Kilimanjaro Climb Cost
As in just about everything you purchase, there is a wide range of costs that guiding companies charge for a Kilimanjaro trek. Much of this as to do with the actual route you are taking and how many days the climb is. However, there is certainly a broad range of prices even on the same route. Because the overall expense of your trip is quite high (airline flights, other activities like safaris, etc.) we highly recommend avoiding extremely low cost trips. For reasons we explain here, it is simply impossible to execute a well-run trip on any route for less than $1,500. However, we also see trips costing over $7,500 dollars that (in our opinion) offer little more (if anything) to the modestly priced trips that land somewhere in between.
To help you understand more about how to shop among guiding companies, it will help for you to better understand the actual costs that a company encounters when taking a commercial trip of guests.
National Park Fees
Kilimanjaro National Park (owned and run by the country of Tanzania) manages the land that makes up Kilimanjaro. Because of the mountain’s popularity (approximately 30,000 people attempt to climb it per year), it is a major source of revenue for the country. And the fees it charges guiding companies for your trip are quite significant.
Here is an estimate of the fees (in USD) required for a 7-day trip per guest:
- Conservation Fee: $490
- Camping Fee: $350
- Rescue Fee: $20
- Crew Fee: $90
- Taxes: $170
- TOTAL PARK FEES: $1,120 per guest!
So for a typical 7-day route, your guiding company must pay about $1,100 USD in park fees alone! And if you take a route like the Lemosho, Northern Circuit or Rongai there will be additional forest fees charged by the park.
As you may have discovered through your research, a guided Kilimanjaro hike involves A LOT of workers with at least 2 guides and a lot of porters. While none of these workers are paid a lot of money, a respectable guiding outfit will pay everyone fairly (and please note that there are a lot of companies that try and cheat their guides and workers). Porters often get the worst end of the deal. However, in recent years they have been supported by KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project) that has helped define the minimum standards for porters including pay, maximum weight to be carried and proper accommodations and food/water while on the mountain.
Below are some estimated costs that go to the crew that is serving you (based on a 7-day trip for 2 people):
- Head Guide: $175
- Assistant Guide: $140
- Cook: $105
- Porters (9): $504
- Porter-Waiter: $65
- Camp-Master: $80
- TOTAL CREW SALARY: $1,069 (or approximately $534 per guest)
So, in addition to the park fees, your guiding company will also be shelling out $534 per guest for the crew on the mountain. Put together, you can see that a typical 7-day trip for two people is immediately costing the guiding company well over $1,500 per climber in pure direct costs. And this doesn’t include food costs (which are significant), nor the wear and tear on equipment such as tents, pots/pans, supplies, etc. This is one reason we caution against anyone signing up for a climb with a company that is less than $1,500.
Extra Fees to Consider
Depending on the guiding company you may be offered some additional options for you to consider.
There are established “outhouse” style toilets at each camp location. However, they have much to be desired in the way of experience . To help alleviate this bad experience, many guiding companies offer a “portable loo” which is essentially a camping toilet (like you might find in a camping trailer) and a privacy tent over it. It can only be used by the guests in your party.
We often see this as an add-on price per climber. However, this has its challenges. Primarily because some hikers opt to pay for it and others don’t. And more often than not, everyone in the group ends up using. We prefer the higher end outfits that offer this automatically. We have also seen companies that simply charge $150 for the trip and split it among all the climbers. In discussions with people who have done the climb, it is considered well worth the money.
Your own tent
Most guiding companies provide good, sturdy 4-season tents that hold up in the very windy and often cold environment that you may experience (especially in the last few days before summiting). They usually hold 2 people comfortably. If you are climbing with a friend, they will certainly put you both in the same tent. However, if you are climbing alone you will likely be paired up with another climber.
If you would prefer to sleep alone in your tent, you can ask your guiding company if there is an option to have your own tent. They can usually accommodate this request and will charge you around $100 for the privilege. This may seem like a lot, but if your trip is 8-10 days long, you’ll realize it is not a lot to pay per night for the extra comfort of being alone.
Do plan on budgeting no less than 10-20% of your trip cost to tip your crew at the end of the trip. Even with highly respected guiding companies, the guides and porters do not make a lot of money. Tipping is considered a vital source of their income. And they work very hard on the mountain both moving gear from camp to camp and catering to your every need while in camp.
You might ask, “Why don’t the guiding companies just include tips in the total price?” Part of the reason is that tips are not taxed, which theoretically leaves more money for the crew (and the Kilimanjaro National Park is already compensated very well). But part of the reason is also to look less expensive. However, regardless of the company, we highly recommend budget 10-20% of your total cost for tipping the crew that works very hard for you. You will be glad you did!