Choosing a Kilimanjaro operator
There are many different ways to book your Kilimanjaro climb, and some of them are far better than others. here are a few trips to help you avoid some of the obvious pitaflls of booking a Kilimanjaro climb of a lifetime
This is going to be an expensive trip no matter how you do it and not everyone who begins the Kilimanjaro climb actually makes it to the summit. If you want to make sure you are getting a good deal with an experienced operator then there are a few things to consider before deciding to actually make the booking.
Book from home or after arriving in Tanzania?
The vast majority of people will book their Kilimanjaro climb long before they get on their plane to Tanzania, but you can actually book once you arrive, although there are some things to be careful of.
Advantages to booking in Tanzania:
The only advantage of booking your climb on arrival in Tanzania is cost saving. There are literally hundreds of small operators offering cut price and extreme budget trips, some way below cost, and if you have the time to spare, and you feel confident navigating your way through a maze of confusing names and faces, then you will definitely save a few dollars, perhaps even a few hundred dollars.
Disadvantages to booking in Tanzania:
The main disadvantage of booking your climb on arrival is that you will have absolutely no idea who you are talking to or dealing with. Tanzania is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and you can take nothing at face value. Local Tanzanian outfitters have a terrible reputation for sharp practice, cost cutting scams and the blatant exploitation of thier guiding and support staff. Out of some 300 listed outfitters in and around the main towns of Moshi and Arusha, there are perhaps ten that can be considered legitimate. The remainder are fringe outfitters that use low grade guiding staff and offer extremely poor services.
The rule of thumb is….you pay peanuts you get monkeys!
Some key things to look for:
- Spend a few days around Moshi talking to some different guides to see who you feel comfortable with and compare prices.
- Take advice from other travellers and climbers.
- Check out the equipment they use. Are the tents in good condition?
- Make sure your cheap climb will have the proper size crew. It’s possible to save a bit of money by hiring a smaller crew, but you might regret this on the summit day when one or two people sucumb to AMS and the whole group has to descent because of too few guides.
- Make sure when you sign in that you have signed in for the number of days you have paid for. It is a common scam to sell an eight day trip, but pay the national parks for six days, and then to push as many pax as possible to sucumb to AMS within the six days to save on all the parks fees you have paid for your guides, porters and yourself.
- Be certain to use a company with an actual building and address. There are hundred of touts and scalpers selling climbs as middlemen. These independent salespeople are known as flycatchers because they make money by taking a commission by introducing naïve tourists to the suspect companies. You don’t need this service and the commission will be added to your final price.
Booking your climb before getting to Tanzania
There are many ways to book your Kilimanjaro climb before leaving home, and again, there are some things to be very careful about. If you think you know exactly what you want already there are some ways to book your climb that might even save you a few dollars in the process, but for a trip like this you might regret.
Some key things to look for:
- Book from someone who’s actually climbed Kilimanjaro themselves. Some travel agents and even sporting goods chains can show you a brochure and book your climb, but this isn’t like booking a generic trip to Hawaii or some other mass destination. Mountaineering is a serious undertaking and someone with their own experience will know all the right questions to ask you before locking in your trip.
- Book from someone who can help you prepare for your climb after the trip is set. The information on this site just scratches the surface of the whole experience. You are going to have questions about your preparation and it’s important to actually have someone to ask.
- Book from someone who knows the options involved. There are many ways of actually putting together a package, so someone who knows the area can recommend a safari or other activities you might be interested in after flying halfway round the world.
- Don’t book based on price. What one website says is a price compared to another website is not the same thing. You need to think about guide to client ratio, number of porters, type of equipment, quality of the cooking, past experience. All of these can vary wildly between each company. If you want a great trip, you are unlikely to get it if you are determined to pay under US$1 500. Remember that if you pay below cost your outfitter will have to find some way to cut costs, and usually this is at your or his porters expense, probably both.
Booking with BootsnAll World Adventures
All the information on this site will be useful for planning any trip to Kilimanjaro, even if you have booked or will book through another company. But if you haven’t chosen an operator yet we invite you to get a quote for climbing Kilimanjaro today at 1-866-549-7614. If you don’t have time, fill out a Climbing Kilimanjaro Form and our Tanzania expert will put together a proposal for you. Here are some reasons why you might book with BootsnAll World Adventures.
By Peter Baxter
November 29th, 2007