Please help me climb Kili on a volunteer's budget...
January 17, 2008 6:59 AM   Subscribe

Kilimanjaro-filter. I want to climb it. I don't want to pay $3k pp. Help, please.

A friend and I are looking to do a Kili climb in mid-to-late March. Problem is we're a bit awash in the number of tour operators, options, and the big swinging price-range. We will likely be coming to Kili from Johannesburg, SA (returning to the same).

Flights right now look to be around $1k US and the cheapest climbs I've found are around $1.5k, and 2.5 is about .5 higher than my budget. I don't want to skimp on the operator we go with, but I would like to get the best deal for our money. We can't do a very long trip - only 5-6 days on mountain. I can't fathom paying $2k plus for just the climb alone.

I've seen packages from SA for under $2k US including flights, but they look to be budget-operators going up the Coca-Cola route. We're both in great shape, experienced backcountry / climbers (and familiar with our acclimation rates), and would like to do something a bit more off the beaten path, but still a relatively fast climb.

Anyone got any experience with this? I only found 1-2 previous questions on it. I'm particularly interested in what operators you went with, what your impression was of them, what route you took, and how much you dropped on the whole thing.

Yes, I know we are late season. Yes, I know our timeframe for climbing will limit our summit attempts. Yes, I know I don't want to go cheap on a budget operator.

posted by allkindsoftime to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I just got back this week from Kilimanjaro, excluding airfare my actual climb cost about $1,000 (hard to know exactly as we did a lot of other things as well).

We went with the Marangu Hotel and did the Marangu Route (the Coca-Cola route). They guide other routes at similar rates. Doing the trip the "hard way" only means you have to provide food for yourself. if you take dehydrated food the guides will still boil water for you in whenever you want it.

So the costs: $525 each in park fees (for 5 days, a bit more for 6 days)
$195 each for the guided climb (there were 4 of us and we had three guides and four porters . . .sounds excessive, but it's not)
$30 each in food
$90 a night for hotel on either end of trip (this is per double room, includes breakfasts and dinners. Its also a great place to stay.
about $100 to get all of us to and from the airport.

If you need to rent some gear they will also rent it to you for a nominal charge. They are a fairly inexpensive outfit but I wouldn't say cheap. The guiding crew itself was knowledgeable and incredibly friendly. The company took care of just about everything.

if you have any other questions send me a message
posted by nameless.k at 7:36 AM on January 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

I also did the Marangu route in 1991. At the time I had been on an expedition in Tanzania and had a working visa - which reduced the cost of the trip. I do not know the current visa situation.

You sound like you have a lot more high altitude trekking experience than I did at the time - my overall advice would be this however: by all means shop around for the best route and the best deal - but do not try to economise on every cost. For example if you are told that the route normally takes 6 days but you could do it in 5 - take 6. Remember that porters, etc will expect (and probably richly deserve) a tip at the end of the enterprise.

I remember being told that on the Marangu route the chances of having altitude related problems were inversely related to age - those over 60 take their time while it is young people on a tight budget who get AMS. If you feel you would be on too tight a budget then save a little more.
posted by rongorongo at 7:49 AM on January 17, 2008

Remember that porters, etc will expect (and probably richly deserve) a tip at the end of the enterprise.

I'll be trying in a few months too. Sorry for piggybacking, but how did you handle tipping? How much? This article advises to tip porters directly, not through the guide. Do you agree?

Kilimanjaro post-climb survey, if you have time afterwards.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:27 AM on January 17, 2008

Give every person their money directly. You can pool your group funds and then after the climb go around shaking hands and handing out each individual's tip.

We did 5 days and the typical tip went like this (this is total, not from each climber):
Guide: $50US
Asst. Guide: $40US
Porters: $25

You can obviously give a little more.
posted by nameless.k at 9:39 AM on January 17, 2008

Also, why are you flying into johanessburg? Internal flights within africa are really expensive, and that is going to drive up the cost of your tour. Try to find a flight into Dar Es Salaam or Nairobi. (Both are driving distance from Kili. Dar is closer, but has fewer flights.)
posted by Kololo at 1:00 PM on January 17, 2008

Response by poster: I have to be in Joburg for my work on either side of our trip. Nairobi seems to be lower cost than Dar so far, I've been looking at both.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:40 PM on January 17, 2008

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