Kilimanjaro Expedition – Day 1

Kilimanjaro – Day 1/6: Machame Gate (1,800 m) – Machame Camp (2,835 m)

Route Map

(click on objectives for extended version)

Technical Box

Difficulty: easy
Duration / distance: 5 hours / 11 km
Marking: Machame Route, unmarked
Water sources: there are none
Minimum Altitude: 1,800 masl, at Machame Gate
Maximum Altitude: 2,835 masl, at Machame Camp
Level difference: +1,216 m / -0 m
Remark: Mountain forest (rainforest) area, access with payment and guide

1. To Machame Gate

The night before the start of the expedition, I slept in Moshi, where I had both accommodation and breakfast provided. Around 11 o’clock I was picked up by the organizer of the expedition, Paul, by car to drive me to Machame Gate, the entrance gate to the Kilimanjaro Natural Park for the Machame Route. We stopped to buy a local internet card, which I used in every camp.
I followed the A23 towards Arusha, in Weru Weru I changed direction to the right on a secondary road for 6.5 km to the destination. We crossed Nshara, Machame, Nkweseko through the cultivation area. Most of the inhabitants are poor, they live in very modest houses. They sell cultivated products: bananas, coffee, other fruits and vegetables, but also souvenirs or sun hats. After about 1 hour we arrived at Machame Gate.

Machame Gate

Machame Gate

Machame Gate

2. Machame Gate

Here is an important registration and organization point. I served breakfast at the casserole. In the generous parking lot, porters organize the luggage they are going to carry. The weights allowed to be carried are regulated, for example 15 kg maximum for men and 10 kg for women. The luggage to be carried by the porters includes, in addition to the large luggage of each tourist, those with food, tents and accessories necessary for the entire team that serves the group of tourists. There are many groups each with at least one guide, to which an assistant guide, a cook, a waiter and several porters can be added, depending on the size of the group. It is possible for a team to serve only one tourist. There are dozens of local organizers of ascents on Kilimanjaro and dozens of groups that start the expedition from the various access gates to the Kilimanjaro Natural Park. At the registration point, the guide fills in the registers his name and the composition of the group of tourists with name, age, sex.
I took pictures at the entrance to the park, where I lingered for a boring long time. Here I found out that on the first day we had 11 km to cover in 5 hours, that we start at an altitude of 1800 and that we are in the tropical forest area. There are 42 km to Uhuru Peak in 32 hours on the Machame route. We also learn that Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the 7 wonders of Africa

2:00 p.m.
Let’s go. We immediately pass another checkpoint with gates, where it is checked that you do not enter the natural park with plastic, because plastic is prohibited on Kilimanjaro. It should be noted that tourists’ water containers are accepted, but not plastic bottles of water or other drinks bought in the store.
2:10 p.m.
We pass the “starting point” indicator. The desire to move my legs on the path is very great. At the beginning, we were following a wide, smooth road, as if leveled for car access. Luckily, it didn’t take long and we finally entered the path.

me and Azizi

Machame Gate

The 7 wonders

Control point

Machame Route

3. Through the Rainforest

We are in the rainforest. Vegetation is abundant. Green everywhere. And not only green. The researchers found distinct ecosystems and forest types in this green belt at the foot of the mountain. It is the area where it rains more. In fact, the part of the route where you are most likely to get rained on.
On the southern side of the mountain, namely on the Machame Route where we are, the amount of precipitation is higher than on the northern side. Flora and fauna are rich. In general, the animals are expensive to look at and do not show much on the road. Exceptions are colobus monkeys and baboons. We encountered the first monkeys right at the starting point at Machame Gate.

Although leopards, mongooses, elephants, rhinoceroses, giraffes and buffaloes live in this habitat, they can rarely be seen. The chances of seeing wildlife are more in the upper part of the rainforest, but don’t get your hopes up. The tropical forest is fascinating both through the richness of the vegetation, the multiple shades of green, sprinkled with other gorgeous colors of yellow, red, purple and white flowers encountered. Huge ferns are found everywhere. The trees seem to be twisted. Moss coats the trunks and branches of trees.

Our path looks very neat, an expectation I would not have had before documenting myself. It is bordered with tree branches, which delimit it and protect it from rain. There are also fords set up for possible water leaks that cross the path. In the sloping sectors, wooden and earthen steps are dug.
I tend to have a faster climbing pace than my guide, Azizi. He tells me that we will climb “pole pole” meaning slowly. But really that slowly? I wonder in my mind, especially since the route is easy on this first day. There are also two toilets on the route. Isn’t it gorgeous?

The more we climbed in altitude, we encountered more “beards” hanging from the tree branches, like stalactites in a cave or like decorations stuck in a green ceiling. I befriend an American, Prince, in a moment of rest and massage recovery due to muscle cramps. And I am amazed. I find out that he was in my native country, Romania, and he begins to amaze me with details about his visits to Cluj, Timisoara, Sibiu, Brașov.

The forest is starting to thin out, a sign that we have gained altitude and that the climatic zone of the rainforest will soon end. Yes, we are close to the terminus of today’s route, right at the upper limit of the tropical forest. What an easy route we had! Community Verified icon

monkey

Flowers from the rainforest

Impatiens kilimanjari

ferns

ferns

Rain forest

moss

Rain forest

the path

the path

Fords in the path

Azizi

toilet

Rain forest

Kilimanjaro

beards

beards

hiking buddies

hiking buddies

the forest is thinning

the forest is thinning

4. Machame Camp

6:30 p.m.
We were entering the area of ​​the first camp, Machame Camp. We are at 2835 m altitude, but you wouldn’t say it! By comparison, although it’s not very suitable, it’s like I’m at 1800 in Romania. We wander around the camp for about 10 minutes and report to the tent. Dinner will be ready soon. In Machame Camp there were also 2 rangers’ houses.

We see the top of the mountain for the first time. It seems a little far yet. No, come on, it’s close!
6:40 p.m.
In a few minutes it got dark.

 

Machame Camp

Good night!

Ranger's house

Ranger's house

Mt. Kilimanjaro

Conclusion

After day 1 of the ascent, a very exciting and challenging Kilimanjaro expedition is announced. Good night!

See you tomorrow!

Steps: