LIFE IS BETTER
IN HIKING BOOTS
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go."
- T.S ELIOT
At Kilimanjaro Climbing Tours, our journey began as tourists. Our experience was cathartic, but it was also somewhat disappointing. Juxtaposed with the incredible natural beauty and life changing experience, was a feeling that both the mountain itself and the local community that support the climb were poorly cared for.
While ascending the mountain we spoke with many local guides and porters about their livelihoods. We learned how often the guides and porters climb and how little compensation they receive for their efforts ($4-$8 per day). We found out that the load each porter carries is not based on body weight or gender and realized how close to the edge they exist with no health care or injury support.
Our final straw was being informed how desperately the entire support team relies on gratuity instead of fair compensation. Every guide and porter spend a week under load simply hoping they will be compensated fairly, with no guarantee!
To pad their profits, guide companies essentially "pass the buck" to their climbers on the final day on the mountain. They state that the standard is to tip 100% of the daily rate in a very awkward "tipping ceremony" that left our entire group uncomfortable. The amazing experience was somewhat tainted by a sense that we had summited the mountain while taking advantage of the very individuals who enabled our success.
Our team members are American and Tanzanian, with well over 1,000 cumulative climbs. Our guides have vast experience on every route the mountain offers, with some of our more experienced guides having summited more than 200 times each! When it comes to value, ours is thoroughly invested in our people, and our 95% success rate is our dividend.
We strive to share the incredible experience that is Mount Kilimanjaro with as many people as possible, while also creating a sustainable business that respects our community.
We lead from the front by placing others first, both our customers and our support team. Without either component the industry fails, thus we work hard to ensure that everyone involved completes each trip with a sense of gratitude.
How do we do this?
We ensure that our clients are the most informed in the industry through open lines of communication and quick response times. Total transparency is a key factor in building trust, so we work hard to avoid any surprises. When a client books with us, they climb with our team, nothing is subcontracted out. Furthermore, unlike other companies, every cost is included in the final price. The only unplanned costs any client will incur is if they elect to rent additional equipment upon arrival. Also, unlike many guide companies, your first AND last days accommodations are covered in your quoted price. You will not be stuck trying to sort out accommodations for your first night back after a quick shower in an hourly hotel room.
At Kilimanjaro Climbing Tours, we found it to be a disagreeable experience to tip in an uncomfortable ceremony. Instead of paying a half salary to our team and compelling our exhausted climbers to come out of pocket for the other half, we pay our support team adequately from the start, as it should be done. Our approach avoids any sense of uncomfortable obligation to our climbers and provides financial assurance to the team members who support the expedition. If a climber does wish to tip a specific guide or porter, all we ask is that it be done in a private manner.
Porters and Guides
One of the driving factors for opening Kilimanjaro Climbing Tours was to establish the concept of fair trade in the local climbing industry. As a service industry in a country with few protections in place for workers, guiding services are frequently predatory in nature.
One of the first things we establish is a health savings plan for our guides and porters
No tip ambiguity
Experienced based raises
Smaller, or occasionally female porters, are assigned weight equal to their larger, stronger counterparts, and judged partially despite their physical disadvantages. Instead of placing an arbitrary 15 kilogram per person weight limit on our porters, we distribute weight by body percentage, never more than 20% of an individuals body weight.