There is an overwhelming number of companies out there offering Kili treks. It’s important to choose the right one, seeing that you’re likely only to climb Kilimanjaro once! The points below are the nuts and bolts of what separates us from other companies and what enables us to run the safest, most professional and most responsible Kilimanjaro treks, period.
The highest available level of safety on the mountain:
We provide more safety gear than any other outfitter on Kilimanjaro. We’re the only ones providing a hyperbaric chamber on every trek, and the only company supplying a fully rigid litter. We supply more emergency oxygen than any other outfitter, and have more AED devices than any institution (public or private) anywhere in Tanzania! On just about every item, we exceed all others in the provision of safety gear, communication devices and levels of emergency response. Every trek is guided by a guide team 100% comprised of WFR certified guides. This ensures that our entire guiding team are on the same page – trained and certified at the highest level.
Safety gear we provide on our Kili treks:
Oxygen for emergency use – For groups of 2-6, two kits (360L medical oxygen bottles, each with a regulator & 2 nasal canula masks) are provided. For 7 or more climbers, we provide 3 full O2 kits.
Hyperbaric Chamber – A portable altitude chamber, for emergency use, is carried on every trek.
AED (Automated External Defibrillator) – This is optional on most treks, but included on treks with a night in Crater Camp.
Stretcher/ Litter – A fully rigid steel-framed litter is carried on each trek.
First-aid / trauma & medicine kit – This is fully stocked as per Wilderness First Responder guidelines, with medicine instructions. Two first-aid kits are carried for groups of 9 or more.
Pulse-oximeter – The head guide checks, evaluates and documents these numbers daily at dinner time for each climber.
VHF handheld radios – Three VHF radios carried on each trek, for quick comms between head and assistant guides at the back and front of the group, and the camp manager. An extra battery accompanies each radio.
Mobile phones are carried by all guides, for daily communications with our base in Arusha.
Satellite phone are carried at all times by the head guide, for use in emergencies (in areas with limited or poor mobile network). An extra battery accompanies each satellite phone. This allows us to make comms immediately, no matter where we are, during an emergency.
Medical equipment porter stays with the group at all times, to ensure that the safety gear is always nearby and ready to employ. We send a second medical equipment porter with every group, allowing us to split oxygen and other redundant emergency supplies.
A comprehensive safety briefing is performed by the head guide before the trek, covering expectations, risks, safety gear and proactive safety.
Climbing helmets are provided for all climbers and staff (on Western Breach only).
Climbing rope (50M x 10mm dynamic) for head guide to use for setting hand lines (on Western Breach only).
Ice axes are carried by all guides, for cutting steps in snow (on Western Breach only).
The best guiding team and crew:
Our mountain guides and core crew are recognized by the park management, competitors, and our clients as the most capable and professional crews on the mountain. Every single one of our mountain guides is Wilderness First Responder (WFR) trained and certified. We have almost 40 WFR certified guides in our organization, far more than any of our competitors. We have a group of core crew who are trained and developed as specialists in food service, hygiene management, and equipment management. None of our competitors reach this level of specialized training or development. Our guides and core crew have the best compensation packages on Kilimanjaro.
Crew we supply on each trek:
Wilderness First Responder Certified mountain guides – All of our mountain guides are currently certified /re-certified in April 2015 by Sentinel Outdoor Institute and are re-certified every 2 years.
Ratio of 1 guide per 2 guests (on average)
Western-Breach Route specific guides are trained by an expert on mountaineering techniques setting hand-lines with reliable anchors, route safety training, rock-fall protocol training, and use of ice axe for cutting steps and self-arrest.
Mountain chef – trained to the highest standards on a set menu plan accompanied by a detailed recipe book. We invest annually in training our cooks, reviewing and improving recipes, and doing special training on vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu plans.
Waiter – and assistant waiter on each trek are trained to expedite the meal service and ensure our climbers’ nourishment is their top priority. They also ensure that the dining tent is clean, organized and ready for you when you arrive at each camp.
Campsite Manager – provides expert setup and breakdown of each camp, practicing Leave No Trace outdoor ethics. He is also the head porter liaison on each trek, ensuring that porters are fairly loaded each day.
Camp setting crew – Our fastest porters ensure the very best camp location and tent sites each day!
Sanitary services crew – specialist crew trained in sanitary services, including the collection and treatment of drinking water, and managing hand-washing stations for crew and climbers.
Waste crew – most of our treks come with private toilet tents, outfitted with portable flush toilets. The waste crews maintain and clean these toilets, and ensure that toilet tissue and hand sanitizers are stocked. We also carry all our solid waste from campsites which are environmentally sensitive (ie. the Crater Camp), using the patented PETT toilets and ‘wag-bags’.
The leaders in ethical porter treatment standards
A Kilimanjaro climb would not be possible without porters. They are the backbone of all Kilimanjaro expeditions, and long have they been exploited by the tourism industry in Tanzania! However, a change has been occurring, and expectations of the porters are changing in coincidence with companies like us who are committed to practicing fair working conditions, honesty and transparency. The Kilimanjaro Porter’s Assistance Project (KPAP) has been the driving force of this change in attitude and practice for the past ten years. Based in Moshi, they are a Tanzanian non-governmental organization committed to improving the working conditions of the porters. We are proud of the role we have taken in creating and affecting change in revolutionizing how Kilimanjaro porters are chosen, outfitted, treated, paid and tipped. Quite simply, KPAP recognizes us as the leading example for ensuring proper treatment of the porters, with our systems and procedures.
On the mountain, it’s very clear which company takes the best care of its’ porters. We’re not only the leader in fair practices, but our porters literally stand out from the rest. We are the only company on Kilimanjaro providing professional matching outfits for all our porters. It’s a tangible and easily recognizable difference which separates us from all other companies. Having our porters in uniforms allows our guests to see which porters are ours, not only being able to easily identify them, but to recognize that our porters have the best boots and other gear, and the biggest smiles. Our guests continually tell us that our porters were consistently the most professional, friendly, helpful, courteous, and strongest porters they saw.
Ethical porter treatment practices we supply on each trek:
We ensure that porters do not have to pay bribes to get work. We’ve registered all our porters, and we choose them by means of a database which tracks all their work and their performance, and which chooses them in a way that fairly distributes the work. This is unique to ND, and no other company comes close to using this system.
We pay amongst the highest overall porter wages and bonuses, and go to extreme measures to ensure they receive their full salary. Overall, our porters receive one of the the highest compensation packages.
We go to excessive lengths to strictlyuphold weight limits for porter loads (20kg per porter). We carry scales on each trek to ensure that daily, loads are not exceeded, ever.
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.
We are the only company who provide matching professional waterproof and windproof raingear to ALL our porters on every trek.
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 in the event of injury, equal to that for paying trekkers.
We pay porters bonuses for removing waste left on the mountain by other companies.
Hearty meals are provided for our porters. A well-fed porter is stronger! We exceed the guidelines set forth by KPAP on feeding our staff, feeding them 3 meals a day. Most companies feed their porters one meal a day.
Private vehicle transport for all porters & return transport home at the end of each trek. Most companies only hire porters who are ‘available’ at the gate.
We provide wilderness first-aid, language and environmental responsibility training for our porters. We’ve translated Leave No Trace principles into Swahili and have done training with over 600 porters on these important aspects of LNT’s outdoor ethics.
We are committed to these fair practices, and have an experienced, professional, and passionate team of managers, guides and porter welfare officers to ensure that we are ‘on it’. We are widely recognized for these efforts by everyone, including the most important segment of the population – the porters! Because of our commitment to fair practices, we’ve attracted the most reliable, friendliest, honest and most dependable porters available.
Our camp is easily recognizable anywhere on the mountain. With more than 25 years experience of outfitting on Kilimanjaro, listening to our guests’ feedback, and pursuing our own passion for innovating, we’ve found the right combination of utility and form with our mountain equipment. Our kit is a combination of high-end manufactured mountain gear and functional purpose-designed and proprietary-designed gear made by our own full-time team of tent-tailors and metal craftsmen at our base facility in Arusha. We take great pride in having kit with the best look and function on Kilimanjaro.
Because top manufacturers’ round dining tents do not fit on Kili’s long and narrow tent sites, we designed and built our own customized mountain dining tents. We’re the only company to use a closed-cell foam pad which covers the entire sleeping tent footprint, which is something our guests learn to appreciate in wet weather.
We also offer a number of optional ‘comfort’ upgrades including large walk-in sleeping tents with framed beds, hot-showers, heaters for the dining tent, even a heated lounge tent with comfy inflatable chairs! >see photos of our Kilimanjaro Camps
Kilimanjaro camping gear we supply on the trek:
Mountain Hardwear Trango 3.1 sleeping tents (a three-person tent used as a double tent or single tent (with supplement)
All sleeping tents have custom-made ground sheets covering the both vestibules, to allow clean & dry storage of gear, and keeping water, mud or dust from entering the tent.
Cold-weather sleeping mats(closed cell foam) which cover the entire floor of the sleeping tent, ensuring that you (and all your gear) stays dry throughout the climb.
Large custom-designed and fabricated weatherproof dining tents with fly sheet, four doors, windows and ventilation, and full floors with storm skirt and ropes.
High powered solar LED lights in the dining tent – each tent has a long strip of powerful LED lights and an easy manual switch, for headlamp-free meals!
Aluminum dining tables – covered with Maasai-style tablecloths
Large aluminum chairs with backs and arm rests, for all meals.
Large private toilet tents with portable flush toilets on a stable frame. For 7+ climbers, two toilet tents are provided. Each toilet has hand-sanitizer available in a handy push-top dispenser.
In campsites without toilet facilities (ie. the Crater Camp), we use a special toilet made by Phillips Environmental which employs an absorbent powder, allowing us to pack out all solid human waste from the campsite. We adhere strictly to ‘Leave No Trace’ outdoor ethics.
Wash stands provided for washing hands before each meal
Fresh hand-towels provided for each climber, before each meal
Wash basins provided for each trekker, provided for each guest upen reaching camp
Hot waterbottles prepared each night, to keep you toasty in your sleeping bag.
We purify all our climbers’ and staff drinkingwater using the PUR packet. Please visit the following website which describes (and demonstrates) the product we are providing for purification of all drinking water for all our Kilimanjaro clients and staff: http://www.csdw.com/csdw/pur_packet.shtml
We offer high quality rental gear/trekking clothing like synthetic sleeping bags, Gore-Tex outer wear, warm layers, trekking poles, etc…
Luxury sleeping tent (optional) – A ‘walk-in’ tent with aluminum frame beds & soft foam mattresses, allowing trekkers to sleep off the ground. At night, powerful solar LED lights light the tent. The tent features four entrances, ventilation ports, a fly sheet and storm skirt & storm ropes, with closed cell mats for clean and dry storage of your bags.
Hot showers (optional) – Complete with a spacious rectangular framed tent, with a 15-liter solar shower bag perched on the top, shower mat and plenty of clothes hooks, plus bath towels.
Mess tent heater (optional) – Small propane space heaters are provided for warming up the mess-tent before and during dinner-time, which we burn for 2-3 hours per evening.
HeatedLounge tent (optional) – For the ultimate in comfort while climbing Africa’s tallest mountain, an optional heated lounge tent is available, with solar lights, inflatable furniture, and a large coffee table for playing cards, etc..
Solar charging kit(optional) – for cell phones, satellite phones, iPods and other music players and small devices (tablets). We provide a complete solar kit including a panel, a 12V DC / 7 AH /20HR battery and USB sockets for charging up to 2 USB devices simultaneously (while in camp only).
*We also offer a ‘LITE’ and “SUPERLITE’ trek condition, which has less camping gear for those who don’t need all the frills. These trek options are of course less expensive. Please contact us for details and information.
A commitment to practicing environmental responsibility
The word ‘ecotourism’ is often overused and likewise underperformed so easily. We take our role as environmental stewards seriously, with annual workshops for ALL our guides with Leave No Trace. We’ve translated the LNT literature into Swahili and are running workshops with over 600 porters, teaching them about the principles of outdoor ethics. We are a leader in environmental responsibility, actively involved in conservation efforts. We offset our carbon and invest in turning these emissions into natural forest in northern Tanzania. We pack out all human waste from Crater Camp (where there are no public toilet facilities). There are no other companies going to the lengths we go to practice environmental responsibility.
Environmentally responsible practices we employ on the mountain:
We practice Leave No Trace outdoor ethics – We are committed to LNT environmental standards, and as an official LNT partner, we one of the few companies in Tanzania practicing these principles. We ensure that no trash, food waste or solid human waste is left at any campsite or anywhere along the trail. We have regular training sessions with LNT instructors, and have taken it a step further: we’ve translated the LNT principles into Swahilli, and each time our management team meets with our porters (twice a year) we engage them in a dialogue about LNT practices. To learn more about Leave No Trace, please go to LNT.org.
Carbon Neutral: We purchase carbon credits for every trekker we take up Kilimanjaro, in official partnership with Carbon Tanzania. These payments account for well documented forestry activities that reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Eco-friendly office practices at our Arusha base facility, including:
– recycling of all plastics, glass and metals
– lighting exclusively by energy saving, low-wattage light bulbs
– composting all food scraps from our base kitchen along with yard scraps which fertilize our ½ acre organic vegetable garden. No synthetic or processed fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides are used in our garden.
Our menus have been developed by a team of professional cooks and mountain foodies who have long-term experience in food service in Tanzania. We continue to develop and improve our menu plans to create astonishingly great meals in such inhospitable environments, using only propane gas cookers. We produce and prepare many of our recipes in our Arusha base kitchen, using only fresh and high quality ingredients, for delicious and energizing meals necessary for high altitude mountain trekking. We have an exciting menu which includes inspired vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menu plans. We can also cater to guests’ allergies or faith-based dietary restrictions.
We take exception to the use of stock cubes, MSG, and processed foods. Our cooks are trained to produce the most delicious meals using real ingredients without shortcuts or additives. For our soups we use real butter & virgin olive oil instead of margarine and other cheap oils. We grow over 30 different herbs and vegetables in our ½ acre organic garden, We grow the basil used in preparing our pesto sauce, and the rosemary springs & garlic cloves which are infused in the fillet steak we serve on the final dinner on each trek. Even the bananas we grow are turned into a decadent banana bread, served for breakfast on day two of each trek.
Menu highlights on the mountain:
Menu training is constant (including a two-week intensive training session, annually). Each climb travels with a set recipe book written in Swahili, laminated with photos of each dish of each meal. These measures help ensure standards stay high, and we are constantly monitoring for quality and consistency of produce, and logging and evaluating our guests’ feedback comments about the food. We are serious about exceeding our trekkers’ expectations about mountain cuisine!
Organic produce from our ½ acre garden at our office base.
Homemade Trail snacks – including our own dried fruit and delicious dehydrated (not baked) energy bars, produced in our own kitchen.
We design and fabricate our own mountain cool boxes to keep foods fresh.
Homemade cookies, cakes, breads and desserts are produced in our own kitchen. Our head baker, Dennis Mchimbi makes ten different types of bread, and is famous in Arusha for the most decadent chocolate cake available in East Africa (you’ll find this out at dessert time on the evening of your first night on Kilimanjaro).
Snacks upon arrival in camp, including yummy Tanzanian doughnuts (mandazi), and other treats.
French press coffee(optional), served in insulated stainless steel French-Press cafetieres, with the best Tanzanian ground coffee (from Kimemo Estates).
Fancy cheese platter(optional), a selection of choice cheeses served with locally produced crackers, at the start or end of your trek.
Sparkling wine(optional), served in glass flutes at the gate, to celebrate your success reaching Uhuru Peak.
There are arguably no other companies on Kilimanjaro who have the same focus, passion, experience and expertise as we do. We have more than twenty years experience running treks on Kilimanjaro, and we have climbed every route, visited every campsite, and hiked ever meter of trail on the mountain. We are specialists, and devote much of our time and energy into making our Kili services the most professional, organized and responsible. We are passionate about Kilimanjaro. We’ve built an impeccable reputation for what we do, and we’re proud to be considered the leaders of the pack! Our managers are extremely hands-on, and we have custom designed the service from top to bottom. We value teamwork and make continual efforts to improve, by evaluating ourselves and our competition. We consistently get fantastic feedback from our climbers, and likewise from the park authorities and our own staff.