Booking your Kilimanjaro trek
In 1991, the park authorities made it compulsory for all Kilimanjaro trekkers to arrange their trek up Kilimanjaro through a licensed agency. Furthermore, they insist that all Kilimanjaro trekkers must be accompanied throughout their walk by a guide supplied by the agency.
When these laws were first introduced, it was for a while still feasible to sneak in without paying. Back then, many were the stories that arose about trekkers who managed to climb Kilimanjaro independently, tales that were often embellished with episodes of encounters with wild animals and even wilder park rangers.
Fortunately, the authorities have tightened up security and clamped down on non-payees, so these tedious tales are now few in number. Don’t try to climb Kilimanjaro without a guide or without paying the proper fees. It’s very unlikely you’ll succeed and all you’re doing is freeloading – indeed, stealing isn’t too strong a word – from one of the poorest countries in the world. Yes, climbing Kilimanjaro is expensive. But the costs of maintaining a mountain that big are high. Besides, whatever price you pay, trust us, it’s worth it.
So once you’ve chosen who is going to join you on this trip of a lifetime up Africa’s highest mountain, the next thing to decide is which agency is going to get your business.
With whom should you book your Kilimanjaro trek?
Booking your Kilimanjaro trek with the right agency is perhaps the single most important factor in determining the success or otherwise of your trek. After all, they are the ones who arrange everything, supply the equipment, and designate somebody to be your guide to take you up to the Roof of Africa. So take your time choosing one. Because unless you are a guide, porter, guidebook writer or just plain daft, undertaking a Kilimanjaro trek will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s an expensive one too – so make sure that you get it right.
It really does pay to do as much research as possible when it comes to choosing the right company. Choosing the first one that pops up on google is rarely a good idea. Indeed, in our experience, the companies that rank highly on google are rarely the best companies for organising treks. They are simply the companies that are best at getting their website highly ranked on google.
What you have to remember is that there is no single agency that is best for every trekker. For example, some agencies are good at handling large groups of trekkers. While others are good at looking after single trekkers and don’t charge them a premium to have their own tent or hotel room. Some agencies offer luxury-only climbs, where all your whims are catered for. Others operate budget treks, allowing those even with fairly limited means to climb. Some are good at looking after porters and mountain crew. Others less so. Some are good at answering your questions before your trek. Others are pretty rubbish at this, but actually do organise a decent Kilimanjaro trek.
Obviously, we think the first place to look is our guidebook. In it we go into great detail about booking with an agency. We advise you on what questions to ask any company and look at what your trek package should include. What’s more, we also provide a comprehensive review of the Kilimanjaro trek agencies, both in your home country and in Tanzania.
We also look at the advantages of booking your trek before you arrive in Tanzania (which, in the age of the internet, almost everyone does now). Or wait until you arrive in Tanzania and book your Kilimanjaro trek there (which is usually cheaper, but riskier and takes time).
If you require further help, do contact us. We can offer you free advice on who we think you should go with depending on the details about yourselves and what you want from your trek. The KPAP website, the charity that looks after the welfare of the porters and crew who work on Kilimanjaro, is worth a look too. The usual review websites (Tripadvisor etc) may also be worth a look, though we are always a little sceptical about them (perhaps wrongly). Because we feel they are too easy to manipulate. Worth a look, perhaps -but with a pinch of salt to hand!