You want to come to Tanzania and conquer the rooftop of Africa? Kilimanjaro is a bucket list item of yours? And then you see the price of your dream? What is your dream worth? How much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro
Before you start chasing for the cheapest deal to climb Kilimanjaro, I will explain to you why your Viva Africa Tours deal will by far not be the most expensive one. You will also find cheaper options, if you really want to.
There are over 200 licensed tour operators offering Kilimanjaro treks. If you walk through Moshi town, almost every second person will say, that they can take you up the mountain. The truth is: The number of reliable operators going to Kilimanjaro is limited.
Don’t choose your tour operator by the price alone. What you’re looking for is quality service for a reasonable rate!
Budgeting for Kilimanjaro will require you to know the costs of your trip. Otherwise it will be hard for you to distinguish horribly overpriced and unrealistic deals for your trek. So, what does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro?
WHAT ARE THE COSTS FOR KILIMANJARO?
Every tour to the rooftop of Africa is built around these basic expenses for the tour operator: Park fees, camping fees, rescue fees, staff wages, transportation and logistical costs and taxes. What should the price be to climb Kilimanjaro? Let’s calculate this through!
The total cost for climbing Kilimanjaro via 6-day Machame Route
The national park fee for Kilimanjaro is 420USD for a 6 days climb and 250USD for 5 nights camping. Depending on your group size each climber will be accompanied by 4 porters, a chef and 1 guide. Local wages for these crew members are about 280USD of your trek. Additionally food costs for yourself and the crew add up to about 250USD. Also depending on your route there will be transport costs of around 100USD. Along with these major expenses there are quite a few minor factors like rescue fees, organisational fees, equipment maintenance and taxes.
OVERPRICED TOURS OR LUXURY OPERATOR?
Luxury Kilimanjaro operators lure with extraordinary success rates, greater safety standards and similar extras, but will charge prices, that are not justifiable. No matter what your luxury Kilimanjaro operator is promising, 4000 – 5000USD, sometimes up to 6000USD for a Kilimanjaro trek on a standard itinerary is too much!
Unpractical extras – I must admit, some of their ideas really sound good, but once tried on the mountain, they’re not practical. Yes, you will crave for a nice and hot shower after your trek. But that doesn’t mean that the portable shower at -20°C offered by your operator makes any sense? Or having bottled Kilimanjaro water (the most common bottled water in Tanzania) on your entire trek instead of purified mountain water from small streams.
Foreign tour operator – One more thing: Most of these luxury tour operators are not based in Tanzania, which means that they’re not focused on Kilimanjaro. They offer it as part of an extensive list of tour offers. This has three consequences: One – Kilimanjaro is not their daily business. Two – Your booking will go through many middle mens’ hands, before it reaches the guides at the base of Kilimanjaro. Three – If something goes wrong, your contact people are far from where you are. Maybe not even speaking the language – might not be of much help on the ground.
BLACK SHEEP OR LOW BUDGET TOUR OPERATORS?
For those looking forward to climb Kilimanjaro on a budget, there is the opposite end of the price range. We’re all looking for the best deal and in one way or another. We’re all on a budget. One might be higher, another budget might be really low, but it’s (at least almost) limited. So the question is how cheap can your trek be without being a scam? At what cost does the price hunt come?
At this side of the price range, every dollar saved comes to a price. How much is the dollar saved worth, when you’re on a high altitude trek and something goes wrong?
Guides – There are countless mountain guides, who claim to be able to take you to the top of Kilimanjaro. At the end of the day the good mountain guides, don’t work for questionable companies. They don’t wait for a call for a Kilimanjaro trek next month. They are on the mountain all year round and they climb with the company, that gives them the most benefits. Where is the difference between a low budget guide and a top guide? Being a top guide means experience on the mountain. It means good english skills and medical training! The last thing you want to hear on the day of your summit attempt, starting shortly after midnight, “Oh this is so exciting. My first time” and a few minutes later “I think I lost the path”.
Experience – Rarely I meet travellers, who tell me about their Kilimanjaro trek – without mentioning the following phrases “greatest trek”, “hardest thing I have ever done”, “bucket list” , “once in a lifetime” in their storytelling. It is in any sense an intense experience. It’s out of the ordinary for you, so search for an expert. An incomplete packing list, an incomplete gate registration or camp booking is all it takes for your trip to be cancelled. Therefore: book your tour with a company that has experience and who knows what they are doing!
Equipment – There is a saying, “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing”, which I couldn’t put any better. The wrong gear or even broken gear can ruin your trip. However the lower the budget, the higher the chances, that your company can’t afford to fix the holes in the tent. Also make sure that your company checks all your Kilimanjaro mountain gear and don’t take chances with “normally you don’t need”. There is no “normally” in an extreme situation!
Treatment of mountain crew – KIATO registration – The registration with Kilimanjaro Association of Tour Operators. is a very important indication, that the company looks after their guides and porters. The association ensures that all members pay fair wages to the porters and guides. Also members make sure, that all porters are properly clothed for the extreme temperatures. They provide transport, medical assistance, shelter and the park fees for them. Additionally a registered company provides meals for the entire crew and makes sure that porters don’t carry too much.
Should you climb Kilimanjaro the cheap way?
Climbing Kilimanjaro is not a cheap dream to have, but following your dreams can’t be tagged with a price. You want the best experience, many memorable moments? Being able to pat yourself on the back after having climbed the highest peak of Africa.
So on the one side, Kilimanjaro is an investment and you don’t want to be stinted and having to say that your dream blew because of the difference in service. But you also don’t want to think about how long you won’t be able to eat after your luxury trek, because you can’t afford food anymore or work 3 jobs for a year.
Therefore all I can recommend: Book with a company that you trust and will look after you and your needs as well as their staff’s. At Viva Africa Tours we ensure this by most our senior staff having worked their way up from porter, to being a chef to guiding as an assistant until senior guide. If you would like to know more about us or our treks, feel free to contact us!