6 Day Machame Route – Is It Smart?
There are some mountaineering companies on Mt. Kilimanjaro who sell 6 days treks on the Machame route. The idea is to present tourists with more options, creating a cheaper price, and shorter amount of days. In my opinion, you should not attempt this route in 6 Days, as you are dramatically decreasing your chance of making it to the summit and dramatically increasing your change of getting altitude sickness.
The Machame route is best done in 7 days, as typically on the 6 day route, you are trying to compress 2 days into one, skipping Karanga Camp. Don’t get me wrong – I have seen people successfully summit by skipping Karanga camp, but from everyone I have spoke with, more often than not, they turn back, get sick, exhausted.
Take into account the following scenario of a six day climb:
The normal hike from Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp is give or take 6 to 7 hours. This is typically completed in on Day 4, as you are at about 15,000 ft/ 4000 meters. The hike from Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp is probably 5 hours on Day 5. This is typically completed in 1 day too, the day before you summit Kilimanjaro. If you skip Karanga Camp, your day hike would most likely be around 10 to 12 hours – (Day 4 + Day 5).
Now most people can hike 12 hours, but what make it extra difficult is that these compressed two days are the night before your summit. That means, you have to get up at midnight after your 12 hour hike (when you arrived at camp at 6:00 p.m.), hike for another 6 hours to the summit, and then descend another 6 to 8 hours down to Mweka Camp. If you take all this into account, doing the Machame in 6 days, you would have a hike, in under 2 days of 12 hours + 6 hours, + another 6 hours, basically 24 hour of solid hiking, with probably about 3 hours of solid sleep. Smart?
It is my opinion that if a company is selling you a 6 day Machame climb, they do not have your best interests in mind, which should be getting to the summit. If you are serious about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and want to actually summit, do it with your best interests in mind – take an extra day.