What’s The Difference Between the 6- and 7-Day Machame Route?

The Machame route is the most popular route on Mount Kilimanjaro.

It can be done as a 6 day or 7 day itinerary. If you’re interested in climbing the Machame Route, we highly recommend opting for the 7-day variation. Attempting the Machame route in 6 days is very tough. 

The standard 7-day route is shown here:

So to do the route in 6-days, you need to shave off one day from the standard route. This can be accomplished in a few different ways. However, none of these are great choices.

Here are the options:

  • On day two, trek from Machame Camp to Barranco, without camping at Shira, combining days two and three from the 7-day itinerary.  This is difficult because you’d have to climb from 9,350 feet (2,850 m) to 15,190 feet (4,600 m) and descend to sleep at 13,000 feet (4,000 m).  You’ll be on the trail a long time, for 10-14 hours.
  • On day four, trek from Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp, without camping at Karanga, combining days four and five from the 7-day itinerary.  This is difficult because it can take 8-10 hours to complete this leg, and then you can only sleep a few hours before you prepare for the midnight assault on the summit and descent, which can take another 11-14 hours.  Therefore, you’d be walking for 20 or so hours with only a few hours of sleep in between.
  • Through day five, you’d stick to the 7-day itinerary, trekking from Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp.  On day six, you’d summit and descend all the way to Mweka Gate instead of stopping at Mweka camp. You’d summit and get off the mountain on the same day, combining days six and seven from the 7-day itinerary.  Summit day is already tough without adding an extra 3-4 hours to your walk.  This day may last 14-18 hours.

As you can see, none of these are ideal.

Therefore the 6-day Machame route is not recommended. Unless you know you are a strong hiker and can adapt quickly to high altitude, the 7-day option is the best option.

Read more about Machame here.