Comprehensive Insights by Altezza.Travel

 

The variety of Kilimanjaro Climbing packages on offer from basic to luxury and prices quoted from $1,400 to over $7,000 is often overwhelming. Combine that with the fact that there are 250 licensed and hundreds of unlicensed operators in the region and making the right choice becomes a major task.

“How much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro?” is one of the most popular questions we receive to our mailbox everyday. In fact, to understand how the climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro cost is formed many different factors should be taken into consideration.

The Variety of Offers and Cost Information for Climbing Kilimanjaro

The price quoted for a package may often serve as a hint as to what your future climbing experience will be like. Yet, basing your decision only on cost would be a mistake. In fact, Mt Kilimanjaro climbing cost has many hidden, yet essential components.

With personal safety and a lifetime of memories at stake, choosing the cheapest is never a good idea. As a rule, it is impossible to organize a safe and comfortable Kilimanjaro climb for less than $1,400.

On the other hand, one does not necessarily need to pay the $7,000 + for a VIP package to get that extra service that may make all the difference in the world.

In this article we shall spell out how Kilimanjaro climb cost is formed, and how to choose the best offer to fit your budget. The following example is based on a Machame route 7-day “Classic” package for 2 or more climbers. This is by far the most popular option that offers a reasonable (neither a budget deal nor an extravagant affair with hundreds of porters) level of comfort at a reasonable price.

Climbing Kilimanjaro: Components of the Price

The price of a Kilimanjaro climb is made up of two kinds of costs: fixed, i.e. park fees per person, and variable, i.e. transfers and equipment, which are shared between all members of the group and, up to a certain point, decrease as the number of climbers grows.

 

Unless you take the risk of opting for the lowest of offers foregoing most if not all of safety and comfort features normally available, the final price of your climb shall include the costs of the following:

 

Kilimanjaro National Park Fees

Every Mount Kilimanjaro climber is required to pay park fees, which include conservation, camping, rescue and crew fees. On Lemosho and Rongai routes special forest fees are also applicable. It is another key element of Mt Kilimanjaro climb cost.

Be warned that some unethical tour operators deliberately provide misleading information regarding park fees.  You may check the park fees at the official Tanzania National Parks Authority website: http://www.tanzaniaparks.go.tz/images/documents/Tenders/park%20fee%20for%20nr%20&%20tz%20residents.pdf.

Total Park Fees, depending on route and number of days, will amount to between US$800 and 1,100 (all calculations and prices henceforth are given in US$).

Never trust claims that it is possible to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and avoid fees by bypassing ranger posts. It is simply impossible to reach Uhuru Peak avoiding any encounters with park rangers. Dozens of those who attempt this are caught every year.

Furthermore, it is dangerous. Bypassing established official routes where climbing permits are checked at each ranger post will deprive you of the possibility of receiving timely assistance  from the rangers should such a necessity arise.

Lastly, it is unlawful. Trespassing on National Parks is considered a serious offence in Tanzania. The best-case scenario entails being deprived of the chance of ever experiencing the wonders of Tanzania again after being deported and stiff fines. Imprisonment is also not to be ruled out.

 

ESTIMATED PARK FEES, MACHAME ROUTE, PER CLIMBER IN A GROUP OF TWO

Fee payable

Climber/day

Climber/per trip (7 days)

Conservation fee

70

490

Camping fee

50

350

Rescue fee (paid per trip)

20

20

Crew fee (13 people)

13

91

VAT 18%

                  ----------

171

OVERALL PARK FEES

120

1122

 

Climbing Kilimanjaro Crew Wages

The next important component of Kilimanjaro climb cost is the crew wages. While the rates paid (and charged to the client) may vary, all reputable Tanzanian climbing outfitters have wage systems for their climbing crews. A guide usually receives USD 20-40 per day, a cook – USD 10-15, a porter – USD 7-10, adding to the total cost to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. The final total payroll will therefore depend on the size of the crew necessary to provide the level of comfort expected on the climb. Tips, determined by the clients experience during the climb, are also appreciated.

On the other hand, many budget operators keep their rates low by relying on high unemployment rates which allow them to staff their crews with those willing to work with no pay guaranteed apart from tips left by the client. These crews will more often than not have a high rate of unqualified personnel.

 

ESTIMATED PAYROLL PER CLIMB

Expedition member

Required number

Daily wage (US$)

Total per climb (US$)

Line total salary

Chief Guide

1

25

175

175

Assistant Guide

1

20

140

140

Cook

1

15

105

105

Porter

8

8

 

448

Porter-waiter

1

8

56 +10[1]

66

Camp-master

1

12

84

84

Total crew salary

1018

Total per climber

509

Supplies and Logistics

Most climbs sold by reputable outfitters are packages that are inclusive of supplies and logistics, such as transfers and re-supplies, a minimum of three meals and water and many other small but essential items, which add to the total cost of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Approximate costs that are fairly standard for the industry in Tanzania are:

$55/climber

Amortization Costs

A typical climbing package will also include such equipment as sleeping and mess tents; cookers and kitchen utensils; crockery and cutlery and other essential items. As reliable gear means not only comfort but also safety, stocks have to be renewed on a regular basis. Thus, amortization costs for the equipment will be included in the final Kilimanjaro climb cost.

Average amortization costs are:

$50/climber

Indirect Taxes

All Tanzanian businesses are subject to a variety of taxes. Licensed tour operators also pay for a number of licenses on a yearly basis. These taxes and fees are eventually passed on to the tourist, making the cost to climb Mt Kilimanjaro higher.

Estimated indirect taxes:

$60/climber

Climbing Comfort

Trekking presents certain physical challenges, especially to those not accustomed to it. Having a degree of comfort during the climb in order to make the best of resting time goes a long way towards assuring successful summiting.

Sleeping bags, improved mountain diet that includes re-supplies of fresh ingredients, satellite phones, oxygen for emergencies, etc. are all part of a successful climb, and increase your Kilimanjaro climb cost.

The cost of these little perks averages at:

$50/climber

Safety

Though climbing Kilimanjaro does not call for any specialized training or skills, mountaineering is an inherently dangerous activity. HAPE and HACE (High Altitude Pulmonary and Cerebral Edema respectively) should never be discounted.

With that in mind, whenever one climbs the mountain with a responsible operator certain costs covering safety measures are included in the final climbing Mount Kilimanjaro cost.

For example, we at Altezza Travel conduct safety workshops for our guides every four months. Each of our guides is expected to pass the Wilderness First Responder/First Aid test. The costs of training for all of our staff are covered by Altezza Travel.

Besides this, each of the expeditions organized by Altezza is supplied with emergency oxygen, oximeter and tonometer. A log of medical checks conducted twice a day is kept for each climber so as to enable the guides to make informed decisions about the client’s fitness for further assent. In emergencies a client shall be transported from Kilimanjaro to a hospital at no extra charge.                                                                                                                                                                                  

Estimated costs of climbing safety add-ons:

$40/climber

Accommodation Before and After Kilimanjaro Climb 

Most Kilimanjaro climbing packages on offer include accommodation before and after the climb.  Notwithstanding Tanzania being a developing country, local hotel rates are among the highest. A night in a reasonable 3-star hotel in Moshi (the most logical starting point) will cost $100-120 if booked directly or $80-90 if it is included in your climbing package. Therefore, accommodation increase your cost of climbing Kilimanjaro.

Estimated costs of accommodation before and after the climb:

$160

Operator’s Commission

Commissions added by Tanzanian tour operators to the Kilimanjaro climb cost generally fall within the 15-35% range.

Estimated average commission of a tour operator – 15-35%

Overall Cost of a Kilimanjaro Climb

 

Service

Total expenses of the expedition         (in US$)

Price for one climber                       (in US$)

1.       All park fees

1772

886

2.      Crew salaries

1018

509

3.      Expedition arrangements (meals, water, tents, cutlery, crockery etc.)

110

55

4.      Amortization costs

100

50

5.      Indirect taxes

120

60

6.      Reasonable comfort add-ons

100

50

7.      Necessary safety add-ons

80

40

8.     Accommodation before and after the climb

160

80

9.      Average tour operator commission

25%

25%

10.  TOTAL cost of the trip in US$

4325

2162

 

As you can see, the price that one can reasonably expect to receive in a quote for Machame 7-day climb is around $2162 per climber in a group of two.

If you receive a lower quotation, it might be best to enquire about the cost-saving items. If, for example, your operator provides accommodation of a somewhat lower standard and, therefore, cost and you are ok with it, then it is a good way to save money.

If, on the other hand, corners are being cut where safety is concerned in hopes that no emergencies shall arise, then it would be prudent to reconsider booking with such an operator. It is definitely not the best approach to cut your climbing Kilimanjaro cost.

And, of course, if the price quoted is significantly lower than that calculated above, then there is a very real chance of falling victim to con artists and loosing your deposit.

 

Pitfalls of Booking Cheap (below $1,400) 

Inferior Quality Equipment

Owing to the high cost of quality vehicles and equipment, those used by many tour operators, both licensed and unlicensed, are either of inferior quality or poorly maintained. Being stuck by the side of the road on the way to the park gate since your transfer vehicle has broken down and there is no immediate replacement is not a good way to begin your climb. And not being able to rest enough during the climb just because your tent is leaky or the sleeping bag is not suitable for the temperatures encountered could, in turn, put and end to your dream of climbing Kilimanjaro. In an attempt to cut climbing Mt Kilimanjaro cost, budget tour operators often disregard the importance of maintaining their equipment in a good state.

Unprofessional “part-time” Guides

Your guides’ (and that of support staff) experience and medical training are what you shall rely on for your safety during the climb. And their general knowledge about the local nature, customs, history as well as the team’s spirit could add and extra dimension to the way you will remember this time for the rest of your life.

Providing such professional crews has its impact on your cost to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. Quality climbing outfitters pay for training for their staff and keeping a mutually agreeable working relationship is impossible without providing the crew members with attractive pay.

Budget operators, on the other hand, keep their rates low in part by staffing their crews with those who can not expect decent pay owing to lack of training. Such teams are mostly thrown together on the spur of the moment and interpersonal conflicts often arise amongst members who have never worked together before. Saving on the team proficiency is therefore not a recommended way to reduce cost of climbing Kilimanjaro.

Inadequate Safety Policies

Mix the low-budget crews’ lack of training with the lack of monitoring and safety equipment and the result are the 5-10 fatalities that happen on Kilimanjaro climbs every year.

Altezza Travel guides have witnessed many expeditions broken off when there were no emergency oxygen supplies available to counteract the effects of altitude sickness. Lack of constant monitoring of the clients’ physical state and insufficient guide experience have in many cases been responsible for failed summiting attempts when having the foresight to offer the client an extra day for acclimatization would have meant a successful climb.

We are proud to say that our crews have time and again been in the fortunate position to provide emergency assistance with supplies, equipment and medical care to other outfitters on Kilimanjaro.  

High Risk of Fraud

As with any other business transaction one must beware of fraud when booking a cheap Kilimanjaro climb. The probability of being conned increases as the price decreases. Neither last-minute cancellations with no refund of deposits made, nor simply discontinuing communication and disappearing are unheard of.

Another common scenario is being stranded on the mountain during the climb with no supplies unless “an immediate additional payment for services not explicitly included in the package booked” is made. Thus, it is better exerting some prudency when the cost to climb Kilimanjaro looks incredibly low and attractive.

Mistreatment of Porters

As has been demonstrated earlier, it is impossible to provide adequate service during a Kilimanjaro climb below a certain price. Unfortunately, one of the ways budget operators still manage to do so is by short-changing their climbing crews.

Low- or no- wages are all too common in such cases. The members of these crews undertake the climb in hopes of receiving tips (which, actually, are the expected norm in the industry). However, the tips paid by the client are often not distributed fairly among all staff.

Providing outright inadequate food supplies (as little as one meal per day) for the crew is yet another way some budget operators  reduce climbing Mt Kilimanjaro cost keep their rates low.

Being from disadvantaged backgrounds and receiving inadequate pay from their employers often means that many of the porters cannot afford adequate clothing for the climb. Socially responsible tour operators will invariably provide them assistance in order to ensure their safety. This, of course, is impossible to do when the climb budget is already constrained, leading to cases of exposure among porters.

Thus, choosing to book with a reputable climbing outfitter means that all the support staff whose job it is to help you fulfill your dream of climbing to the roof of Africa are properly compensated and treated fairly.

Environmental Impact

Lack of proper training and comprehensive conservation policies and practices that are commonplace with budget and/or unlicensed operators are responsible for most of the environmental impact that the industry has had on Kilimanjaro. If you feel as strongly as we do about conservation, then please do book with like-minded businesses.

Overall, be hope that we helped you to understand how much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro. If you have any further questions on how climbing Mt Kilimanjaro cost is formed – feel free to contact us anytime by dropping a mail to [email protected]

 

 


 


[1] Porter-waiter carries the luggage and equipment during the day and waits at your table during breakfast, lunch and dinner. For his help he receives extra USD 10 per expedition.
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