The price to climb Kilimanjaro varies tremendously from operator to operator. Almost everyone who begins their research finds this perplexing. How could there be so much divergence between companies?
I will explain the differences between each class of company. I have a better perspective in comparing companies than most people who have climbed because I did it three times. I have seen the good operators, the bad operators, and even the terrible ones.
High End International Companies
Most high end international companies charge $4,000 to $6,000 per climber.
Your jaw probably dropped when you first came across some high prices. I know mine certainly did. At the top of the price spectrum are the international companies.
Why do these cost so much? First of all, they might send western guides to accompany the clients on the climb. That’s not cheap to do. They also typically have the best equipment and most luxurious of amenities before, during and after the climb.
The truth is that the luxury operators run excellent treks or they wouldn’t be able to sustain their business. If people were not happy with their service after paying hefty price tags we would certainly hear about it. Luxury operators are well known, established companies who have top notch services.
If you don’t mind spending the money, these are great choices. However, I would not personally recommend these international companies, or any company for that matter, that charges that much money to climb. I don’t think its worth the price for what they offer. Plus, you can get nearly the same level of service for half the price!
Mid Range Companies
The best mid range operators charge between $2,500 to $3,500 per climber.
If you are looking for more reasonable options, there are some better local companies and international companies who provide all of the support required for climbing, but do not offer the often unnecessary services of the high end companies. I call these mid range companies.
These outfits seek to provide a true backpacking experience without sacrificing safety and professionalism. You might think that there must be a huge gap between the services provided by mid range companies compared to international companies given the price difference. But there is not! With these companies you will pay half the price of the luxury operators and get the same service!
I have climbed three times and paid a wide range of prices. My experience between the high priced and mid priced operator was nearly identical! See my recommendation for the best Kilimanjaro operator here.
Local Budget Companies
Low budget companies charge less than $2,500 per climber.
At the lower end of the price spectrum are the local Tanzanian companies. Most are poorly outfitted and unprofessionally run. To obtain customers, they promise everything but usually fail to deliver. They are not KPAP members and they do not treat their porters right, and for that reason alone I despise them. But they do not even provide good services, so no one should use them.
PLEASE avoid the low priced local companies -at all costs, literally.
What is a Realistic Budget for Kilimanjaro?
To climb Kilimanjaro, one should budget at least $5,000.
Flights usually cost around $1,500-$2,500 from the USA. This can be cheaper during the low seasons or much higher during peak tourist months. There are ways to lower the cost by flying what may be inconvenient times or with many connections and long layovers. It is also possible to fly into Kenya, then shuttle into Tanzania. I would not recommend doing these things as traveling in third world countries can be very tiring, frustrating and even unsafe. In my opinion, the time and energy wasted is not worth the money saved. I think it is best to arrive in Tanzania feeling fresh and ready to go – in body and mind.
If you book a group climb with my recommended company, the climb cost is $2,500-$3,500.
Again, you can find cheaper prices with a budget operator or more expensive with international operators, but I strongly advise you go with Ultimate Kilimanjaro. Hotels and airport rides are included in the climb packages.
You may see older articles on the internet which say you can climb for $1,500 or less. This is not possible anymore. Prices have been steadily climbing throughout the past ten years – for good reason. One is that services are better than they were before. Guides and porters are better trained. Equipment is in better condition and replaced sooner. Most importantly, the treatment of the workers have improved a lot. So more porters are being used so that they do not carry heavy loads. More guides are used per group of clients so that there are enough people to watch the clients. Wages are higher, which was desperately needed. Also, park fees have increased a lot.
You will need quite a bit of gear for your climb. If you are an experienced backpacker, then you probably have all or most of the required items. If you are new to backpacking, then this can get very expensive. If you were to buy all your gear from scratch, you can easily spend more than $2,000. Good boots are over $100. Warm sleeping bags start around $200 (it’s best to just rent one from your guide company). A hard shell is about $100. Quality down jackets are about $200. Try to borrow gear from your friends, or rent what you need. You can save a lot of money.
Other expenses are staff tips, visa and vaccinations. Tips amount to about $200-$300. Visas are $100 for US citizens and $50 for everyone else. Vaccinations can cost as much as $500 if your insurance do not cover your shots.