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Best Kilimanjaro Tour Operators 2024

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When you google "climb Kilimanjaro," the search will show websites of dozens of operators. At first, they might all seem the same, each promising a safe and enjoyable adventure with professional guides. Conversations with their consultants often reinforce these assurances. Considering that the prices among them vary hugely, making a decision is often difficult.

However, choosing the right operator for your trek is critical. Four out of ten climbers fail to reach the summit due to tour operator's unrealistic promises. More seriously, 5-10 climbers die annually on Kilimanjaro from high-altitude sickness complications. While Kilimanjaro is generally a safe climb, this number should trigger caution.

We've compiled a list of the seven best Kilimanjaro operators for expeditions in 2024. Having lived in Kilimanjaro for ten years, the authors of this article saw them in action and can confirm that they are trustworthy. Yet, each is unique in some way. Below, we will tell you how.

High-altitude camp on Mount Kilimanjaro
High-altitude camp on Mount Kilimanjaro

You will need about 15 minutes to read this article. If you don’t have the time for that — here is a curated list of whom you should be considering for your trip to Uhuru Peak. All these companies are safe and reliable to travel with.

1. Altezza Travel
2. Tusker Trail
3. Thomson Treks
4. Summits Africa
5. Follow Alice
6. KiliWarriors
7. African Scenic

Below we'll explain how we selected the companies for this list, and why our opinion is trustworthy. You’ll also find a short description of each company.

Why our opinion is trustworthy?

We have been working in the Kilimanjaro climbing industry since 2014. Over these years, we've closely observed how different companies operate, talked to the park rangers, guides and porters of other companies, and reviewed feedback from climbers on platforms like TripAdvisor. Living in Tanzania, we see what really happens on Kilimanjaro. And not just what tour operators choose to show on their websites and in the media.

Grey Heron
Tony and Dmitriy both regularly hike Mt Kilimanjaro
Tony and Dmitriy both regularly hike Mt Kilimanjaro

Disclaimer: The authors of this article are members of the Altezza Travel team. However, the aim of this piece is not to promote Altezza Travel's services. Instead, our objective is to guide potential climbers toward responsible operators, regardless of whether it's Altezza or another good company.

Selecting the best operators to climb Kilimanjaro

When choosing Kilimanjaro operators for this article, we looked at the following factors:

Local presence. Each company on our list operates directly on Mount Kilimanjaro. We didn't analyze travel agencies that simply resell the climbs of local providers.

Established record. On this list, we included experienced operators who have led successful trips for 5+ years with 700-800+ customers a year. Most companies on our list exceed a decade in operation.

Personal observation. Our assessment included firsthand observations of these companies in action on Mount Kilimanjaro. We have lived in Tanzania since 2013 and personally climb Kilimanjaro 4-5 times annually. This allows us to observe how different Kilimanjaro trekking companies work. We often talk with guides and porters of various companies and park rangers in the camps.

Porter welfare. A fundamental criterion for our selection was membership in the Kilimanjaro Porter Assistance Project (KPAP). By becoming a member, the companies prove that they treat their mountain crews well. This includes providing fair wages, regular meals, and good working conditions. Non-members are not listed in this article.

Porters are the backbone of all expeditions
Porters are the backbone of all expeditions

Positive local impact. The companies selected demonstrate a strong sense of social responsibility. This includes initiatives and contributions that positively impact the local communities and environment in Tanzania, going beyond the core business of climbing Kilimanjaro.

In comparing the best operators for a Kilimanjaro climb, we focused on the value they deliver for the price charged, the variety of experiences offered, and their involvement in unique projects. We also considered other key factors like customer service and safety records.

The pricing benchmark of our rating

When talking about the price, we used the standard 7-day Machame route trek as a benchmark. This route is among the most popular choices for those looking to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Altezza camp on Kilimanjaro on a rainy day.
Altezza camp on Kilimanjaro on a rainy day.

If you consider climbing Mount Kilimanjaro via a different route, we've got you covered too. All Kilimanjaro tour operators on our list are equipped to offer climbs via the Rongai route, Lemosho route, Marangu route, Northern Circuit route, or other traditional routes.

What do all responsible operators have in common?

All the tour companies on our list have quality camping and dining equipment and prioritize client safety. Each has amazing guides, most of whom are Certified Wilderness First Responders. Such guides know what to do when a climber shows the symptoms of altitude sickness. In addition, they have the skills to manage the camp, administer first aid, and organize an evacuation.

All companies on our list are registered with the Kilimanjaro Porter Assistance Project (KPAP). This ensures that they adhere to fair employee treatment standards and take good care of their climbing crews.

Ensuring a safe working environment for mountain teams is a crucial concern. This is especially true for developing travel destinations like Tanzania. The KPAP certification is the sole verifiable method to guarantee that your chosen operator treats their crew fairly. Explore more details in our article. Also, check out our short video about KPAP and the role of porters in Kilimanjaro climbs at the end of this piece.

Mount Kilimanjaro porters are some of the strongest people you will ever meet
Mount Kilimanjaro porters are some of the strongest people you will ever meet

All operators below prioritize client safety with rigorous protocols, ensuring that every trip is safe and comfortable. The positive reviews across multiple platforms for these companies affirm their reliability.Overall, choosing any of these operators will likely result in an amazing climb for you.

Note: These insights present our opinion based on: 1) publicly available information 2) discussions within the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators 3) talks with Kilimanjaro guides and porters 4) personal experiences on Mount Kilimanjaro and 5) reviews on open platforms. However,we do not have insider knowledge of these companies. Therefore, we cannot be held accountable for Kilimanjaro climbing tours with operators other than Altezza.

#1 Altezza Travel

Price for a standard 7-day Machame route trek: $2557

Among all the companies offering Kilimanjaro climbs, Altezza Travel is the largest, both on this list and in the industry overall. Annually, Altezza handles over 4500 climbers across more than 800 expeditions. In addition, Altezza Travel has earned the #1 ranking on TripAdvisor.

A group of Altezza trekkers and climbing team, Kilimanjaro
A group of Altezza trekkers and climbing team, Kilimanjaro

Although founded by non-Tanzanians, the core team of Altezza Travel, including its founders, have made Tanzania their home. Our company operates exclusively in Tanzania, with all taxes paid and 100% of earnings spent within the country. We have built expertise around climbing Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru, and do not offer trips to other mountain destinations.

Of the 250+ members of our office and ground teams, 99% are local Tanzanians. In the climbing crew, we have 1600+ locals. As of today, Altezza Travel is the largest tourism employer in Kilimanjaro.In addition, most of our core team are energetic people in their 30s passionate about Tanzania. They are also true experts when it comes to Kilimanjaro, with lots of first-hand experience.

How is Altezza different from other operators?

Gear rental shop. Altezza Travel has the largest rental gear shop in Kilimanjaro. All climbers can easily access it on the spot if they don’t have their own hiking equipment. Other operators on our list may offer sleeping bags and jackets, among a few other items. However, at the Altezza rental store, you can get every piece of equipment needed, from hiking poles to appropriate footwear.We update our extensive inventory every year with the best top-brand gear.

If you don't have your own hiking gear, you’ll find everything you may need at the Altezza store.
If you don't have your own hiking gear, you’ll find everything you may need at the Altezza store.

Hiking equipment. Of all Kilimanjaro operators, Altezza Travel has the largest stock of camping equipment to ensure comfort and safety. We have over 300 sturdy 4-season mountain tents. Our inventory of 400+ oxygen tanks is also the largest in the industry. In fact, this is more than all other operators on Kilimanjaro have combined.This number allows us to use oxygen not only when a client develops symptoms of altitude mountain sickness but also from the early days of the hike to make acclimatization easier.

Altezza’s approach to oxygen management in a nutshell:

Altezza’s approach to oxygen management in a nutshell

Two medical check-ups a day. Every morning Altezza guides perform medical checks for both the crew and the clients. This helps to identify the first signs of mountain sickness and adjust the hiking pace to optimize acclimatization. We keep individual medical cards for each participant to see how acclimatization progresses, and how a hiker is feeling throughout the trek.

Comprehensive medical kits. Altezza Travel is the only company to carry comprehensive medical kits. They cover the majority of health issues that may arise on the mountain. The kits include over 50 medication types for various injuries and emergencies.As far as we know, other operators carry only standard Kilimanjaro medication. For example, Diamox for high altitude, and Ibuprofen as a painkiller. Some advise the clients to bring their own medical kits.

Camp medical kit of Altezza Travel
Camp medical kit of Altezza Travel

You may read more about Altezza’s medical kits in this article.

Trusted by partners. Altezza is the chosen Kilimanjaro climb operator for Nimsdai, a celebrated climber and Netflix star. In addition, we are trusted by the Wings of Kilimanjaro project, Red Bull athletes like Valerii Rozov and Stephan Siegrist, among many others.

Hotels. Finally, Altezza Travel is one of the few companies to own two hotels near Mount Kilimanjaro. As of 2024 Aishi Lodge and Brubru Lodge are in the company's portfolio. This allows us to make the itineraries even more smooth and comfortable for our clients.

Impactful collaboration with the Kilimanjaro National Park. Altezza Travel works closely with the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority to overcome challenges on Mount Kilimanjaro. In 2020 and 2022, we sent the biggest task force among all Kilimanjaro operators to fight the wildfires on Kilimanjaro.

We also regularly participate in cleaning initiatives on Kilimanjaro. Altezza Travel sends a special "garbage" crew to pick up trash left by trekkers on Kilimanjaro every three months.

You may read about other social projects of Altezza here.

Easy booking experience. Instead of sending large emails and PDF itineraries, Altezza uses a custom-designed Make a Story itinerary builder. A client gets a single link with all information about the trip. All trip essentials become easily accessible from both mobile and desktop.

See an example here.

Lowest deposits. Of all operators, Altezza Travel sets itself apart by requiring the lowest deposit payment. A climber needs to pay just $100 to secure the spot.

Regular guaranteed join group departures. Altezza Travel has the highest number of guaranteed join group departures. Our expeditions start every other day.

Kilimanjaro departures are almost daily at Altezza Travel
Kilimanjaro departures are almost daily at Altezza Travel

Each departure is guaranteed. This means that the trip will proceed as planned even if there is just one climber. Such an approach eliminates the uncertainty often associated with group tours. We may open a new group upon request, allowing travelers to share the journey and costs with other like-minded hikers.

The list of Altezza join group trips is available through this link.

In case you’re not sure if you need a private or a group trip, this video explains the difference:

In case you’re not sure if you need a private or a group trip, this video explains the difference

#2 Tusker Trail

Price for a standard 7-day Machame route trek: $3,180

Tusker Trail is one of the oldest companies operating on Kilimanjaro. It has been a well-known member of the Kilimanjaro tour companies since its inception in 1977. Founded by Eddie Frank, a legendary foreign guide on Kilimanjaro, Tusker has consistently led high-quality climbs. Eddie Frank's expertise and personal touch have been passed down to generations of guides.

Tusker Trail and Altezza Travel are competitors. However, we share a goal to improve the Kilimanjaro climbing experience at large. Our head of Kilimanjaro expeditions, Dmitriy, regularly talks with Justin, Tusker's head of Tanzania operations. As we both prioritize climbers' positive experiences and fair treatment of Kilimanjaro mountain crews, this bond goes beyond competition.

Overall, Tusker Trail is a good company to climb Kilimanjaro with.

How is Tusker different from other operators?

Range of destinations. Tusker Trail's expertise extends beyond Tanzania to other popular climbing destinations. They offer treks to the Everest Base Camp,Mongolia, and Iceland.

Video archive. If you want to see African expeditions from the past, check out Tusker's website. They have travel videos filmed by Eddie Frank in the 1990s, as well as some videos from today's trips.

By the way, if you prefer watching to reading, consider visiting Altezza Travel's YouTube channel. There we have many high-quality videos about our Kilimanjaro trips.

Community work. Tusker Trail supports the Msandaka School for Deaf Children in Kilimanjaro. This initiative provides audio-impaired children with opportunities for education and personal development.

Fundraising climbs. Tusker Trail frequently organizes fundraising climbs. This is done to support noble causes such as cancer treatment, education for underprivileged children, and various other socially significant initiatives.

#3 Thomson Treks (Thomson Safaris)

Price for a standard 7-day Machame trek: $4,290

Thompson's main office is located in the USA. Thompson, akin to Tusker, are known for organizing quality and safety-focused Kilimanjaro climbs. Rick and Judi, the company's founders, have years of industry experience. They are well-known in the Tanzania tourism world.

How is Thompson different from other companies?

Thompson's has a large team in the USA. This partially accounts for their higher pricing compared to other operators. However, for some customers dealing with fellow Americans may be more convenient than with the EU- or Tanzania-based consultants.

Award-winning company. As a long-standing player in the industry, Thomson Safaris has earned numerous awards. These include accolades from National Geographic and Travel + Leisure.

Social responsibility. Thompson contributes to Tanzanian communities through their own foundation, Focus on Tanzanian Communities. This foundation helps poor communities in Tanzania with education, clean water, and healthcare.

#4 Summits Africa

Price for a standard 7-day Machame trek: unknown, booked through various travel agencies

Founded in 2001, Summits Africa is one of the oldest Kilimanjaro trekking companies. It is a 100% local enterprise, fully run by Tanzanians. They operate not just on Kilimanjaro. Branch offices have been opened in Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, and Kenya.

Distinctively, you can’t book a trek with Summits Africa directly. All trek reservations are handled by the various partnered travel agencies. The reason for that is simple. Summits Africa only has guides and porters on their team. There are no managers or ground consultants. The only thing they do is lead the groups. Such a business model inevitably means that a portion of the client's payment is retained outside Tanzania. This factor may influence the decision of conscious travelers.

How is Summits Africa different from other companies?

Apart from working with travel agencies only, Summits Africa became famous with their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the crisis erupted, instead of suspending their operations, this company founded a communal farm. By farming together and selling their produce, they were able to support their families during these challenging times. This initiative not only demonstrated resilience but also stood as a commendable example of impactful community action in Tanzania.

#5 Follow Alice

Price for a standard 7-day Machame trek: $2,695

Follow Alice, a relatively new tour company in Kilimanjaro. It has been making a notable impact since 2014. Distinct from seasoned operators like Tusker and Thompson, Follow Alice shares similarities with Altezza in its modern approach to working culture. The company's team members are mostly in their 20s and 30s. They are actively using modern IT solutions in both marketing and operations. The company has offices in the UK and in Tanzania.

How is Follow Alice different from other companies?

Many destinations. Follow Alice offers a variety of trips, not just limited to Kilimanjaro. They also offer expeditions in Asia, South America, and Europe, collaborating with local companies in these regions. On Kilimanjaro, they offer regular group departures for climbers with different schedules.

Positive team. Our brief interactions with the Follow Alice team revealed a friendly and positive team.

Informative website. Their website and online presence stand out. Follow Alice have well-written materials and engaging videos about climbing Kilimanjaro, packing tips, and other essential info for an amazing experience in Tanzania. They offer valuable insights and a friendly introduction to the Kilimanjaro climbing experience.

#6 African Scenic

Price for a standard 7-day Machame trek: $2,699

African Scenic Safaris holds a special place on our list and shares a strong bond with Altezza Travel. As a 100% Tanzanian company, it is led by a friendly director, Simbo Natai. Their Kilimanjaro climbs are safe and, from what we see in the reviews, comfortable. Like Altezza Travel, African Scenic also focuses its operations exclusively within Tanzania.

African Scenic shows a strong commitment to social responsibility in Tanzania. They do this through their foundation, Path to Africa. Also, they are the first company in Tanzania to receive Travelife Partner certification. This further demonstrates their commitment to sustainable travel.

This company is also actively working with volunteers willing to contribute to positive social change in Africa. If you want to spend 2-3 months in the country helping women's advocacy groups, teaching Tanzanian kids English, helping out in hospitals, or doing conservation projects, consider contacting them.

#7 Kiliwarrior Expeditions

Price for a standard 7-day Machame trek: $4,200

On the Kiliwarrior Expeditions website, there isn’t any information about open join group expeditions. But we have noted their presence on Kilimanjaro. Based on our observations and their pricing range, we believe that among all the companies on our list, Kiliwarriors is the smallest. The head office of Kiliwarriors is located in Canada.

Kiliwarriors actively promote their trips by teaming up with bloggers and social media influencers.

Kiliwarrior Expeditions is one of the few companies regularly running Western Breach climbs. It is the only route on Kilimanjaro with a real rockfall risk, and prior experience is highly advised to sign up for this climb. Yet, it is very scenic. It is certainly a great way to explore Kilimanjaro off-the-beaten-track. At Altezza, we organize Western breach climbs on demand but admit experienced trekkers only. Signing a waiver is necessary.

Other climbing Kilimanjaro operators worth mentioning

Several trekking companies, although prominent online, haven't been included in our list. This includes Pristine Trails and Ultimate Kilimanjaro. They have informative websites with professionally written articles and accurate information about Kilimanjaro. However, our interactions with them have been limited. We haven't had the opportunity to meet their managers or talk to their team members, though we do see their expeditions on Kilimanjaro.

Foreign-based travel agencies

Large international travel agencies like Intrepid Travel, World Expeditions, and G Adventures typically collaborate with local providers for their Kilimanjaro climbs. This can lead to less direct control over clients' experience. Unlike companies specializing solely on Kilimanjaro, these agencies offer a wide array of trips globally.

Their consultants might not have personal experience climbing Kilimanjaro. While they possess good general knowledge, specific industry insights might be overlooked.

However, unlike Tanzania-based tour operators,most of these companies are B Corp-certified. The certification is something that shows their commitment to sustainable travel.

The pitfalls of booking Mount Kilimanjaro climbs with cheap operators

When considering a Kilimanjaro trek, it's tempting to opt for the most budget-friendly options. However, operators offering 7-day Machame climbs for less than $2300 often come with significant pitfalls. These include:

Mistreatment of porters

A critical issue with low-cost operators is the mistreatment of porters and other employees. These operators often pay low or no wages. They expect porters to rely solely on tips, which may not be fairly distributed. Additionally, inadequate food supplies and lack of proper clothing for the porters are ways these operators cut costs. Budget operators often cannot afford to treat their staff well. Such practices lead to unsafe working conditions and many fatalities annually.

Responsible tour operators make sure their staff is treated fairly and adequately compensated. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, having KPAP membership is essential. If a company asserts that it is paying its crews well, but is not a KPAP member, this is certainly untrue. For over 10 years we spent on Kilimanjaro we haven’t seen a single operator paying above KPAP minimum, and opting out from membership. There are simply no reasons for that. Membership in KPAP is free and it offers immense marketing and social benefits to its members.

Check this short video to learn more about the KPAP and their work in Kilimanjaro:

Check this short video to learn more about the KPAP and their work in Kilimanjaro

Inferior quality equipment

When planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with budget operators one major concern is shoddy gear.These operators often use poorly maintained vehicles and substandard hiking and camping gear to cut costs. Issues like vehicle breakdowns en route or inadequate sleeping bags and leaking tents on the mountain happen from time to time.

Unprofessional "part-time" guides

Professional climbing crews receive their qualifications through training. They earn higher wages for their expertise. Budget operators often employ less-qualified, inexperienced, or part-time guides to keep costs low. Quickly formed teams might not work well together and lack the skills needed. This could cause conflicts and put clients at risk. In contrast, the best Kilimanjaro tour operators like Altezza have perfected every every aspect of their operations and teamwork.

Inadequate safety policies

In many cases,budget expeditions don't have emergency oxygen or medical supplies. Insufficient monitoring of climbers' health and inexperienced guides contribute to failed summit attempts. When inexperienced crews and inadequate safety equipment are combined, the situation may become life-threatening. This is evident from the 5-10 fatalities that happen every year during Kilimanjaro climbs.

High risk of fraud

Lower prices often correlate with higher risks of fraud. Common scams include last-minute cancellations without refunds and operators ceasing communication entirely. Some climbers have been stranded mid-climb, extorted for additional payments for supposedly un-included services.

Many such companies operate out of small, rented offices. They can abruptly close and relocate. This nomadic approach to business premises often hints at a lack of long-term stability. Additionally, a significant number of these companies tend to evade tax obligations. It poses a risk of legal complications, especially during audits. Smaller local businesses often struggle with effective money management, leading to less control over their operations. This lack of financial discipline can affect their ability to deliver promised services reliably.

Final remarks

In summary, choosing a good tour company to climb Kilimanjaro with is essential. When planning your Kilimanjaro trek, carefully read the trekking companies' websites, and check their reviews and social media. Most importantly, choose to climb only with companies that are members of the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP). Choosing KPAP members ensures fair treatment of the porters who are essential to the success of the climb. You can save money on flights, hotels, or gear, but you shouldn't save money in a way that mistreats local porters and puts your own life at risk.

Published on 30 November 2023 Revised on 22 March 2024
About this article
Thomas Becker
Expert Articles: 15
Written byThomas Becker
Travel Expert Tanzania
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In 2013, Thomas Becker relocated from Germany to Tanzania, captivated by the country's charm. He explored various regions, immersing himself in local culture, traditions, geography, and wildlife. He personally successfully ascended Kilimanjaro’s highest point - Uhuru Peak.

Prior to joining Altezza in 2023, Thomas held the role of general manager at several lodges, including Kaliwa Lodge. At Altezza Travel, he oversees the operational facets of all expeditions and manages our mountain team of over 1700 members, the largest in the region

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