Value your life Safety comes first when climbing any mountain. Therefore, your experience, personal physiology and health condition must be considered in the choice of route and number of days. In general, spending more days for acclimatizing allows you to enjoy more of nature and increase the probability of success.
Your Kilimanjaro guides
Our Kilimanjaro Head and Assistant guides are licensed and professionally trained to take you safely to Uhuru peak, and back. Our Head guides have an experience of 85-155+ successful summits, First Aid experience and some hold advanced WFR qualification. We work with a handpicked crew of experienced Guides, Cooks and Porters who for the past 5 years. These are the people involved in your tourism experience and they contribute to the quality of experience, link you to Kilimanjaro culture and provide that extra motivation, when needed during the expedition, for you to reach the summit and come back – safely.
Kilimanjaro porters are the heart and soul of the mountain. There are few experiences as humbling as being passed by porters on a climb. They carry food, water and equipment to ensure a comfortable climb and increased summit success rate.
Truthfully Tour Operator – Verify licenses – Tour operators are regulated by the Government and are required to maintain proper licenses to operate tours up Kilimanjaro. The following is a list of requirements to be a licensed tour operator for Mount Kilimanjaro:
Certificate of Incorporation – Issued by Govt. of Tanzania
Certificate of Registration for Value Added Tax (VAT) – Tanzania Revenue Authority
Taxpayer Identification Number – Tanzania Revenue Authority
TALA License Documentation for Mountain Climbing – Tanzania Tourist Licensing Board
TALA License Documentation for Tour Operator – Tanzania Tourist Licensing Board
Ask your tour operators to send copies of these documents for your verification. (Make sure to check the validity & dates of the documents). I’ve had an experience where a tour operator sent me a copy of an expired license. Upon further inquiry, the tour operator sent an updated license that was issued the day before. It goes to show that it keeps the tour operators in check by asking to check this information
Ease of doing business – Your interaction with the tour operator during the booking process will be a good indication of how well they run their Kilimanjaro treks. I assessed this in a few areas.
- Responsiveness – One of the most important traits for working with any company is how responsive they are. They should be easily assessable via multiple communication channels (phone, email, chat etc.) and quick to respond to messages.
- Friendliness – How friendly are their representatives? Are they fun to speak with? It’s not something you normally think of, but some tour operators that have achieved a decent level of success and have become a bit entitled, losing their focus on being customer friendly and focused more on getting customers up and off the mountain quickly so they can take up the next batch.
- Payment Terms – How easy is it to pay for their services? For larger adventures, tour operators typically require a deposit along with advanced payment of the balance prior to arriving. Some tour operators don’t have the option of paying via a credit card and require a costly bank wire transfer. If they do accept credit card payments some charge a transaction fee of 3-8% to pay with a credit card. Some tour operators will allow you to pay your tour in full with cash upon arrival (not the optimal solution for travelers wanting to minimize the amount of cash they are carrying while traveling).
Responsible Tourism – Beyond just how a tour company treats its customers, it’s important to find an operator that also treats its employees, the community and the environment well. As travelers to Kilimanjaro, we vote with our dollars and it is important to support and reward companies that are doing the right things within their company and within their community. This one is not as clear-cut as the other points I’ve listed, but can be gauged by taking a look at the organizations the tour operator has elected to join. Find out if they are part of any organizations that support the fair treatment of porters, find out about local community programs they support and ask about what their company does to be eco-friendly.
- Finding a Kilimanjaro tour operator that meets all of the above criteria will help ensure that you have a great time on your trip while also feeling good about the tour operator you are supporting and the impact they are making. While it takes a significant amount of time and effort to fully vet a Kilimanjaro Tour Operator, it will all pay off in the end when you are standing at the summit of the highest mountain in Africa.