Written by: Kruti Patel
Climbing Kilimanjaro is the type of hyper-real experience you’ll always look back on and question if it really was you that climbed to the highest point in all of Africa. It’s the hardest walk you’ll ever take, it’s likely one of the most iconic things you’ll ever do and it’ll leave you in awe of your strength. Kilimanjaro earned its place on the adventure enthusiast’s bucket list for these reasons and more, but being the world’s most expensive mountain to climb isn’t one of them.
As far as the cost of climbing Kilimanjaro goes, I’ve heard it all. I’ve read budget traveler bloggers going on and on about how it can be done for as little as $850, I’ve also heard of tour operators offering the most luxurious climbs with a starting price of $8,000, and then everything in between. Below I’ve quickly broken down what things to consider when a tour operator quotes you one of these price points.
Budget Climbs: Under $1000
While it sounds appealing, booking a climb under $1000 usually means your guide and porters are going to be paid next to nothing. For example on a 6 Day climb, the Kilimanjaro Park Fee for one trekker will be $740, meaning only $260 are left to operate your climb. Basically a budget tour gets you a bare bones climb, we’re talking old equipment, a risky trek in that your guide may not be that experienced and very basic food. The cost of climbing Kilimanjaro doesn’t need to cost you your life savings, but climbing at this “budget price” point does mean you climb at the expense of your guide and porter team and maybe even yourself.
Mid-Tier Climbs: $1400 -$2000
A Mid-Tier climb in my personal opinion is the way to go. With a mid-tier climb there is perfect balance between having a great climbing experience with a tour operator that is experienced and not having your climb cost you an arm and a leg. To find a good quality tour operator at this price point you’ll definitely have to do some research and find a local tour operator. In short, a mid-tier tour doesn’t have the bells and whistles of a luxury tour, but ensures you are safe with an experienced guide, you have access to good quality equipment and your guide/porter team is paid fairly.
Luxury Climbs: $4000 and up
The first thing to be wary about when you get in to this range of high price quotes is where the tour operator you are booking with is located. In most cases if you are trying to book your Kilimanjaro tour with an adventure travel company in your home country, you will pay the luxury climb price, but your actual tour will be run by a local mid-tier tour operator and you won’t know who the local tour operator is until you arrive in Moshi. There are a few adventure travel companies out there that offer the works, they usually partner with a local tour operator in Moshi, but supply equipment and a representative from the company will be on the ground when you arrive. If having a private toilet, gourmet meals and bottled water the entire trek is a must have then spending this kind of cash might be an option you should look at.
So going back to the question of how much does it really cost to climb Kilimanjaro, the answer is it depends on what you need. To help you out, below is a cost breakdown of Kilimanjaro park fees paid by the Tour Operator to the Kilimanjaro National Park on a 6 Day climb. Then you can determine if what your Tour Operator is charging above the base park fees is worth everything they provide for you during your trek up the famous Mount Kilimanjaro.
Lastly I’ll leave you with this… when I climbed Kilimanjaro, I wasn’t too thrilled with the food our tour operator provided us. I complained to my climbing partner about it and he said to me, “we aren’t here to eat gourmet food, we’re here to climb a mountain.” To which I responded with, “Touché”