The story of Altezza Travel
We’ve traveled to Uganda and climbed Mount Stanley. We hiked green Mount Kenya and took fantastic safaris in Zambia, Namibia and South Africa. We visited the beaches and forests of Madagascar, the jungles of Congo and the famous Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
While each of these places in Africa are unique and exciting, our experience in Tanzania was exceptional. In fact, it was so incredible that we decided to stay and start a business in Tanzania.
This is a brief history of Altezza Travel and how we started in Tanzania.
In 2012, we first climbed Kilimanjaro and noticed how other companies were operating safaris and running climbing expeditions and we were sure we could do better. So, we decided to take a risk and try - and we’ve never looked back!
It hasn’t always been easy, but we are passionate about Tanzania and want to share our love of this beautiful country and interesting nature with clients. We truly love what we do and are proud to run a great tourism and climbing expedition business in Tanzania.
✓ The most beautiful mountain in the world is here! Kilimanjaro has incredibly picturesque landscapes, and can be summitted year-round. Although it is the highest peak in Africa, expeditions are not as difficult as in the Himalayas or in the Andes. This is the only place in Africa where you can see glaciers.
✓ Tanzania has the largest population of wildlife in Africa. While you can go on safaris in other countries, the most amazing safaris are in Tanzania. Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is here that the Great Animal Migration takes place every year - a unique phenomenon that has been documented by National Geographic and Animal Planet and draws thousands of visitors every year.
The largest populations of lions, cheetahs, zebras, elephants, giraffes and other large mammals of Africa live in Tanzania, wild and free. If you want to see animals in their natural habitat, Tanzania is the place for African safaris.
✓ The most peaceful nation in East Africa. Tanzania is very stable, and has been a peaceful nation for decades. Communities live in quiet and peace - visitors will see police, but they are conducting traffic and giving tickets for minor violations such as speeding.
✓ Pleasant Weather. It rains in Tanzania for only a couple of months in the spring and about a month in the fall. The rest of the time the weather is nice and sunny, and traveling through the parks is a pleasure! Along the coast, the weather is warm and tropical, while the highlands of the mountains receive cooler temperatures and plenty of sunshine.
✓ Near the Indian Ocean. After climbing Kilimanjaro or going on a safari in mainland Tanzania, many travelers choose to visit Tanzania’s beaches. The islands of Zanzibar, Mafia and Pemba offer wonderful lodges, white sand and an amazing underwater world for diving and snorkeling, all within the nation of Tanzania.
✓ Less crowds, fewer tourists. Compared to neighboring countries, Tanzania has quite high fees to enter national parks. Despite the increased cost, there are some advantages to this: Tanzania’s parks are not crowded and tourists will experience authentic Tanzania, not a ‘faux culture’ or exaggerations to impress tourists. While there are not many tourists in the parks, there are a lot more animals than in Kenya, Malawi, Botswana or surrounding countries.
✓ Tanzanians are very friendly people. Tanzanians are well-mannered, reserved and friendly. Yes, they usually are a bit conservative and religious, but they welcome visitors and will go out of their way to help you enjoy your stay. Tanzanians are hardworking and passionate about their country; they make up the majority of our team.
The first Altezza Travel Team was composed of a diverse bunch of dreamers: IT personnel, a lawyer, and an international teacher. What we all had in common?
None of us had previous experience in tourism.
It was a learning experience for all of us.
Despite our lack of experience in the tourism sector, we all carried a clear vision for Altezza Travel:
These remain our guiding principles.
While our team was diverse, we each brought something unique; technical and computer knowledge, management experience, knowledge of foreign languages, art and design and writing competency.
Over the past decade, we had learned the ins and outs of operating in Tanzania. We know exactly how to provide mountain expeditions that are safe, while exciting and memorable. We also have mastered the special touches to make a safari absolutely amazing. Because we are on-the-ground and spend a great deal of time in Northern Tanzania, we are the first to know about all the events that can affect travel around the country. We continue to travel a lot in Tanzania, discovering new and exciting destinations for our travelers.
Altezza Travel continues to grow and we are regularly adding new staff to our team. What we look for in new employees goes beyond the resume - we want to know if they carry the same mission and vision we do.
Altezza Travel will continue to uphold the ideals of safe, memorable and comfortable safaris, because we ensure our staff value these things, too.
We have even developed a special training program for all new Altezza staff, known as “Altezza Bootcamp”. In this way, we know that all of our staff are experts in their positions, having traveled to all the national parks where they will take you on safari, and having climbed Kilimanjaro many times before they become guides.
Our employees do not rely on theories - they know Tanzania from experience.
You can read more about our team here.
History of Altezza Travel
How we became one of the leaders of the tourism industry in Tanzania
While we were building what Altezza Travel to be what it is today, hundreds of interesting events happened to us - enough for a whole book! Someday we will write it, but for now - here are the highlights of our development:
✓ We fell in love with Tanzania
After climbing Kilimanjaro and visiting Tanzania’s amazing national parks, we continued on to other African nations. We visited Namibia, Madagascar, Kenya, Uganda, Congo and Zambia, despite these being beautiful countries, we found ourselves comparing every experience to our adventure in Tanzania. It was soon clear to us that we wanted to return and set up a business. Right away we started planning to return and put down roots in beautiful Tanzania.
✓ First Steps of Altezza Travel
We returned to Tanzania to find out where we should settle. Our team traveled to the northern, southern and western parks, visited the islands of Zanzibar, Mafia and Pemba. We climbed Kilimanjaro again, as well as Meru and the Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano. We also visited Dar es Salaam and all the major cities of Tanzania. It became clear - Kilimanjaro was where we wanted to be, and we opened our first office in Moshi, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Later this same year, our first safari fleet of Land Cruisers arrived, and we began to conduct safari tours in Northern Tanzania.
At first, there were only five of us and we did everything ourselves: we met clients, went to banks, booked hotels and held briefings before expeditions. As the number of clients grew we started adding more members to our team. By the end of the year, our staff had doubled to a team of ten.
The Tanzania Investment Promotion Authority has marked our company as one of the key investors in tourism. We were given a certificate that allowed foreign employees to work in the country and pay less taxes when clearing customs for equipment for safari tours and expeditions to Kilimanjaro.
A Year of Extraordinary Achievements
This was a very busy year! More travelers chose Altezza to organize their trip to Tanzania. We also had some amazing opportunities to lead unique, world-record breaking expeditions in 2015. Here are some of the highlights:
✓ We led Angela Vorobyova on her world-record breaking summit of Kilimanjaro. At the age of 86, she became the oldest person to make an oxygen-free ascent to the top of Africa. Angela's achievement is listed in the Guinness Book of Records
✓ Altezza guides led the expedition of Valery Rozov and the Red Bull team as Valery made a historical achievement of the first (and only) parachute jump in a wingsuit from the top of Kilimanjaro. Up to now, Tanzania has never seen anything like it.
✓ Altezza also organized the expedition of Stefan Siegrist, who set the world record for slackline on Kilimanjaro. He performed an amazing feat of balance at an incredible altitude.
That same year, residents of the USA and Europe began to take an interest in our expeditions. While still new, this attention meant Altezza Travel was ready to compete with companies that had been established in Tanzania for decades.
✓ Aishi Machame and Altezza Lodge Hotels
In 2016, we purchased our two hotels - Altezza Lodge in Moshi and Aishi Machame near the entrance to Kilimanjaro National Park. By this time, the number of Altezza Travel clients began to exceed one thousand people a year and now we could offer our own exclusive accommodations.
✓ New partnerships
Large travel agencies have started working with us - “7 Summits Club”, “Alpindustria”, “Ranger Safaris”, “The Clymb” and others asked to team up with us for climbs in Tanzania.
Also this year, Evgeny Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab (the company that has released the most famous antivirus software), climbed with us.
✓ New cars for our fleet
In 2017, we significantly expanded our fleet of cars. New Land Cruisers and Toyota Alphards arrived from Japan so that our clients could ride in comfort for their transfers and safaris.
✓ We created “Make A Story”
We know that traveling to Tanzania is not just ‘another vacation’, but an adventure that has been dreamt of for years. In order to help realize the high expectations of clients, we wanted every aspect of the planning stages to run smoothly and reduce as much human error as possible. Especially for mountain climbing, we cannot risk making mistakes.
Therefore, in 2017, we began developing our own expedition management system, “Make a Story”. It allows us to effectively control all details of our climbing expeditions and safaris. For example, if a traveler reports that he needs a gluten-free meal, then such information automatically goes to the head of expeditions, guides, and mountain chefs. This minimizes the chances of important client details being lost or overlooked.
For Kilimanjaro climbs, on the second day of the climb, the system reminds us to prepare fresh food to be sent up to the team on Kilimanjaro, and calculates the required amount depending on the number of climbers and sends a corresponding request to our warehouse, too.
In general, our system does almost everything to anticipate and prevent mistakes that employees sometimes make. A team of talented developers are constantly working on “Make a Story”, expanding its capabilities from year to year.
✓ New tents for climbing Kilimanjaro
Together with a team of English engineers, we developed the Altezza Kilimanjaro Tent. These amazing tents emphasize comfort for clients while they are climbing, and they are only available on our expeditions. We are the first company on Kilimanjaro to use full-height tents, so clients can stand up straight in them and walk around, too. The tents are connected with each other by tunnels, through which you can comfortably move between tents, such as walk to the dining hall and back to your sleeping tent without having to step out into the rain or wind. This allows us to comfortably carry out expeditions along the "tent" routes, even in the rainy season.
✓ Collaboration with Kilimanjaro Animal Crew
This year, we began to work closely with the Kilimanjaro Animal CREW project. Kilimanjaro Animal CREW is the only wildlife rehabilitation center in Tanzania, and it emphasizes rehabilitation as much as possible. Here, orphaned elephants are cared for until they can safely be released into the wild. We work with rangers from the national parks to return injured or orphaned animals back to the parks in a safe, responsible way. Our center is also home to a few animals with significant injuries that cannot be returned to the wild. The Center cares for them and uses their stories to help educate others about caring for Tanzania’s most important natural resource - its wildlife.
Today, the rehabilitation center is home to baby elephants, zebras, antelopes, a serval cat and a cheetah, as well as many other rescued animals.
You can read more about our social projects in this article.
✓ Snowstorm on Kilimanjaro hit Kilimanjaro
In September of this same year, a very heavy snowstorm hit Kilimanjaro. While Kilimanjaro does regularly see some snow, this year, so much snow fell that the National Parks’ Administration decided to close the uppert camps for climbers. Several hundred climbers were forced to turn back without reaching the summit because of the deep snow.
Altezza Travel took action, we quickly assembled an expedition, which included the best guides of our company and they cleared the route to the summit of Kilimanjaro, opening the way for climbers from all tour operators in Tanzania.
Altezza Travel was honored by the National Parks administration for our efforts, and they reopened the camps to allow for climbers to summit Africa’s highest mountain once again.
✓ Kilimanjaro Mountain Guide Championship
In the fall, during the “low” season, we hosted the Kilimanjaro Mountain Guide Championship. More than two hundred people submitted applications to participate in this challenge! In the end, it was an amazing contest showcasing physical fitness, how to use rescue equipment, and knowledge of the nature and history of Kilimanjaro.
The winners were invited to work at Altezza Travel.
✓ Wings of Kilimanjaro Project
We were chosen to organize the “Wings of Kilimanjaro” project. 20 experienced paragliders from all over the world gathered on Kilimanjaro for a massive rally from the summit of Africa. Usually we send an average of 200 climbers up Kilimanjaro each week, and it's not a problem for us to prepare a climb for a group of 20 people. However, 20 paragliders in one group is a different thing! It was amazing to organize this first-ever adventure - we organized everything for their climb, as well as how to deliver their special equipment to the top of the mountain. There were more than 250 people on our team who helped to make this vision a reality.
✓ Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor
Our company has received many positive reviews from travelers, and TripAdvisor has issued us a Certificate of Excellence. We are delighted to be recognized for our high standard of service on our expeditions.
You can read reviews of our company on TripAdvisor here.
✓ Helped Tanzanian children to climb Kilimanjaro
Also in this year, Altezza Travel was approached by a team of young students from Tanzania. As part of their studies, they had the unique opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, however, they did not have proper equipment. Altezza Travel outfitted the young climbers with modern equipment for a safe expedition.
✓ Expeditions with the team “Heads and Tails”
We started to organize direct expeditions for the team of the project “Heads and Tails”. Unlike the traditional travel show format, now anyone can take part in these expeditions. The report is then published on the project's official Youtube channel, where your friends and millions of other travel lovers can watch it!
Since 2019, we have been conducting such expeditions twice a year. Please contact our managers for additional information.
The COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. Travel plans were stopped all around the world, and Tanzania was no exception. However, this caused a major problem for many tour operators in Tanzania. Altezza Travel decided that during such unsure times, the most important thing was to support our team, and assist our clients.
For our guests, we offered full refunds without penalties on all paid tours.
For our employees, we did not let go of a single staff member.
During the quarantine, we did not rest, instead we used this time to improve ourselves. We knew that eventually, the borders would re-open, and we wanted to be ready. We bought new equipment, trained our guides even more, and planned interesting, unique expeditions and safaris for our future guests.
✓ Kilimanjaro Wildfire
In October 2020, Kilimanjaro suffered a major wildfire. The fire spread very quickly along the slopes, threatening to destroy a large area of forest and important moorland. The government requested assistance from Altezza Travel right away, and we assembled a team to take immediate action. Together with the park rangers, our guides and porters dug ditches and covered fires with sand, and the Altezza Travel office team delivered food and equipment to the participants in the fight against the raging fire. In total, more than 100 people from Altezza Travel (more than half of all volunteers who participated) took part in extinguishing the wildfire.
For participation in extinguishing the fire, Altezza Travel was awarded an honorary diploma from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism of Tanzania.
In July, 2020, Altezza Travel conducted the first Kilimanjaro expeditions after the general quarantine. We were pleasantly surprised that the first travelers who ventured to fly to Tanzania after the peak of the epidemic trusted our company.
✓ New route to Kilimanjaro
Thomas Laemmle, the famous mountaineer from Germany, who has conquered Mount Everest, shared with us the details of a new route to Kilimanjaro for experienced climbers. The route begins on the southern slope of the mountain, but continues through the Northern Ice Field, with a descent into the crater of Kilimanjaro. Such an ascent requires a high level of physical fitness for participants. We are one of the only companies prepared to lead such unique expeditions, upon special request, only.
✓ Skyrunning Expeditions to Kilimanjaro
In 2020 we conducted two skyrunning expeditions to Kilimanjaro. The participants reached Uhuru Peak in less than 24 hours! Most of the distance, the participants ran down the slope. We were also proud to say that our guides showed a high level of fitness and ability, as they ran on a par with trained athletes.
Before the race, the participants conducted an acclimatization expedition, spending several days in the Kilimanjaro crater. This helped them get used to the altitude and complete the race without problems because of the elevation of Kilimanjaro.
✓ Altezza Travel Football Team
Tanzanians are very fond of sports, and especially soccer (called football over here) - many students dream of playing professional soccer. Unfortunately, there are not many opportunities for students, especially those from impoverished families. Local children in rural areas are often seen playing soccer, with a homemade ball often made by scrap pieces of cloth.
Altezza Travel decided to support young athletes in the nearby villages. In the Machame area (located near one of the most popular climbing routes for Kilimanjaro), we have organized a football team for students from local schools. Now the kids have all the necessary equipment and a professional coach so that they can have more opportunities to learn the sport they love, as well as develop positive characteristics like teamwork and increase their self confidence.
✓ Altezza Travel is the largest travel company in Kilimanjaro
In these few years, Altezza Travel has grown to be the largest travel company in Kilimanjaro! In the first climbing season after quarantine, more than fifteen hundred people chose Altezza Travel. This is just over 15% of the total number of climbers who have visited the top of Kilimanjaro during the past post-quarantine period.
We were very surprised, because we never chased numbers and had never dreamed of surpassing some of the major operators in Tanzania. We emphasize a personal approach and do not believe in streamlining tourism. We are very pleased that good prices, safety and comfort, have attracted so many guests to our expeditions.
More than forty people already work in our office. Our hotels employ around 100 staff members. Our mountain crews boast the highest numbers - 1,500 in total: composed of guides, porters, chefs and other climbing specialists.
We still have more plans to continue growing, and ambitious projects in our future. If you travel with Altezza, you’re sure to have an exceptional experience.
Travel with Altezza Travel!