Budgeting: how much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro?
The most significant cost of your holiday in Tanzania is the cost of the Kilimanjaro trek itself. The absolute cheapest trek is around US$1000. To get this price, however, you would probably have to travel directly to Tanzania and negotiate with various agencies, look to join a group, and opt for the cheapest route (Marangu, probably) and the shortest number of days (5). As soon as you start looking at a route other than Marangu, opt for more days (highly advisable, or your body probably won’t have enough time to acclimatise), or insist on walking without other trekkers, or go with anything but the cheapest (and thus, probably, worst!) operator – then count on it costing a good deal more. A decent trek, should, to be honest, cost double this – US$2000-3000.
Once on the mountain, however, you won’t need to pay for anything else throughout the trek, except for the occasional chocolate bar or beer which you can buy at the ranger’s huts on the way (though don’t forget tipping!!!).
Costs away from the mountain
After your trek, the main costs of your trip will be:
flights, visas, inoculations before you go, food and accommodation (outside of that provided by your trekking agency, of course), and any other activities that you plan to do before/after the trek such as going on safari or visiting Zanzibar.
Away from the mountain and the other national parks, by far the most expensive place in Tanzania is Zanzibar. Elsewhere, you’ll find transport, food and accommodation, the big three day-to-day expenses of the traveller’s life, are pretty cheap in Tanzania and particularly in Moshi and Arusha:
Accommodation in Tanzania
Basic tourist accommodation in Tanzania starts at around £5/US$7.50. You can get cheaper, non-tourist accommodation, though this is often both sleazy and unhygienic and should only be considered as a last resort. We have not reviewed these cheap hotels individually in the book, but we do give some indication of where they can be found in the introduction to the accommodation sections in the city chapters. At the other end of the spectrum, there are hotel rooms and luxury safari camps going for anything over US$2000 per night in the high season.
Food in Tanzania
Food in Tanzania can be dirt cheap if you stick to street sellers plying their wares at all hours of the day – though dirt is often what you get on the food itself too, with hygiene standards not always of the highest. Still, even in a clean and decent budget restaurant the bill should still start at only £3/US$4.80.
Public transport in Tanzania
Public transport is cheap in Tanzania, though it could be said you get what you pay for: dilapidated buses, potholed roads, inadequate seating and narcoleptic drivers do not a pleasant journey make, but this is the reality of public transport, Tanzanian-style. Then again, at around £1/US$1.60 per hour for local buses and dalla-dallas (the local minibuses), it seems churlish to complain. That said, given the appalling number of accidents on Tanzanian roads (they say that after malaria and AIDS, road accidents are the biggest killer in the country), if your budget can stretch to it do consider spending it on transport: extra safety and comfort are available on the luxury buses, and at only a slightly higher price.