Kilimanjaro Fixed Costs
Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, is on the other side of the world so airfare from the United States to Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, is expensive. You also must go on a guided trip up the mountain, no independent climbing, so you have to shell out at least another couple thousand dollars for the pleasure of climbing it. Add in extra cash for tips, transportation, a safari after the climb, hotels, and food and you’ve got your basic Kili budget.
Budget $5,000 to Climb Kilimanjaro
Here is your basic budget to climb Kilimanjaro (prices in US dollars):
- Air flight from New York to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: $1,500
- Tour operator fee: $3,000
- Assorted extra costs including hotels, food, and transportation: $500
- Total Kilimanjaro climbing cost: $5,000
It’s Expensive to Fly to Tanzania
The two biggest expenses to climb Kilimanjaro are your airfare and the cost of the mandatory climbing tour operator. Both are unavoidable and it’s difficult to cut either cost dramatically.
Air Carriers Serving Tanzania
Some of the air carriers serving Tanzania from the United States include Qatar Airlines, Air France, KLM Royal Dutch, Lufthansa, South African Airways, British Airways, Kenya Airways, and Swiss International Airlines.
Fly from New York to Tanzania
Expect to pay between $1,500 and $2,000 for a round-trip air ticket from New York to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Air flights from Heathrow Airport in London, UK cost between $900 and $1,000. Book your ticket well ahead of time to get the best price on the dates you want.
Costs to Hire a Tour Operator
It is difficult to decide how much to pay an operator to climb Kilimanjaro. The rule of thumb these days is that you shouldn’t pay more than $3,000 per climber. The key to having a successful trip is to know what kind of trip you’re paying for, to know what you want and expect, and to ask for it from your outfitter. Make sure that your operator has a guide, assistant guide, and cook for each three or four climbers, as well as three to four porters per person. Each climber should have a staff of five or six people.
Hire a Local Outfitter?
You can pay a local outfitter a bare-bones price and get a bare-bones adventure and not make the summit. Or you could pay a low price and have a great time and reach the summit with a Tanzanian guide. Be advised that low-budget operators (and even some high-priced ones) tend to not pay their porters or pay them a pittance to cut costs for your cheap trip. Go to Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project for more information on porter abuse and a list of responsible tour operators.
High-Priced Outfitters Don't Ensure Success
You could also pay a high-priced outfitter a lot of money with the promise of better service and safety, high summit success rate, foreign guides, and extra luxuries like portable toilets and showers. Paying for lots of extra amenities though doesn't guarantee that you'll stand on the summit. Some operators change as much as $5,000 per person to climb Kili, with the extra cash being simply additional profit.
Minimum Climber Expenses
Kilimanjaro operators have minimum expenses for each client, including daily park and camping/hut fees, staff wages, food for clients, guides, and porters, equipment, and transportation. The Kilimanjaro National Park entrance and camping/hut fees total $100 per climber per day. Local wages to guides and porters come to roughly $25 per climber per day, while food costs about $10 per climber per day.
Operator Climber Fees
Your operator fee includes the official Kilimanjaro National Park fees for climbing:
- Kilimanjaro National Park entry fee: $60 per day per person.
- Guide and Porter entrance fees: $1 per person per trip.
- Rescue fee: $20 per person.
- Camping fee: $50 per night.
- Hut fee (Marangu Route): $50 per night.
Operator Guide and Porter Fees
Your operator fee includes guide, assistant guide, and porter wages, which vary between companies. The following wages are considered high by most outfitters, who pay less:
- Guides: $20 per day.
- Assistant Guides: $15 per day.
- Porters: $10 per day.
Tip Your Staff
You will need to tip your staff after you’ve summitted Kili and returned to the base. Your tip is not, however, based on if you reached the top but by how well your staff performed and served you on the climb. Tips are generally given by the group rather than individually, although you may want to make an additional gratuity if you want. It is advisable, however, to stay within the tip guidelines below and to avoid higher tips unless some circumstance warrants it. Tips can be in US dollars or Tanzanian shillings. Make sure US bills are new, crisp, and not torn or worn.
Allot Tips to Each Staff Member
Tips are allotted at the end of the trip, usually back at the hotel. Assign one member of your group to collect tip money from the entire party. The staff is assembled and tips are given out. Make sure that you give the tips directly to each individual guide, assistant, cook, and porter, rather than giving the whole amount to the lead guide for distribution to the staff. If you do this then the whole amount may be pocketed by the guide or it will be doled out inequitably. You may be pressured by the guides to do this—just don’t succumb to that pressure.
Usual Tip Amounts
Generous tips for a seven-day climb per group are:
- Guide: $90 to $130
- Assistant Guide: $60 to $90
- Cook: $60 to $90
- Waiter: $45 to $65
- Porters: $35 to $55 each
Buy Kilimanjaro Guidebooks
Compare prices and buy a Kilimanjaro guidebook for more information:
Kilimanjaro & Mount Kenya by Cameron Burns
Kilimanjaro & East Africa: A Climbing and Trekking Guide by Cameron M. Burns
Kilimanjaro: The Trekking Guide to Africa's Highest Mountain by Henry Stedman
Explore Mount Kilimanjaro by Jacquetta Megarry