By on April 4, 2016 in Adventure, Kilimanjaro, Travel, Trekking with 7 Comments

Money, Money, Money

We live and climb in a competitive world. You can attempt to summit Kilimanjaro with a local Tanzania or Kenyan company for as little as $1,200. You can pay over $6,000 trekking with the heavily advertised international companies or you can climb with Tusker on comparable routes and pay between $3,700 to $4,590.

Over 100 companies are competing on the mountain and the price range is as varied as Kilimanjaro’s terrain. Climbing Kilimanjaro is a life-or-death deal, so are you going to risk it all for the lowest price with a Kilimanjaro cowboy outfit? It’s a very important decision only you can make.

Kilimanjaro Price Differences

Bottom Feeders

Almost every day freelance porters line up at the entrance to the park hoping to hook on with a trek. Low budget companies hire them and often pay them below the minimum $7 a day wage that the national park has set. Some companies don’t pay porters anything and make them depend on tips. Some porters are not in tents and hike in tattered clothing. And most of the deaths on the mountain are badly cared for porters.

Kilimanjaro’s cut throat price war is often hardest on porters, and if you don’t want them on your conscience you don’t book the $1,200 trip. The national park fees charged to the trekking companies alone are $100 a day per climber so how can a company charge $1200 for a climb that lasts a minimum of 5 days? By ripping off their porters and compromising on food, equipment and crew. Your chances of summiting are very low. The low budget five day climb summit success rate is around 25 percent, according to Kilimanjaro National Park statistics. But if something goes badly wrong on a cheapo climb that has no medical back-up, you become a statistic.

Life at the Top

The top echelon companies that charge the highest rates all put their clients up at the best local hotels before and after the climb. On the mountain they provide quality food, equipment and guides, but there are differences between them and sometimes you don’t get the most bang for your buck.

The largest international travel companies have huge overheads and their high costs are reflected in their Kilimanjaro prices. Kilimanjaro is an international icon but it’s also a cash cow. They try to leverage their established names charging top dollar.

Tusker’s strategy has long been to charge less, but deliver more with the best medically trained staff, best equipment, and a menu crafted by the Culinary Institute of America. Tusker founder Eddie Frank’s travel business philosophy has never been about maximizing the bottom line, but rather giving the customer more than they thought they would be getting. It’s called “Value Exchange.”

Kili trekkers have noted the Tusker difference. In a recent post on TripAdvisor, a Canadian climber who went with a higher priced competitor wrote:

“Tusker Kilimanjaro climbs have experience, leadership and safety, longer times to acclimatize on the mountain than most tour operators that I found, and are anywhere from $2,000.00 to $4,000.00 less expensive than the company I climbed with, particularly when you factor in 12 to 14 days on the mountain vs 10 days for acclimatization.

My experience with the company I chose was excellent, but the experience and training of Tusker and their professional porters, guides, camps, and PRICE will make it a choice of guides for me for several other adventures and goals I have planned.” Read the TripAdvisor article here.

Getting More Than You Pay For

Some people prefer paying the most for everything. It gives them a sense of quality and feeds a sense of entitlement. If you’ve got the dough that’s the easiest choice, but sometimes the best deal isn’t the lowest or the highest price.

To find the right price on Kilimanjaro you’ve got to do your homework. Consider the company’s experience and how they train their guides and chefs. Will your guides monitor your health and keep you safe? Will your tent keep you warm and dry at night? Ask a lot of questions beginning with — what is your summit success rate? Tusker’s rate is over 98 percent on our longer routes.

So start your research. We’re confident you’ll find Tusker to be the best value on the mountain.

Get started here with a list of questions to ask Kilimanjaro companies



If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

There Are 7 Brilliant Comments

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. Top 10 Worst Kilimanjaro Climb Advice Ever | Tusker Georgraphica | July 19, 2016
  1. Margie Weinre says:

    We’ve traveled all around the world and do extensive research before choosing who we book our trips with.

    UNQUESTIONABLY, Tusker was who our research told us to hire for our Kili climb.

    They were far from the highest priced provider or the lowest price, BUT they were the most comprehensive, conscientious and most accessible group I researched.

    Climbing with my 24 & 25 sons (nothing more precious to me) and 3 weeks before my 59th birthday in December 2008, there was nothing more important to me that our safety throughout our climb and in reaching the summit.

    We did a private climb for the 3 of us with 2 guides and, as I recall, 21 porters.

    As far as safety, not only do the guides and porters carry oxygen, a stretcher, first aid equipment and a Gamow bag (a portable, albeit heavy, hyperbaric chamber to treat sever altitude sickness), the guides are all trained as High Altitude First Responders who checked our pulse, temperature and oxygen levels twice daily. They knew how to adjust our altitude meds, Diamox.

    While the quality of the food was a lower priority we were pleasantly surprised by the quality and variety.

    Anytime I called with questions before we left for our climb, I found them answered patiently and completely.

    And … we saw our head guide, “Commander”
    go above and beyond the night my boys and I summited (with 2 guides and 3 porters for the 3 of us) … another climber with acute altitude sickness was descending with her guide. She had vomited over a dozen times, was completely disoriented and barely able to walk. Her guide was carrying no oxygen or meds to help her. Our head guide, “Commander” stopped to give her a Diamox and oxygen while we continued ahead (and then caught up with us to the summit).

    On our way down, my younger son spike a fever. The guides attended him diligently and with care, made sure he took aspirin to reduce the fever, made sure he ate and drank plenty of liquids and rested before being assisted down to our lower altitude camp.

    Money can’t buy the kind of security and care we experienced. Nothing more to say!




  2. Raymond Powers says:

    This is a worthy subject and one that I’ve often wondered about as I’ve researched different climbing companies, but this article does little to advance it. Obviously, booking with one of the cheapest companies is not a good idea, for the reasons mentioned, but there are number of established companies that are very well reviewed on Trip Advisor and elsewhere in established travel guides that charge in the middle.
    In addition, this article suggests that Tusker is significantly cheaper than the high end ones while still delivering the highest service. I don’t know what companies these are, but Tusker is, from what I can see, a very expensive company. The real question, therefore, is what justifies the higher cost of Tusker as compared to the mid range companies.
    I also find it disturbing when I read reviews by alleged “clients” who proclaim a company is the best when they have only been with that one company. Unless one is in the business or has tried other companies, how can one credibly say that a particular company is better than all the rest or provides the greatest value. The only credible thing clients can speak to is their own experience with the company they have used.

    • Tusker Trail says:

      Hi Raymond. Eddie Frank here – owner/founder Tusker Trail. Thank you for your comments.

      I’ve been climbing Kilimanjaro for 40 years now, and have a very detailed understanding of the Kilimanjaro climbing market, the agents, operators, and their practices.

      When evaluating a provided service, such as a fully guided, catered and equipped Kilimanjaro climb, it is important to consider “value exchange” as described in the article above. Simply put, it’s equating what you get, in return for what you pay. A Google search shows prices ranging from $1100 – $9000 on the Lemosho Route for a 10-11 day climb. Tusker’s price for an 11-day Lemosho route climb is $4590. That puts us smack in the middle of the price range. Go cheaper, and you’ll see where your climbing company cuts corners, such as quality of meals, gear, guide training, guide quality, crew wages and safety precautions. Not cutting these corners increases your climb price, as expert guide training, extra guides and crew on your climb, safety equipment, excellent food, and high end gear costs more money.

      One of the highest value additions that sets Tusker Trail climbs apart is the expert training our guides and chefs receive. Tusker’s medical training course for its guides is the only of its kind on Kilimanjaro and is an annual requirement for our guides, some of whom have been working for us for 18 years. Tusker’s 10 chefs receive regular training from the Culinary Institute of America and work wonders preparing tasty and nutritious meals at high altitudes. No company on Kilimanjaro provides their crew with this training, even the most expensive ones. In addition, Tusker carries more oxygen and safety equipment per climber than any other company on the mountain.

      Climbers (not just Tusker’s – see TripAdvisor link in article) that validate Tusker’s value do so after thoroughly researching different companies before the climb, and by directly experiencing how other outfits operate on the mountain as they climb and camp side by side them. We would be happy to put you in direct contact with our past climbers (we have nearly 10,000 to choose from over our 40 years of operation) if you feel the need to confirm their authenticity. Formulating false reviews is unethical and goes against everything we stand for as a transparent, honest and family run business.

      But we encourage you to not just take our word for it, or theirs. Here are some suggestions on how to collect raw data to help you decide which climbing company offers the best value for you based on your priorities, whether those are your safety, summiting, eating well, quality gear, or your wallet.

      1. Talk in great detail to previous clients on a reference list. A company that’s been in business for many years should be able to provide you with hundreds of legitimate references.
      2. Read the outfitters’ materials in great detail, and flesh out the nitty gritty that’s important to you.
      3. Talk to the company on the phone.
      4. Research what people are saying online.
      5. Grill the company about details which concern you, and evaluate the responses.
      6. Educate yourself about high altitude problems, and how your climbing company and guides are prepared to deal with them, as well as their evacuation protocols – beyond that of the national park service – which is minimal.
      7. Find out what gear they use.
      8. Ask about the chef training, and get a sample of the climbing menu.

      9. Check out other camps
      10. Talk to other climbers about their experience of the company, guides and cooks
      11. Witness Tusker guides being asked by the National Park rangers and other companies to assist with medical emergencies. Tusker rescues climbers from other companies all the time. For example:

      Please feel free to call with any questions: 1.775.833.9700.

  3. Jane Lopez says:

    Climbed Kili with Tusker in 1999 and it remains one of my TOP travel experiences!

  4. Henry F. says:

    The article’s observations are spot on. Having climbed Kili with Tusker, and heard stories from others who went with high-end as well as budget groups, there’s no doubt in my mind that Tusker provides the best bang for the buck.

    • Bill Koch says:

      Amen! Tusker is a premier trekking and climbing company. I would never hesitate to contract their services.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *