If you’re at all hung up on whether climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is worth the price of admission, I’d like to offer a bit of perspective and a more in-depth look under the hood at what the sticker price actually buys you, which is an experience that is truly priceless.
No matter who you are, $5,000 is a lot of money. After calculating the initial cost (below), your departing and returning flights, and any gear you may need to buy or rent, that is pretty close to what you should expect to pay. Like you probably are, I’m an adventure seeker with modest means. However, Kilimanjaro is special.
If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, Kilimanjaro delivers!
First, let’s look at what other trips to the Seven Summits (highest peaks on seven continents) would cost you.
Cost to Climb the Seven Summits
Kilimanjaro (Africa) 5895m: $2,500 – $3,400 (8-11 days)
Aconcagua (South America) 6962m: $5,800 – $6,000 (20-25 days)
Everest (Asia) 8850m: $45,000 – $65,000 (40 to 65 days)
Denali (North America) 6194m: $11,000 and up (20-25 days)
Elbrus (Europe) 5642m: $4,500 to $6,000 (10-14 days)
Mount Vinson (Antarctica) 4892m: $40,000 – $50,000 (16 days)
Carstensz Pyramid (Australasia) 4884m: $25,000 – $30,000 (10-14 days)
What’s Included in the Cost?
Peak Planet’s range of prices above covers a number of your associated costs such as:
- Park fees (the current 2021/2022 daily fee for Kilimanjaro National Park is 70 USD)
- Hotel lodging the night before the climb with free breakfast
- Transportation from the hotel to the trailhead
- Transportation to and from the airport
- Double-occupancy tent
- Sleeping pad
- Private toilet tent
- Meals and water on the climb
- Fees for support personnel (guides, porters, and cooks)
- Kilimanjaro SAR evacuation insurance
Relative to other guided big mountain climbs, including those on the Seven Summits list above, Kilimanjaro is among the least expensive. It’s a very reasonable price especially when you consider all that is included, especially the extent of expert-level manpower support you receive on this mountain (1:2 guide to climber ratio, and 1:1 on summit day). Tips for support staff are not included in the price, and any gear you choose to rent (outside of the sleeping pad and tent) will be an additional expense as well.
No matter the extent of the planning required, Peak Planet has you covered, and will ensure you have very little to worry about beyond putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying every moment.
A Feast for the Eyes
Whatever inspires you to take on one of the world’s great mountains, rest assured Kilimanjaro lives up to its mystique. Climbing the mountain is a transformative experience. The backdrop is the majestic African continent where human existence very likely began.
The mountain itself is almost like an 8-11 day journey around the world and beyond with its incredibly diverse natural beauty and almost alien landscape. You’ll hike through five distinct ecological zones on your way to the summit.
You begin your climb in the Cultivation Zone (farmland) and hit the summit in the Arctic Zone, walking alongside Kilimanjaro’s shrinking summit glaciers. Between those two zones, you’ll experience everything from lush rainforest (complete with Colobus monkeys jumping through the trees) to dense grasslands and a lunar desert.
It’s a true spectacle for your eyes.
Where else can you experience all of this in less than a week’s time?
You Don’t Have to Be an Expert
It is absolutely worth noting that you need not have any prior hiking or climbing experience, let alone any technical mountaineering skills, to summit this incredible mountain.
People from the ages of six to 89 years have made their way to the roof of Africa! Overcoming the adverse effects of altitude is the single greatest hurdle to overcome, and the relationship between fitness level and the probability of success is marginal, at best, meaning you do not need to be in peak physical condition to accomplish this feat.
This is not at all to say that you should not train prior to attempting to climb to the highest point in Africa. You should, as doing so will greatly increase the probability of having your moment in front of the infamous summit sign! What I’m saying is that conquering Kilimanjaro is an impressive achievement that is completely realistic, even for the average person.
Make Friends for a Lifetime
The climbers, guides, and porters you share this unforgettable experience with become an extended mountain family. My wife and I joined one of Peak Planet’s group climbs. We knew none of the other climbers prior to our pre-climb briefing. But after nine incredible days on the mountain, complete with all manner of “ups and downs,” we walked away with friends (both climbers and guides, alike) that we still keep in touch with some six years removed.
With your fellow climbers, you will bond over the shared laughs and hardship, as you clumsily (for some) adjust to life on the trail and in a tent. Together we withstood all the challenges that come with climbing a big mountain, particularly the increasing altitude. You’ll pull together to pick each other up when needed, and (hopefully) share the unparalleled elation of a successful summit bid.
There will be plenty of time to chat with your guides and porters on the trail and at camp as well. They will not only inspire you with their tireless work ethic and vast experience, they will greet you with tea each morning, share light-hearted tales about their amazing lives on the mountain, teach you Swahili, and they may even share stories about their lives off the mountain as well. You will have experienced so much in the hands of this amazing and caring support staff, that you’ll invariably shed tears as you say your final goodbyes.
By the time you arrive home, you’ll wonder why you ever questioned whether the experience would be worth it, and why you hadn’t done it sooner.
Like Nowhere Else on Earth
Not only is Tanzania home to the world’s highest freestanding mountain, it is also home to some of the most welcoming people on Earth, an amazingly vibrant culture, and an energy that is almost palpable.
And who can forget that the country has the world’s most well-known safari locations in Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater and, most notably, the Serengeti. Just a short flight away is the neighboring island of Zanzibar, which features world-class beaches and snorkeling, and so much more!
Should you choose to add a safari or an excursion to Zanzibar, Peak Planet offers a one-stop-shopping experience and a variety of packages, and they will work with you to set up your itinerary from beginning to bittersweet end. From the most basic one-day safari in Arusha National Park (which my wife and I absolutely loved!) to a six-day luxury safari with hot air balloon ride, an unforgettable experience is guaranteed! If you want to hop over to Zanzibar, Peak Planet offers an array of 3-day/2-night packages, and free quotes for both add-on options are available at absolutely no obligation to you.
The ultimate vacation for many people would be to climb Kilimanjaro, then recover while on an exciting, extended safari, and finish it up with some relaxing beach time in Zanzibar. The point of mentioning these additions is to paint a more vivid picture of all the possibilities.
It is worth it?
100% YES it is.