You are researching options for climbing Kilimanjaro and every now and then you read something about tipping porters. You are surprised. Why is it expected to tip porters? You are paying a large sum for your flights, you expect to pay a fair price for your climb and now you also have to pay extra to support the people who help you up the mountain? Correct. Climbing Kilimanjaro and tipping go hand in hand. In this blog post, we explain why tipping is a thing and how much you should tip porters and guides.
Kilimanjaro appeals to us all. Every year thousands and thousands of people come to Tanzania to climb the Roof of Africa. Together with Zanzibar and 16 National Parks, Kilimanjaro is a cash cow for Tanzania. However, tourism is not enough to support this beautiful country. According to stats by the World Bank, almost half of 55 million Tanzanians live below EUR 1,70 (USD 1,90) a day. In rural areas, as well as on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro life can be hard. For years farmers have cultivated the volcanic soil just outside the National Park. However, because of a decline in rainfall farmers are struggling. In these communities, a lot of young men try to benefit from the tourism industry around Kilimanjaro. They become guides and porters.
Salaries for Porters on Kilimanjaro
It is not easy to be a porter. Imagine yourself carrying someone else's luggage up a mountain of roughly 6,000 meters and do it again the next week. We sometimes get the question of whether it is possible to climb Kilimanjaro without the help of guides and porters. Unfortunately, this is not possible. The number of staff joining you on your climb is regulated by the Tanzanian National Park Service. Per climber, two or three porters will join you. If you are with a group of four, you are pretty sure to have 12 porters joining you. Also, 2 guides and 2 cooks. Although every staff member gets a salary, this is usually just enough to make a living.
In the old days, before trekking and climbing companies became a thing, people who wanted to climb Kilimanjaro gathered a team of porters on the lower slopes of Kili and would set off. They would pay the support crew after descending. Although porters now get a salary, the ways have not really changed. Porters and tipping have become a part of the Kilimanjaro experience. In fact, without porters, there is no Kilimanjaro.
Tipping Ceremony on Kilimanjaro
On the last day of your Kilimanjaro climb, your staff will come together and do a dance for you. This is accompanied by singing traditional songs. This is your cue to get your group together to collect the tips for your staff. Curious what that ceremony could look like? Watch:
How Much Should I Tip Porters?
That brings us to the most important question we get asked very frequently. How much should I tip porters? Well, first of all: You are not only tipping your porters, but also your guide and cook. Take this into account when making your calculations. Guides get a little more than assistant guides, cooks a bit more than porters and so on. As per Kilimanjaro Porters guidelines we advise to tip guides and assistant guides EUR 18 / USD 20, cooks EUR 13,50 / USD 15 and all other staff including porters EUR 7 - 8,70 / USD 8 - 10.
The total amount of tips per person is dependant on the amount of the days you will be spending on the mountain. You will be paying less on the 5 or 6-day Marangu Route, Machame or Rongai. Expect to pay more on a 9-day Lemosho Route or Northern Circuit.
6-day climb: Expect to tip anything between EUR 125 - 170 or USD 140 - 190
7-day climb: Expect to tip anything between EUR 170 - 200 or USD 190 - 225
8-day climb: Expect to tip anything between EUR 190 - 230 or USD 220 - 265
9-day climb: Expect to tip anything between EUR 215 - 260 or USD 245-295
If you are climbing in a small group of up to 5 or 6 persons, you can put yourself in the lower end the recommended amount. If you are with fewer people, make sure that your tips are on the higher end of the estimate. Are you alone or just with the two of you? Count at least USD 250 per person. Obviously, because we are talkingabout tipping, your level of satisfaction also counts. You can tip in US Dollar or in Tanzanian Shillings. Make sure to use new Dollar bills.
Donation of Gear and Equipment
Once you are done with your climb, you may put your gear and equipment away in the closet for a trekking expedition in Nepal. Right? Let's be honest, it may take a while before you are heading off to a new trekking destination on the other side of the world. The porters who have helped you tag Uhuru Peak, however, are definitely going trekking again. Some of them ascend Kilimanjaro more than 30 times a year. They already do not own too much gear, so you can imagine they would be very grateful to receive your unwanted trekking, climbing and hiking gear. It will be of more use than when it's rotting away in your closet ;)
If you want to do more research on your upcoming Kilimanjaro climb, make sure to check our guide. This blog post takes you through all the different Kilimanjaro routes.