How to choose the best operator for your Kilimanjaro climb
The single most important decision you will make in planning to climb Kilimanjaro is deciding on the best operator company to climb Kilimanjaro with.
We recommend you check 7 key issues
- The best company to climb Kilimanjaro with will be a dedicated operator, not a travel agent
Agents just take your bookings – all the major adventure travel companies offering treks all around the world are just agents. They take your booking and then someone else you do not know is then subcontracted to run your climb.
This may work out fine if you are lucky but the agent cannot control what actually happens on the mountain so you just have to hope. Not only that, but agents get a commission from the operator that bumps up the price you pay. So, when you are deciding which company to choose for your Kilimanjaro climb choose one of the best operators: they can give you a good price and can directly control the quality of your climb.
- Make sure the operator for your Kilimanjaro climb meets the basic legal requirements.
They should have financial bonding to protect your money if they go bust. They should have proper public liability insurance and also a Tanzanian Tourist Board license, both are compulsory: all the best Kilimanjaro operators meet these basic legal requirements.
- Check what is included in a quote from your preferred Kilimanjaro operator
Big things that matter are whether airport transfers are included both coming and going, whether you have a good quality hotel before and after the climb and whether all the park fees are included. Even some of the best Kilimanjaro operators quote these as a local cost and given they are about $700 this is a huge cost to leave out.
- Ask what guide to client ratio, what food and what kit the operator provides
This is critical to your safety. We always have a minimum ratio of 1 guide for every 2 clients. And really good tents are essential, there is nothing worse than a leaky tent and of course, you need good food and plenty of it to have the energy to the summit.
- Make sure they operate responsibly
This might seem like just a nice to have but the best Kilimanjaro operator will care about his guides and porters, about Kilimanjaro, and about Tanzania. Membership of the Tanzania Porters Organization (TPO) and Kilimanjaro Guides Association (KGA), should be a minimum – TPO makes sure its members treat their porters well. The best Kilimanjaro Operators all sign up to TPOs and KGA rules.
Also, look at what they say about the environment, we follow the principles of the Leave no trace organization ensuring Kilimanjaro will be left unspoiled for future climbers. And the best Kilimanjaro operators also support local charities. We fund a local children’s home and the porter’s association with a contribution for every climber.
- Check out what they will do when things go wrong
Things that do go wrong are flights are delayed – the best Kilimanjaro operators will reschedule your climb right down to the last moment at no extra cost; luggage is lost or arrives late – a good operator should be set up to deal with this and some people in a group can get ill – the best Kilimanjaro companies will always be able to split a group so that not everyone has to descend.
- Get proper references.
Don’t just rely on testimonials they are too easy to make up. Get real emails and contact people yourself and if you use Facebook or TripAdvisor check out an operator’s page as you can see exactly what other climbers have said. This is a great way to check out the best and most reputable Kilimanjaro operators’ companies to climb Kilimanjaro.
So, there you have it: seven tips to get yourself the best operator to climb Kilimanjaro. Book with an operator not an agent, make sure they operate legally, check exactly what they include, find out if they are socially responsible, ask what they do when things go wrong, and last but by no means list get some references. Check out our kilimanjaro Routes