It can be pretty overwhelming trying to select a Kilimanjaro operator. There are LOTS of companies selling climbs. When I booked my first climb, I must have looked at 30 companies.
All companies claim to be awesome but the fact is that there are a lot of bad Kilimanjaro operators out there.
Be sure to do significant research into the company you ultimately choose. It’s up to you to evaluate the operators to see which are good or bad.
What should you look for?
Here are the main things to consider in choosing an operator:
- Has Many Years of Experience – Climbing Kilimanjaro has its risks. People die every year and sadly most of them could have been prevented. Who you climb with can save your life. Every company should have knowledgeable guides that know how to prevent and treat sick clients. Guides need proper training and experience. They also need to be assertive and have real leadership abilities. Kilimanjaro is not the place for a complacent or passive guide. When you look at a company, make sure your guides are well trained and will keep you safe. Do not climb with a newly formed company. This is your life. Why trust someone blindly?
- Uses Nice Equipment – The tents and other equipment utilized should be able to cope with the demands of the mountain. Operators should use tents from established, known brands (Western standard) and have fresh inventory periodically to replace damaged tents. A cold, leaky tent is not acceptable. Ask your operator what kind of tents they use. If they are of an unknown origin and quality (such as locally made brands), look elsewhere.
- Cares for Guides and Porters – Operators take advantage of their staff will likely take advantage of you too. Look for companies that treat their employees well, especially their porters. Please do not be ignorant or carefree of the suffering that occurs behind the scenes (see Kilimanjaro Guide and Porters page). Choose KPAP partner companies to be a responsible tourist.
- Provides Good Customer service – Operators should be responsive and informative to client requests and questions. I prefer companies that tell you the truth, rather than what you want to hear. If everything an operator says is full of rainbows and unicorns (as is when dealing with Tanzanian salespeople), take it with a grain of salt.
- Offers a Fair Price – You can spend a lot or you can spend a little. What you want is to get more than you are paying for – a company that provides the service you want but charges less than they should. More below on this.
Most of the reputable companies have operated for ten or more years and have thousands of successful climbs under their belts. Narrow your search to perhaps 3-5 operators using the criteria above, then email them with a few questions and ask for a price quote. Gauge their responses to determine whether you like them. If you do, find independent testimonials on the internet, or ask the company to provide you with contact email addresses and phone numbers of recent clients.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is a potentially dangerous activity, so put forth an honest effort in your research.
Who is the Best Kilimanjaro Operator?
Ultimate Kilimanjaro is my top pick for Kilimanjaro guide companies. This operator is a popular, highly praised company with a long track record of service.
Why Ultimate Kilimanjaro? They fill all the blanks, and more.
- They have been operating on the mountain since 2007
- Their guides are certified Wilderness First Responders
- Their guides are very experienced on the mountain
- They conduct health checks twice daily using pulse oximeters to evaluate heart rate and oxygen saturation
- They carry emergency oxygen, a portable stretcher, and a medical kit
- They coordinate Kilimanjaro Search & Rescue helicopter evacuation for severely injured or ill climbers
- They use high quality tents and sleeping bags
- They are a KPAP Partner Company
- They have affordable prices
If you are looking for a solid company that provides the best services at a great price, then Ultimate Kilimanjaro is your best choice. I could not have been more thrilled with my experience and I strongly recommend you climb with Ultimate Kilimanjaro.
Because I have climbed three times I have a better perspective in comparing companies than nearly anyone else who has climbed, besides the operators themselves. I have seen the good ones and the bad ones, and even the very bad ones.
Ultimate Kilimanjaro was the absolute best.