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Scams on Kilimanjaro – How Guides Rip Off Porters

Don’t get me wrong, Kilimanjaro is a wonderful mountain to climb. I encourage travelers to visit Tanzania and attempt to climb Africa’s highest, most famous, well-known mountain. It’s a great experience and most people enjoy it.

However, with something wonderful, there always seems to be a bit of a dark side. Money corrupts people. In a very poor country, that doesn’t have much – if any – regulation, it does let a few scams slip by the novice climber.

The biggest problem on Kilimanjaro are generally the guides, the people who are hired to take you up and down the mountain. Most of these scams have been done for years – and there is a well worn science in it.

Scam 1 – Pay to Play
This scam has the least effect on tourists. The Kilimanjaro guide makes the porters pay to be part of the climbing group. Here is how it works. The porters are hired by the guide, usually at the gate or in Moshi town. The porters are contract workers and often, do not work for the company directly. The guide tells the porters, who are suppose to be paid between $6 to $8 per day, they must give half their wages in order to be part of the group. You would think that most porters would reject this.

However, most of the porters are betting on the tip they MIGHT receive. Since the tips from tourists can SOMETIMES be twice to three times the amount of the wage, the porters choose to work and see what happens. Sometimes they win, and sometimes they loose.

The porters don’t report the guides to the companies because the companies don’t listen to the porters. And the porters want the opportunity again to work for the guides. No questions asked.

What can you do a tourist? Ask the company what it pays the porters. Ask the porters on the mountain what they receive per day. If you find that they are both saying something different, ask the guide and the company when you get down the mountain – and see who is right and wrong.

Check out these indie travel tips for Kilimanjaro.