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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 $3,800 to $5,700.

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



  • Henry F.
    April 28, 2016

    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
      April 28, 2016

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

  • Jane Lopez
    April 29, 2016

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

  • Raymond Powers
    April 30, 2016

    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.

  • Margie Weinre
    May 7, 2016

    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!





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