Guest post from David Beach who climbed Kilimanjaro with his two brothers in September 2016.
Three of us climbed Kilimanjaro in September of 2016. We knew beforehand that the choice of guiding company would be one of the most crucial decisions we would make, and after much research and deliberation we picked Tusker Trail. I couldn’t be happier with that choice. From the pre-trip material Tusker sent us (recommended training regime, gear lists, medical considerations, etc.) to the personalized contact and service pre-trip (hi, Haley!), to the very well-organized logistics pre-, during, and post-climb, we felt ourselves to be in extremely competent and capable hands at all times.
We investigated more economical options, and discarded them all as either inappropriate for our circumstances or extremely ill-advised in terms of failing to meet a number of critical criteria, not the least of which were safety and security.
On the climb itself (Lemosho route) we encountered climbers in different groups using different guiding companies. It was very informative to learn how the amenities other groups had or lacked compared to ours. We didn’t encounter a single group that reported having all of the same amenities that we did, whether it was comprehensive medical checks at least twice daily, excellent food (we had spaghetti bolognese one night!), an adequate supply of clean, potable water, thick air mattresses and cold-weather rated sleeping bags, portable toilet, etc, etc, etc.
I’m sure it’s possible to climb the mountain with fewer amenities and comfort – heck, we saw groups doing it. We also saw climbers who had no business being on the mountain (for reasons of being completely disoriented and incapable well before the summit, wearing completely inadequate clothing, etc), who had clearly decided to pick more economical guides.
We also directly experienced the “Tusker effect,” in which climbers and guides from other companies who run into difficulty seek out the Tusker guides for help. On our descent day, a small group of climbers ran out of water and their guide approached ours for help. Of course, the Tusker guides helped out and gave them the water they needed. I have no doubt those climbers paid less than we did for their experience, and I’m glad Tusker was able to help. Let’s just say there was no question we were going to run out of anything.
People die on Kilimanjaro every year; although I’m sure that sounds a bit dramatic, we were determined that we were not going to be among them. If you’re young, fit, and already know that you will perform well at altitude, fill your boots. If those things are not as true as you would prefer them to be, don’t take chances. Invest in the best security and peace of mind you can, and pick Tusker.
David’s story was originally published on TripAdvisor.