Kilimanjaro: A Full Service Expedition with Active Africa

Kilimanjaro: A Full Service Expedition with Active Africa

Posted on June 22, 2018

We strive to be amongst the most professional mountaineering outfits on Kilimanjaro, but this comes at a cost and we know that at first glance the trek costs for our preferred route on Kilimanjaro are higher than those of other operators offering climbs on the mountain. Primarily due to the fully inclusive nature of our itinerary planning, this has been the cause of much debate as we are aware that without understanding these costs, clients will be reluctant to purchase an experience that may appear to be cheaper from other operators. The fact remains that most other departures will not include certain features that we offer, resulting in the client paying the “hidden costs” which will ultimately add to the price.

When making your comparisons with other trek operators, you should consider the following:

1. The Lemosho Route

This is a remote route starting from the west of the mountain and finishing in the east. We operate this route because it is the least frequented route and offers the most diverse experience of the mountain.

However, the price of getting there is a 3-hour journey requiring 4-wheel drive vehicles. Compared to other routes that can be accessed in an hour using standard vehicles, this increases the cost in getting to the start of the route.

2. Extended Itinerary

Most routes on the mountain are done in 5 to 6 days. We take 7 to 8 days, specifically designing our route to ensure the best possible acclimatisation time and vastly increasing the chance of reaching the summit.

We also include a day prior to departing on the trek. This offers the chance to see part of Tanzanian life – normally not available unless taking a post or pre-trip extension. More importantly, it allows us time to sort out inadequate gear and lost luggage – a common occurrence that can impact negatively on your experience.

3. Post and Pre-Trek Accommodation

Some operators do not include hotel accommodation before and after the trek. Those that do typically use “trek” standard accommodation. We include quality 4-star country accommodation, offering a welcome introduction on your arrival and much deserved comfort after a strenuous and mentally testing journey. There is also 3-nights’ accommodation included as compared to the standard 2 nights before and after the trek.

4. Trek Leader & Crew

We employ a crew of seasoned porters and suitably qualified guides and cooks. On all Full-Service expeditions, we send a professional and experienced Trek Leader to oversee the expedition. We are not embarrassed to admit that this forms a significant portion of the cost of an escorted expedition - our Trek Leaders will ensure the smooth running of every aspect of your expedition, guaranteeing an efficient resolution to problems often experienced with African travel in general and

mountaineering in an African context in particular, allowing you to focus exclusively on the experience at hand. Most importantly, they bring professional mountain knowledge gained from experience on a variety of mountains around the world, and wilderness emergency management skills that gives you both a sense of security in an unfamiliar environment and increases your chances of making the summit. Trek Leaders are also qualified guides, providing informed commentary and offering specialist knowledge to supplement that of the local guides.

5. Ethical Porter Standards

The backbone to any expedition on Kilimanjaro is the team of porters used to ferry all the equipment up the mountain to give you the best chance of achieving summit success. We ensure special attention is paid to porter welfare in the following ways:

  • We ensure that no bribes are ever paid by porters to get work. All porters are registered and selected by means of a database which tracks all their work and their performance, and which selects them in a way that fairly distributes the work.
  • We pay amongst the highest overall porter wages and bonuses and ensure they receive their full salary. Overall, our porters receive the highest compensation vs. any other Kili operator.
  • We closely monitor and strictly uphold weight limits for porter.
  • We have porter welfare officers at the start gates of every trek, to inspect porters and check their gear and ensure that our system of fair porter treatment is truly being practiced in a transparent manner.
  • On the mountain, we have independent 'monitoring porters' to give us constant feedback on our fair practice systems.
  • Unlike any other company, we ensure all porters are equipped with professional waterproof and windproof raingear.
  • We are the only company providing closed-cell sleeping pads in tents with floors, for all our porters. Our porter tents are meticulously designed to the best standards to keep them warm and dry.
  • We give our porters medical treatment equal to that for paying guests
  • We pay bonuses to porters for removing waste left on the mountain by other companies
  • We exceed the guidelines set forth by KPAP on feeding our staff and ensure hearty meals are available to all crew.
  • We provide private vehicle transport for all porters & return transport home at the end of each trek. Many other outfits only hire porters who are ‘available’ at the gate.

6. Equipment & Safety

We make use of properly maintained international brand tents and equipment especially imported into the country, allowing us to offer some of the most comfortable camps on the mountain. Where many other outfits make use of the public ablution facilities provided at most camp sites, we provide our own toilet facilities for private use, better ensuring your hygiene and hence your health. We carry a comprehensive emergency medical kit, which includes emergency O2, custom designed evacuation stretcher and where required, a portable hyperbaric altitude chamber, and equip our crew with handheld radios and satellite phones.

7. Gratuities

Unlike most operators who exclude tips from the trek fee, all trek itineraries managed and led by an Active Africa Trek Leader include tips for the porters and guide crew. This relieves clients of what is often an unfamiliar and uncomfortable experience for them, and frequently an unexpected cost. More importantly, it allows Active Africa to monitor fair practice in distribution of gratuities while ensuring control of service delivery. In addition, we include all the other tips you may not think about – transfer drivers, waiters at meals, hotel staff and all those other unexpected “service fees” and “additional levies” that keep the wheels on any expedition moving efficiently…

8. All Inclusive Trek Fee

We strive to offer a quality trekking experience and we aim to be as fully inclusive as possible. All trek associated costs, from vehicle transfers to camp fees, are included and there are no hidden surprises. Except for meals on your arrival day, lunch on the free day and any optional activities undertaken, this trek is fully inclusive of all meals, both while on trek and when at the base hotel. We also include bottled water on the vehicles and for the first day of the trek where the water may not be safe to drink.

9. The Extras

There are a host of added extras incorporated in an escorted expedition: training programmes and access to professional advice to prepare you for your climb, comprehensive travelogues to further enhance your understanding of the mountain, social networking sites that update the progress of your trek for loved ones and friends to follow back home, access to a satellite phone for that important summit call home, a photographic documentation of your climb, personalised kit bags and fleece jackets – all form part of the added value we try to bring to what will likely be a once in a lifetime experience.

 

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