In Blog, Guides, Trekking

porters setting up tentClimbing Kilimanjaro is an adventure that just about anyone who is reasonably fit can do. But despite your fitness level, you cannot trek Kilimanjaro by yourself.

In 1991 the Kilimanjaro National Park authorities made it mandatory to climb Kilimanjaro with a licensed operator. Additionally, the trekkers are required to be accompanied throughout their hike by a guide supplied by the operator they booked with.

Even after this law was enacted, many people attempted to make for the summit by skirting the law and go at it alone. This led to tall tales of wild animal encounters and episodes of fleeing from Park Rangers.

The park has now tightened these restrictions and heightened security so these embellished tales are mostly non-existent.

If you do try to climb it alone, you are risking your life and cheating one of the poorest countries in the world out of much-needed money. Climbing Kilimanjaro is expensive, but the costs to maintain such a large park and to pay the mountain crew is definitely worth every penny. Don’t believe us? Book your trip and find out what an amazing life-changing experience awaits you.

Mountain Crew

Since the park requires a guide to be with you at all times, how many guides do you have? What exactly what does a mountain crew consist of? The number of crew members depends on the company you climb with, how reputable the operator is, and the number of people in your group.

Peak Planet’s Mountain Crew

Of course, we don’t know exactly what every Kilimanjaro trekking companies mountain crew consist of, so we will just go by what we offer. First of all, we have a 2-to-1 client-to-guide ratio for all of our climbs regardless of a number of people and whether it is a group or private climb. This is the highest rate on the mountain. Budget operators may have only one guide for several people.

On summit night we also have a 1-to-1 guide, assistant guide or senior porter to climber ratio. At no point will you be left alone while making your summit attempt. We may even have two people with you if you require more assistance.

You can refer to the chart to see how the number of crew members corresponds to the number of climbers.

1 1 0 1 7
2 1 1 1 10
3 1 1 1 14
4 1 1 1 18
5 1 2 1 21
6 1 2 1 24
7 1 3 1 28
8 1 3 1 32
9 1 4 2 36
10 1 4 2 40
11 1 5 2 44
12 1 5 2 48

Chief Guide

“Wow! that’s a lot of porters,” (Yes, we heard you). But why do we have so many? It’s due to the level of care we provide for you while on the mountain. This level of care starts with our Chief Guide. Every climb has one very experienced, medically trained guide who oversees the entire group. He is also responsible for conducting the daily health checks. Our guides have climbed the mountain many times—well into the hundreds of times. Becasue if this he has seen or has experienced everything the mountain can throw at you. He is a true expert on the mountain. Listen to him.

I was very impressed with the quality and collegiality of our guides. Given our lead guide had summited over 400 times, I felt that his advice should be the law on the mountain. Although I am a physician (off the mountain), your chief guide is the physician of the mountain.”

—Danny, a former client

Other guides came to Caspar (our lead guide) at the camps to ask his advice on health issues, so Peak Planet is clearly a trusted leader. They also stayed with us every step of the climb and gave guidance on how to navigate the trail as needed.”

—teamcramer, Trip Advisor review

Assistant Guides

In addition to the Chief Guide. We send several Assistant Guides along on the trip depending on the number of climbers in the group. With group climbs, there are usually varying degrees of the climbers’ skill and fitness levels. The Chief Guide will have the Assistant Guides walk with these different subgroups so you are never alone on the mountain.

If someone in your group cannot make the summit or has to be turned around at any point, an Assistant Guide will accompany that person down off the mountain while the rest of the group continues. We will not turn the entire group around if one or two people can’t continue.


In addition to the guides, we also send along a cook or two depending on the number of people in the group. The cook is responsible for the amazing meals we provide while you are on the mountain. We used locally sourced meat, vegetables, and fruit for our meals. The menu has been specifically chosen to increase your bodies ability to adapt to high altitude trekking. We can adjust our menu to accommodate vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and even kosher diets.  Along with the cook, there is also a porter we affectionately call the “waiter”. This porter(s) will serve the food and drinks as well as bringing you hot tea and coffee in the morning.


Finally, the lifeblood of Mountain Kilimanjaro, the porters. There are several responsibilities that the porters have assigned to them. Again the number of porters doing each task is dependent on the number of climbers in the group. Several of the tasks assigned are as follows.

Toilet porter – This porter is responsible for setting up and tearing down the toilet tents. He also cleans and maintains the toilet on the entire trip. Make sure you tip him well.

Tent porter – These porters set up and pack up the client’s tents. They make sure that when you arrive at the camp that you can crawl right into your tent and take a nap if needed.

Duffel bag porter – these porters carry the 90-liter client duffel bags

The rest of the porters carry the Guide and Assistant Guide(s) tents, the dining tent, table, and chairs, and the emergency equipment such as the stretcher and emergency oxygen.

Additional porters – We also offer the option of hiring an extra porter to carry your daypack if you like. If you rent ALTOX, a porter will carry it until you need it on summit night. On longer climbs, like the 11-day Northern Circuit, there is also a porter that carries the Gamow, portable hyperbaric chamber.


Finally, now that you know what your Mountain Crew consist of, how do you go about tipping them? At the trip briefing, the day before your climb, we will go over the easiest way to break down who gets what for tips. Most groups choose to discuss their tipping amounts as a whole group. The group pools the money and appoints one person to announce the tips per person at the tipping ceremony. See the chart for an estimate of how much each person should tip depending on the group size and length of the trip.

1 $350 – $380 $400 – $430 $450 – $480 $500 – $530
2-3 $275 – $305 $305 – $345 $340 – $370 $375 –$415
4+ $200 – $230 $220 – $250 $245 – $275 $270 – $300

If you don’t know the size of your group you can use this KPAP guideline.

  • Guide: $20 to $30 per day
  • Assistant Guide: $15 to $20 per day
  • Cook: $12 to $15 per day
  • Porter: $5 to $7 per day

You can read more about tipping here:

Remember, without the porters, there would be only a select few people that could even go on Kilimanjaro. Treat them well. If you don’t climb with us, climb with a KPAP member. We are proud to be members of KPAP and are grateful for our hard working guides and porters and we hope you will be too.

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