Been up Kilimanjaro?

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Postby mr green » Tue Dec 26, 2006 11:07 pm

A buddy of mine and me are saving up to go to Kili this summer, and our parents are helping us out as a graduation present. I'm really trying to sort through all the guide companies and what-not, and we're students, we're trying to go cheap. I know we want to do Machame route. I'm having trouble picking a company though, because you can't tell much about them through the internet.
We're way beyond birthdays now...

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Postby Joe Miner » Wed Dec 27, 2006 9:00 pm

Made the trip last year and we used Tusker Trails. They did a great job. We did the Western Bitch Route just before the 3 people were killed by a rockfall. Having watched numerous athletes and studs hanging onto rocks and puking their guts out, I would recommend against trying to do an accelerated trip. Take the time to properly adjust to the altitude. An incredible trip. Great place in Moshe to buy unset Tanzanite gemstones.

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Postby Aubrey » Mon Feb 19, 2007 9:01 pm

First, a big thanks to everyone that replied to this thread ... some very helpful information on here! Not only have you helped me, but I'm sure you've helped many others (now and in the future), including some innocent, curious lurkers that don't chime in.

Second, I wanted to let you all know that Jen and I just booked our trip. If you're interested (and in the hopes of helping others), here are more details and justifications on our decisions:

When? Late September. Why? 1. It's in a dry season. 2. It's at the end of summer 14er climbing season (so we can get some good training in throughout the summer). 3. It was a good time for both of our jobs. 4. Less chance of catching a cold that time of year, right before/during the trip.

Who? Zara Travel / Adventures Within Reach. Why? 1. Good recommendations from people on this site and elsewhere. 2. Not as "sketchy" and/or questionable as some other African companies ... and much cheaper than most U.S.-based companies (i.e., $1,300 per person vs. $3,000). Sidenote: This year, Zara went up from $1,100 pp to $1,300 pp. D'oh!

Which route? Rongai (6 day). Why? 1. Much less traveled than most of the other routes. 2. Very scenic. 3. Not the easiest; not the hardest. 4. High success rate. I'm not too worried about the physical or endurance parts ... the altitude is our only unknown variable in the equation. While we knew we didn't want to go on the easier "Coca-Cola" route (Marangu), we didn't want to push things on a harder route. We also didn't want to spend more than 6 days on the mountain because of time constraints. But, in the end, I don't think there really is a "wrong" route to take. And they're all difficult, relatively speaking.

How much? Funny you should ask, as this was one of my big questions initially. And I actually thought this was going to be an inexpensive trip! :shock:

For those that are curious, I'll break it down for you (all prices are TOTAL w/taxes, etc. for TWO people):

Airfare (Denver to Newark on Continental, then Newark to Amsterdam to Kili on KLM): $3,800. [This was actually pretty cheap, as it's been above $4,000 for a while. My wife is also really good at adjusting times/dates/airlines/cities, etc. to make it work.]

Zara / Adventures Within Reach guided climb / hotel / food: $2,600

Tips to porters, drive to trailhead, misc.: $500

2-day safari plus one hotel night (I think) added at the end: about $1,000

Other expenses:
Boarding our dogs at the "spaw" kennel: $600
DIA economy parking: $100
Trip Insurance: $300
Immunizations not covered by insurance and copays: $200
visas: $100

Finding a buyer for my left kidney: Priceless

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Postby MtHurd » Mon Feb 19, 2007 9:52 pm

I paid $1400 on British Airways from DFW to Nairobe with a stop in London in 2001. If they still fly to Nairobe, I highly recommend them, the service was outstanding. 777 to London and a 747 to Nairobe. Any guide service should make arrangements for a bus ride to Arusha from Nairobe if that is the route you choose. The bus ride is about 5 hours from Nairobe to Arusha. We paid about $40 bucks to a cab driver and he gave us a 4 hours tour of Nairobe while we were waiting for the bus to arrive. Nairobe is a very interesting place, especially when driving through the roundabouts with no signal lights!

The advantage of flying into Nairobe is the chance to see 2 African countries and a lot of countryside in between. Another couple we met took KLM to Kilimanjaro airport and their flight was a day and 1/2 late, I kid you not. I haven't heard of any other horror stories so hopefully that was just their bad luck that one time.

I arrived on October 1st, right in the middle of the dry season. The safari wasn't the best because it was the dry season, but the climb of Kili was great as the precipitation was minimal. During the wet season you can get a lot of snow and this may hamper your summit attempt.

My total cost was around $3200.

You will have to carry all of your gifts for the porters with you in your duffle bags. Yes, they prefer to carry the duffle bags on their heads rather than carry a backpack (at least that was the way it was on the Marangu route). That means you can only take so much. A soccer ball might be a good idea, but I would flatten it, and who knows, as poor as they are they may sell it anyway. Warm clothing is really what they need (they also like T-shirts and caps from American sports teams). Again, make sure you meet the porters in person and hand them the stuff as the guides may not pass on your gifts to them. Money might be your best gift to them.

Although the Marangu route is easier and has more people, I like the fact that there were so many people from all over the world to meet. I can't imagine that another route would be all that more spectacular as far as scenery goes. Maybe the scrambling on the other routes would be more exciting, but I think the most important thing is to summit, you can always go climb Pyramid or Capital if you want some good scrambling.

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Postby Steve Bonowski » Sun Mar 25, 2007 9:53 am

I've led Kilimanjaro five times for the Colorado Mountain Club, most recently in January/February of this year. I use the Marangu Hotel as my mountain vendor. They've been guiding on the mountain since the 1930s, with two different ownership groups and put on a first class operation. Try and for info, write to

For the 3 night, 4 day, budget safari, I use Lions Safari International based in Arusha. I usually offer an optional third week for my groups to trek Mount Kenya. For Kenya, I book through Lets Go Safari in Nairobi. Both of these vendors also offer excellent service.

I've heard good things about Zara Tours. They were the vendor for the CMC group that got caught in the rock slide in the Western Breach last year. I strongly concur with the prior posters who advocate use of local, Africa based, vendors and thus avoiding the extra fees tacked on by the US based operators.

Total direct cost for the two week part of my trip earlier this year was under $4,800. This included air fare, coverage of leader expenses, and a small outings fee charged by the Club. I advised my group to bring a few hundred in extra money for souvenirs, bar tab, etc. For a person going to Africa for the first time, you will need a bunch of shots, some of which, like yellow fever, are costly. All should have an anti-malarial drug.

Air fares may boost a cost like the one quoted above, depending on when people buy. Usde of F.F. miles may decrease the cost. I used United from Denver to Amsterdam, then KLM to Kilimanjaro Airport via Nairobi. The cheap seats on the direct flight to Kilimanjaro sometimes sell out quick, as they did this time.

CMC has two additional trips going this year to Kilimanjaro. Visit, and check Adventure Travel for details. I will lead Kili again in early 2009. Steve Bonowski

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Postby Matt » Sun Mar 25, 2007 2:40 pm

Wow, thanks, Steve. Great info.
I've also noticed the huge premium required if you want to fly into JRO instead of Nairobi... I don't know if the bus ride is bad enough to justify the extra $$$.
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Postby Steve Bonowski » Sun Mar 25, 2007 4:12 pm

Del: sometimes you can get a decent fare on the direct flight into JRO. But not this time around: the main group took the puddle jumper to/from Nairobi into JRO. The smaller part of the group doing the optional third week on Mt. Kenya took a shuttle back across the border and then flew to Amsterdam out of Nairobi. The two main shuttle services are both based in Moshi: Davanu and Riverside. Cost was $45 per person, and yes, it is an all day ride.

Fortunately, the border crossing at Namanga goes quick. There is the "minor issue" of dodging the Masai women and young boys shaking their trinkets in your face if you let them. Steve

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Postby Aubrey » Wed Apr 04, 2007 9:27 pm

del_sur wrote:Wow, thanks, Steve. Great info.
I've also noticed the huge premium required if you want to fly into JRO instead of Nairobi... I don't know if the bus ride is bad enough to justify the extra $$$.

Yes, Steve, I'll second the thanks for the great info.

del, the wife and I looked into the Nairobi option to save a few bucks but overall it didn't seem worth it. It was only a few hundred dollars worth of savings, but it added a 6-hr jaunt over bumpy/dusty land. And, as I just learned, it requires a second visa, since you go through Kenya and Tanzania, which decreases the savings another 50 or 100 dollars. Add to that, the sketchiness of Nairobi. Some people may be into that sort of thing, but after travelling through Caracas, that's not really my cup of tea anymore.

Just went to the Zara slideshow at Montbell in Boulder last night. We were told airfare ranges from 1,600 to 2,400. As it turns out, the wife and I snagged some 1,650 tickets about a month ago (to Kili), so I guess we did OK.


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