The hardest thing about booking a Kilimanjaro climb is picking your guide service operators. Because there are so many companies that offer trips, potential customers are often feel as though they are getting lost in all of the marketing material, hype and misinformation.
Most customers ask us how there could be such huge price variations around what appears to be the same general service – supporting a climb up Kilimanjaro. It is a valid question that we ourselves would also be wondering if we were in your shoes.
First, we need to discuss the costs of such an expedition. The main costs are staff wages, food costs, equipment costs and park fees.
Park fees for Kilimanjaro National Park are about $120 per day per person. These are set prices so every company pays the same fees. However, the other costs vary widely from operator to operator.
When it comes to wages, Peak Planet’s mountain crews are the among the highest earners on Kilimanjaro. We believe that to have the best staff, our guides and porters need to be compensated as such to reward their excellence. Only reputable operators are able to retain the best guides by paying fair wages and keeping staff busy. Our guides climb Kilimanjaro around 20 times a year.
Additionally, we have the highest ratio of guides to clients on the mountain – one guide per two clients. We believe this is necessary to adequately monitor every climber. Some operators use only one guide per three or four clients.
We offer many training opportunities to our staff. We have English language training, crisis management, guiding skills and money management to widen our guides’ experience and ultimately provide better service our clients. Our staff goes through extensive multi-day training courses during the low season to reevaluate and refresh their knowledge of first aid and rescue. These courses assure that our guides are well prepared for any situation they encounter.
The level of care that goes into the welfare of our staff increases our costs substantially. But it is one of the fundamental principles of Peak Planet that all of our staff is treated fairly and humanely. We want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to perform regular work and that they receive more than a living wage. Clients will see this principle through the eyes and attitudes of our guides and porters while they are climbing Kilimanjaro. It is one of the main reasons why our clients rave about our staff after their climbs.
Many operators do not pay their staff an honest wage. By underpaying porters, these operators are able to cut costs dramatically at the expense of their staff’s welfare. It is a shameful, but all too common, practice.
We provide tasty, nutritious meals made from fresh food. On longer climbs, we resupply food during the climb so that clients can continue eating well. Feedback from our clients often mentions the food on the mountain was outstanding. Our crew also eats three meals a day of local foods such as Ugali and rice, with some meat and vegetables.
Many operators do not provide the same standard of food. Instead, they will serve the same dishes over and over, made from processed foods. This can greatly affect your climb because it is important to continue to eat to ensure that you have the energy for trekking. If you are not getting the nutrients and calories from your meals, you are operating at a deficit.
Sadly, many operators only feed their porters once or twice a day. Porters expend a lot of energy hauling gear up the mountain. They need to eat as well as the clients.
Our camping equipment is of proven quality and designed for conditions on Kilimanjaro. We provide high-quality tents and name brand gear. Tents and equipment on Kilimanjaro are heavily used and wear down quickly. We regularly maintain and replace equipment so that our clients can be comfortable while on the expedition.
The cost of equipment on the mountain can vary greatly. Lower priced companies will repair and reuse older tents as long as possible, well past their expiration dates. The last thing you want is to be housed in a leaking tent or sleep in a cold sleeping bag.
The staff of these operators have it even worse. They are made to sleep in the dining tent with insufficient mats and worn out sleeping bags.
The nights before and after the climb are spent at quality lodges with great customer reviews. We want your entire stay, from beginning to end, to be excellent so we do not sacrifice service on the front and back end of your trip.
Lower priced companies will use budget lodges to lower their cost and charge you separately for food.
Ultimately, all of these necessities described above increase the cost of our climbs. We will never be the lowest priced outfitter on the mountain nor do we care to be. We are a mid-range company, providing a high standard of service for a fair price. Luxury operators charge prices much higher than ours for things you do not need, while budget operators charge prices lower than ours and leave out things you do need.
Peak Planet is one of the few specialist companies operating on Kilimanjaro and we have built a solid reputation as one of the best on the mountain. We will gladly put our standard of service and our client satisfaction ratings against any of our competitors. 90% of the operators out there do not even come close, while the others will charge you far higher prices for the same level of service.
The prices of our climbs reflect our higher, but necessary, operating costs to provide a standard of service that yields a 99.8% client satisfaction rate. As the premier outfitter for climbing Kilimanjaro, we pride ourselves in offering the best Kilimanjaro climbs at fair prices.