Why is there such a difference between pricing when it comes to Kilimanjaro operators? There isn’t information readily available on the difference in pricing. So how do you choose an operator to climb Kilimanjaro?
First of all, there are three types of operators on Kilimanjaro. The luxury operators, the mid-range operators, and the budget operators.
THE LUXURY OPERATORS
The luxury operators are just that, about as glamorous as you can get while hiking on Kilimanjaro. Any company that charges $4,000 or more can be labeled a luxury operator. How do they distinguish themselves and how do they justify the high prices? For starters, they provide extra amenities such as portable showers, wine, and fancier food. So you’ll still be doing the same amount of work to climb up Kilimanjaro with a luxury tour operator, there will just be some extra goodies along the way.
These luxuries—especially the shower—can certainly be very nice. For those with cash to spare, this is a good option. We do, however, find that most people cannot justify spending the extra money on these benefits. Climbing Kilimanjaro tends to be fairly pricey without adding hundreds or even thousands to the tab just for a handful of luxuries. One could even argue that ‘roughing it’ is part of what makes the experience so great.
Also, with luxury operators, you are paying more for their marketing, matching tents, uniforms, and other items. Think of it like Gilette. You pay more for the razors because they have to pay famous people to market their razors, vs Target brand which does little to no marketing and has the exact same quality razor.
The Budget Operators
Juxtapose budget operators and luxury operators and you are on the opposite end of the cost and experience spectrum. Every company gets charged the same for permits, tax, etc. Where the budget operators choose to skimp in order to charge less is in their overall experience. When we say luxury makes the most out of roughing it, budget operators choose to focus on the word ‘roughing ‘.
How do they keep their prices lower? They do it by providing used and tattered tents that the mid-range operators have deemed unusable and unrepairable. We have even seen blue tarps in lieu of tents. They also poorly outfit their porters and guides with ill-fitting, used, and unacceptable clothing for the extreme Kilimanajro environment. They pay them less and even feed them less, sometimes just once a day on the mountain.
Furthermore, they do not offer hot meals, or any safety features like daily health checks to monitor their clients as they ascend the mountain. Yes, you’ll save a few bucks, but at what cost? Your health, long-term issues, or even death. We cannot stress enough that going with a budget operator is not a wise decision.
Finally, we will discuss mid-range operators. There are several mid-range operators on Mount Kilimanjaro and they all offer about the same service. Kilimanjaro Sunrise is a mid-range operator. Where we differ is in the quality of our service, staff, food, and equipment.
Kilimanjaro Sunrise has the highest guide-to-client ratio on the mountain one guide for every two clients. On summit night we also bring along our senior porters so it is one client for one to two staff members. If you really want to summit (and who doesn’t?) they will even carry your day pack for you. Budget operators may have only one guide for three to four clients. This is dangerous.
We want to give personal attention to each client making for a more pleasant and, more importantly, safer experience. Our guides are Wilderness First Responder certified and are medically trained. Our guides continuously attend advanced training. The mountain crews work as a team and the majority of them have worked together for several years. Prior to COVID, they would climb Kilimanjaro up to three times a month! Some have summited over 300 times. With this type of experience, they have dealt with everything the mountain, clients, the weather, or anything else that be thrown at them. They are well versed in getting you safely to the summit and back.
We offer AMREF Flying Doctors evacuation insurance free of charge to all of our clients. Read more here: https://kilimanjarosunrise.com/kilimanjaro-sunrise-offers-amref-flying-doctors-helicopter-evacuation-free-of-charge/
We give daily health checks and log the results of both your temperature and blood oxygen saturation levels.
Additionally, we provide three hot meals a day made with plenty of locally sourced, non-GMO food—meat, vegetables, grains, and fruit. Other companies make meals primarily with low cost, less nutritious ingredients like a powdered sauce for their rice and pasta. They also give box lunches that are tasteless and unhealthy. We only serve hot meals except for the first day since our staff can’t check-in to the park, pack the gear, and make lunch all at the same time. We want to make sure you eat well, and you will.
We also provide high-quality brand-name equipment for our sleeping and dining tents. Tents on Kilimanjaro are heavily used and must be replaced constantly. Lower priced companies will purchase low-quality locally made tents and repair and reuse older tents as long as possible. Old, poor-quality tents can translate into uncomfortable nights. The tents we use have been tested on Everest, If you watched 14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible on Netflix, they are the same ones they used. See here: https://youtu.be/k4-R0eBwzoc and here: https://youtu.be/U2dpD-jAdAg and here: https://youtu.be/cxZopwU1_8g
No detail is too small for us. Our meticulous attention to detail shows in everything we do, from washing your 3-liter bladders daily to making sure the private toilet is on a flat surface so you do not tip over while using it. We will make sure we do everything we can to make your experience amazing!
Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project
Porter abuse is a big problem on the mountain, most Kilimanjaro operators cut costs by taking advantage of porters as we mentioned above. We do not, we are members of the Kilimanjaro Porter Assistance Project (KPAP). KPAPis an independent organization that monitors operators’ treatment of staff. We voluntarily submit to this constant evaluation so that our clients know that the staff that serves them well is likewise treated well by us. Our guides and porters receive a living wage.
Since we are members, the better guides and porters want to work for us. We reward our guides and porters for their efforts. The level of care that goes into the welfare of our staff will increase our costs. It is one of our fundamental principles—to treat our entire staff fairly and humanely and ensure they receive regular work. Clients will see the difference with our guides and porters while they are climbing Kilimanjaro.
Ultimately, all of the things we do to make your Kilimanjaro experience awesome inevitably increase the cost of our climbs. Even though we are a mid-range operator we feel that our service, staff, and equipment are comparable with those of luxury operators. You’ll immediately notice a difference on the mountain and if you don’t, let us know and we will address it. We are always willing to listen and improve our service where ever we can.