Barranco and continue on a steep ridge up the Barranco Wall, through the Karanga Valley to the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. We continue up to the Barafu Hut. You have completed the South Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here we make camp with views of the summit in the distance.
-12,700 ft / 3,860 m to 15,100 ft / 4,600 m
-Distance: 13 km
-Hiking Time: 8 hours
-Habitat: Alpine Desert
Overnight: Barafu Camp
Day 5 : Barafu Camp to Summit to Mweka Hut
Very early in the morning (midnight to 2 am), we continue our way to the summit between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers. You head in a northwesterly direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. At Stella Point you will stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see. Faster hikers may view the sunrise from the summit.
From Stella Poin, you may encounter snow all the way on your 1-hour ascent to the summit. Once at Uhuru Peak you have reached the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa!
From the summit we begin our descent by continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. You may want gaiters and trekking poles for the loose gravel going down. We arrive at Mweka Camp and enjoy our last night on the mountain.
-15,100 ft / 4,600 m to 19,300 ft / 5,895 m
-19,300 ft / 5,895 m to 10,200 ft / 3,100 m
-Distance: 7 km ascent / 23 km descent
-Hiking Time: 6-8 hours ascent / 7-8 hours descent
-Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit
Overnight: Mweka Hut
Day 6 : Mweka Camp to Moshi
After breakfast we continue the descent down to the Mweka Park Gate to receive your summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be plenty to wear (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy).
From the gate, continue another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet you at Mweka village to drive you back to your hotel in Moshi or Arusha. Don't forget to tip your guides and porters.
-10,200 ft / 3,100 m to 6,000 ft / 1,830 m
-Distance: 15 km
-Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Overnight: Hotel in Moshi