Of all the routes, Machame is by far the most scenic albeit steeper route up the mountain. The Rongai is the easiest camping route and the Marangu is also easy, but accommodation is in huts. As a result, this route tends to be very busy and ascent and descent routes are the same. Although the Rongai route is a flatter walk it offers less opportunities for acclimatisation. The Machame and Lemosho routes both allow better opportunities to "walk high and sleep low" which is critical to avoiding altitude sickness.
The summit is usually attempted on the very early morning of the 6th day (around midnight). Barafu is also used as a summit campsite for the Umbwe route. Trekkers typically take somewhere between five and seven hours to ascend, using headlamps and cold weather gear. Making the ascent on a full moon or shortly thereafter can make the headtorch unnecessary and the night ascent a beautiful experience. The first milestone, generally reached shortly after dawn, is Stella Point (18,652 ft/5,685 m), which is on the crater rim. Following Stella Point, the trail continues for another 30 mins to the summit - Uhuru Peak.
The descent back to Barafu takes roughly four hours. Some trekkers 'scree slide' down the slope, which entails skidding/running down the loose gravel at medium speed. From Barafu, trekkers typically take a short break, and continue downwards through the alpine desert and ensuing moorlands to Mweka Camp.