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Kilimanjaro Guides and Porters

Mountain porters

Once on the Mountain, your guide is your mentor and it is his duty to advise, lead, support and encourage you to safely achieve your personal goal, then to bring you down to the gate again. He will hike with you and answer any questions you have about the mountain. It is important that you work closely with your guide and follow his advice.
If you feel unwell at any time you must be honest and tell your guide.

The guide recruits the mountain crew (porters, assistants, chefs) and it is his responsibility to see that the crew work efficiently and everything runs smoothly and safely. For this reason your guide may need to attend to other duties as well as accompany you.

The porter to client ratio is generally a calculation of 2.5 porters to 1 client. The maximum load a porter should carry is 15 kg. Porters carry client’s back-packs, food, trekking equipment and general supplies as well as their own personal gear. Their load is weighed at the entry gate. More porters may need to be allocated to the climb crew if loads exceed National Park regulations.
The porters duties are very physical and tiring, but, under the leadership of the guide, everything should be waiting for you when you arrive at the end of the hike and ready for you to leave the following morning.

Mountain chefs

Preparing and cooking food at altitude (often in bad weather conditions) takes skill and patience. Mountain chefs are highly skilled and will accommodate your food preferences whenever possible. We would like to know in advance if you have any special food requirements.

Tipping Porters & Guides on Kilimanjaro

Before climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, most climbers often start worrying about the porter and guide’s tip before the climb starts. They want to know how much it will affect their budget, and to make sure they are paying a good tip. A climbing tip should only be given if you received good service.

When you are considering how much to tip your mountain crew, think about how efficiently your porters carried your equipment, prepared the campsite or hut and the level and quality of any extra services (e.g. water carriage and wood collection). Consider the food standard and efficiency of service from the chef and kitchen assistant and also remember they have to porter items. Finally, consider how informative and helpful was your guide and how efficiently did he run the team!

A typical porter on an eight day climb, on the Western Breach or the Lemosho, should receive around a $40 tip; a cook could receive about $80; and a head guide could receive $100 or more. These tips are divided by the total number of people in the group, not per person. A porter on a seven day climb on the Machame route would receive around $35.

A general estimate, for your budget, per Kilimanjaro climber runs from about $175 to $250 per person depending upon the following factors: the number of people in your group, the number of the porters (which is often quite large), number of guides, cooks, and sometimes the route. It’s impossible to predict an exact tip in advance because it really depends upon how much gear is brought up the mountain, and how much weight is brought up the mountain. There is not a de facto standard of tipping for all companies, it’s only a recommendations from organizations, NGOs and the Tanzanian government. Some higher-end companies have seen tips in excess of these recommendations. Some budget companies have seen tips lower than this.

A couple things to remember when tipping Kilimanjaro porters

  • Tip directly to the porters, not the guides.
  • Bring a packet of 50 letter size envelopes to distribute the tip
  • Determine a tip for each component of your climbing group: the porters, cooks, assistant guides, and the lead guide.
  • Distribute it on the final morning of the descent usually at Mweka Camp or the Park Gate
  • Tip in either Tanzanian Shillings or US Dollars
  • The average Tanzanian makes $40 per month. A $40 tip for difficult work for many days is a great wage and supports the local economy.

Generally speaking, an example of a tip breaks down like this

  • Porters $5 per day per porter
  • Cooks $8 to $10 per cook
  • Assistant Guides $8 to $10 per guide
  • Kilimanjaro Guides $20 per day and up per guide
  • Safari Guides $20 per day and up per guide

In other words, if you had four porters, 2 assistant guides and 1 lead guide. The total trip would be around $420.

4 porters X $40 = $160 Total
2 assistant guides X $80 = $160
1 lead guide X $100 = $100
Total = $420 / Number of people in the group