Kilimanjaro Guide Reccomendations

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jwgrosser
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Kilimanjaro Guide Reccomendations

Post by jwgrosser »

Hey all,
First off, if I failed to see a recent thread on this, just point me in the right direction. Still getting used to the updated site :-)

My fiancé and I are looking to climb Kilimanjaro for our honeymoon but are having a bit of difficulty working through the logistics. Just wondering if anyone on here has done the climb semi-recently and could recommend some directions on the following questions:
- Research is showing that you need a guide to climb. What are the best guide companies that we should consider? (more concerned with experience/quality vs. price)
- There are many different routes. Which would you recommend? We have no problem with technical climbing and exposure on the 14ers here in Colorado and are generally in good shape (marathon runner and triathlete) but out biggest goal would obviously be to summit. Given the extra altitude, would it be best to just take the "easiest" route or are there others we should consider?
- Which times of the year would give us the best experience climbing? It seems like the fall is a popular time from some of my research but just wondering if others have different perspectives.
- Any travel recommendations? It seems like no matter how you get over there it is going to be a chore. Any advice on how to make the trip quicker? or how to get the most out of the journey?

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!
Jake
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fleetmack
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Re: Kilimanjaro Guide Reccomendations

Post by fleetmack »

Most of my details have been stated time and again, you can read my trip report.
https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... m=tripmine

I'm not comfortable recommending anything I did as I don't have grounds for comparison to other guides or routes. Also, it was 6.5 years ago that I went (wow, really that long ago?!) However, I will say Air Ethiopia by way of DC & Addis Ababa was a very, very wise choice. Great airline and we had pretty much zero layovers after DC (stopped to pick people up in Rome and Nairobi I believe)
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Wandertheworld
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Re: Kilimanjaro Guide Reccomendations

Post by Wandertheworld »

I did Kilimanjaro in September of 2015 and had an amazing experience. I used the tour company Youth Adventures & Safari. They were incredible from the moment I booked to the end of the trip. For $1500, I was able to get a private 6-day hike via the Lemosho Route which included all fees, meals, transportation during my entire stay, plus two nights in a private bungalow at the hotel. The only extra costs I incurred were tips for the guides/porters/driver, and dinner for one night. Upon arrival in Tanzania, I was picked up at the airport personally by Dan, the company owner, who is an absolutely fantastic guy. They went over all my gear and can provide anything that you might be missing. While they are a smaller operator and didn't have some of the same expensive equipment as other groups I saw on the mountain, I was always very comfortable and felt extremely taken care of. It was also pleasing to see that they carefully followed the weight limitations and treated their porters well. Some of the other groups severely overloaded theirs. One tour guide that I spoke to from Zara Tours, which is a popular company, said they routinely mistreat their porters and a lot of them will try and get on with other teams. My own guide, Issa, was knowledgeable and fun. While I'd originally planned on joining a group tour, I ended up happy that it was just my guide and me because we could hike at my pace and we were able to get to know each other. As a benefit, I learned a lot about the Tanzanian culture from our talks.
In the end, we made such good time that I finished the mountain a day early. I had asked about perhaps spending the extra day volunteering somewhere as a way to give back to the community, and Dan was able to set up a last minute trip to a local orphanage where they allowed me to help teach English. That was really special if it's something you may be interested in as well. They can also set up Safari tours and trips to Zanzibar as add-ons.

I would highly recommend taking the Lemosho route, as it is the longest and most scenic. It's also less crowded than Machame and Marangu. None of the routes are technical, and the most difficult section is the Barranco Wall, which is probably a Class 2+. Most people will book a 7 or 8 day climb for this route, so it's just up to you to determine your preference and gauge your ability level. Still, it's pretty much an easy walk up. September was a nice time to climb, weather-wise. Mild and sunny every day. The summit was cold, but manageable. Doing a full moon summit is awesome, too, if you can schedule it. I had no issues with travel and you buy your visa upon arrival, which made things super easy. Make sure you bring cash for that.

As far as training, I just did as many 14ers as possible during the summer (I think about 25?), and then in the month leading up to Kili I camped overnight on a 14er once a week. Doing that if you can is probably the best advice I could give to anyone. That first one was brutal (I couldn't sleep and felt like I had a righteous hangover), but by the end it made all the difference in the world during summit day. We blasted by every other group and I could even run around on the top, and I'm certainly not anything physically special.


A few general tips:

Take care of your feet. Wear sock liners, bring a needle in your first aid kit to drain blisters, and wear shoes a half size bigger if your feet are prone to swelling at high elevations.
If you plan to use poles, make sure they have the rubber tips on the bottom. They protect the fragile environment.
The mountain is really dusty, especially on summit day. You'll want gaiters even if there is no snow.
Take headphones for sleeping. The camps get crowded and can be noisy when you're trying to sleep.
Get a prescription for malaria medication and remember to take it.
Don't be surprised by frequent power outages across the country. Most businesses have generators, but you can still be left hanging sometimes so it's helpful to take your own portable charger.
A silk sleeping bag liner is a nice comfort during cold nights. So is a Nalgene bottle full of hot water at your feet. The porters will be happy to heat up water for you before bed.
Speaking of porters, ask your guide to teach you a few Swahili words so you can communicate with your team. They appreciate the effort and it builds camaraderie.


Anyway, hope this helps and enjoy your trip!
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BobbyFinn
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Re: Kilimanjaro Guide Reccomendations

Post by BobbyFinn »

Kate and I hiked Kili in Sept 2015 and we used Zara http://www.zara.co.tz/kilimanjaro/index.htm. They were great! You should ask for our guide, Wilibard! Their trip package had a night in their hotel for the day before and after the hike. We were even able to craft our own trip - we picked the route and the duration and then did a safari with them after. They were very accommodating. The guides were professional and the porters were all very friendly; the food was great.

PM if you want more info.
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davebobk47
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Re: Kilimanjaro Guide Reccomendations

Post by davebobk47 »

+1 for Zara. Way cheaper than many other guides on the mountain yet still a wonderful experience.
"Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve. They are the cathedrals where I practice my religion." -Anatoli Boukreev
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SoCool
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Re: Kilimanjaro Guide Reccomendations

Post by SoCool »

Wandertheworld wrote:I'm certainly not anything physically special.
I completely disagree.

Regarding Kili, the only thing I can add to the posts here is about tips. Prior to going, I did some research on appropriate tips for guides and porters. I told them in advance what I would tip each of them, then doubled it when the time came. Of course, I sometimes tip 30% at a restaurant too, in any country.
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Sglm14
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Re: Kilimanjaro Guide Reccomendations

Post by Sglm14 »

Did Kilimanjaro in 2014. I won't recommend our guide at all but if you are doing safari, I highly recommend Lesaga Adventures. Very nice guide. He has a facebook page called Lesaga Adventures. BTW, kili was fun. Sunrise summit was awesome!
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jwgrosser
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Re: Kilimanjaro Guide Reccomendations

Post by jwgrosser »

Thanks everyone! Super helpful community as always!
MichiganBrian
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Re: Kilimanjaro Guide Reccomendations

Post by MichiganBrian »

If you're looking for a non-standard way to approach it, I'd recommend the way I went/guide service i used.

https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... trip=15565
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14erAddict
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Re: Kilimanjaro Guide Reccomendations

Post by 14erAddict »

+1 for Zara..they were wonderful :)
"In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks" - John Muir
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Re: Kilimanjaro Guide Reccomendations

Post by pmreyn2010 »

My friends & I went with Zara Tours in 2015. We had a great experience with them; our guides were Sylvester & Ali and both were awesome!

We did the Machame Route but took the extra day (instead of 6, 7 days on the mountain) due to one of our teammates came with us from sea level (Hawaii). We wanted to give everyone a chance to acclimatize. We heard that the Coca Cola route was 'easier' but everyone did fine on the Machame. We climbed towards the end of June and while cold, we never really had to deal with much rain until our last day or so on the mountain. With the trip itself, we took Delta/KLM through Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro. Very smooth flights & KLM ended up being a great airline to fly with!

As far as getting the most out of the journey, make sure you do a safari to the Serengeti... it's an awesome place!
SteveBonowski
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Re: Kilimanjaro Guide Reccomendations

Post by SteveBonowski »

The Colorado Mountain Club; private member trips and Club trips; have used the Marangu Hotel for Kili climbs since 1957. Excellent service and they are the original guide service on the mountain, beginning in the 1930s. The Hotel has been under the same ownership of two families; one German, one British, together or separately; since 1907. Excellent service from a historic vendor ( www.maranguhotel.com ).

They don't do safaris. I can recommend either Safari Images from Moshi, operated by a cousin of the family that owns the Hotel. Or Lions Safari International in Arusha.
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