Guides / Trekking Company


Trip Participants
Selecting the Route
Guide/Trekking Company
Training for the Climb
Gear List

Travel to Tanzania
Pre-Climb Orientation
Day 1: to Forest Camp
Day 2: to Shira 1 Camp
Day 3: to Moir Camp
Day 4: rest day at Moir
Day 5: to Lava Tower
Day 6: to Arrow Glacier
Day 7: Western Breach
Day 8: Summit day
Day 9: Descent

Safari After the Climb

Hiking  Distances
GPS Coordinates
Contact Information

Every year tens of thousands of trekkers climb, or attempt to climb, Kilimanjaro. No one is allowed on the mountain without a licensed guide. The range of services provided (and cost) of the guiding companies vary tremendously.

Pauline and I did a lot of research to select a guiding company for our trek up Kilimanjaro. We did this by studying the company web sites, reading several dozen web "trip reports" posted by Kili trekkers, and by contacting some of the people who posted these reports by  personal e-mail. We did not have any previous "big mountain" climbing experience, and health and safety precautions were high on our list of priorities.

As with many products and services, you typically get what you pay for. We read many trip reports from people who climbed with the inexpensive companies. Sometimes these climbs were unpleasant experiences with guides who were inexperienced, or unreliable, or who spoke little English. At the other end of the spectrum, the most costly companies place a great deal of emphasis on health and safety (and on climber comfort).

After several weeks of research, we narrowed our choices down to four companies; two U. S. and two Tanzanian companies. All four outfits offered basically the same features, i.e.,  route options (including the more difficult Western Breach route, and camping within the volcanic crater at the top), very experienced guides, emphasis on safety (health monitoring of the clients, carrying a high-altitude pressure bag in case of emergency, taking a precautionary oxygen supply, detailed evacuation plans with guides who speak English), and flawless recommendations from former clients.

The U. S. companies both seemed a little too slick and "yuppie" to me, to be honest. They also tended to offer treks on fixed, set dates, in which we would join-up with a larger group of other climbers whom we had never met. They run mountain expeditions all around the world, and Kilimanjaro is just one of many glossy trips that they offer. These companies also tended to be about $1,000 more expensive than the Tanzanian ones.

The two Tanzanian companies seemed to offer more personalized trips, and specialize solely in Kilimanjaro climbs. You could schedule any dates that you liked, with any group size. Both offered identical services and were very thorough in outlining their trips. However, it appeared that one of the two companies was basically a "one man operation," although I have no doubt that he runs first class trips.

We chose Tusker Trail, a Tanzanian company with an office in the U. S. for answering questions and helping with logistics from this end. The information on their web site was very detailed, and they seemed to cover all of the bases. All of the web logs from former clients, and some of our own follow-up e-mails with clients, were consistent with the information on Tusker's web site. I think that we made a very good choice, and they did an excellent job for us.



Copyright 2005. Michael E. Coltrin, Albuquerque, NM. All rights reserved.