Climb Kilimanjaro Responsibly: Everything You Need to Know About Fair Porter Treatment & Tipping
About Alexandra Pastollnigg

About Alexandra Pastollnigg

This is a guest post written by the founder of FairVoyage.com, Alexandra Pastollnigg, whose vision is to connect responsible travelers to sustainable and transparent tour operators. Edited by Rose Cornwell, the founder of The Uprooted Rose. To book a responsible climb with FairVoyage.com, click here.

Why does planning a responsible climb matter?

Three years ago, the founder of FairVoyage.com climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa. Here’s what happened to her tour guide: One day, he got sick and fainted while working as a porter on the mountain. He was unconscious on the ground. It was snowing heavily. His employer – a local tour company – simply left him behind to die . . .Travellers are not aware that their travel decisions may contribute to the exploitation of human life and they are the ones that have the power to stop this exploitation

The view from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro after a long climb. Every year, thousands of climbers scale up Africa's highest point stands at 5,895 meters tall. Learn more about planning your trip to Tanzania Responsibly with FairVoyage.com

How to Plan Your Climb

Are you getting ready to book your Kilimanjaro climb and wondering about what you should look for in your tour operator? Or are you already packing to embark on this once-in-a-life-time adventure, and wondering what you could do to climb Kili responsibly?

Well, that’s where we can help you. The number one thing to look for before booking any tour operator is the fair treatment of the porters they employ. Unfortunately, many porters are underpaid and exploited by companies that serve international climbers who want to scale Africa’s highest mountain. In this article, we'll explain the porter treatment situation, what you can do to improve it, and what you can do to make a difference during your climb.

The predominant problem caused by Kilimanjaro climbing tourism is the exploitation of porters. Porters are the ones who make Kilimanjaro tours possible for the vast majority of international climbers, and who do all the heavy lifting. Sadly, our summit success often comes at the cost of the very people who help us reach the mountaintop.

For example, porters may be subject to the following practices:

  • Not receiving their due minimum salary and client tips intended for them

  • Carrying company weight in excess of the official 20 kg (45 lbs) park limit

  • Being denied three (3) meals per day, despite their hard labour carrying gear up the mountain

  • Sleeping in conditions that expose them to health and safety threats

  • No assistance with descent and medical treatment in emergencies - instead being left behind by their guides to die (unless a responsible tour operator finds them on time to assist)

Elephants migrating in front of Africa's tallest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. For more on responsible travel and tourism in Tanzania, read our blog.

How to Avoid Porter Exploitation on Your Trip

Aerial photo of Mount Kilimanjaro during the summer. Climbing mount Kili responsibly means you will need to follow these rules. Book with an ethical tour company that doesn't exploit porters or risk their lives. Read The Uprooted Rose travel blog for more.

There is only one organization that monitors Kilimanjaro porter treatment practices - the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), a Tanzanian non-profit organization. Participation in their Partner for Responsible Travel Program is voluntary, but companies must adhere to minimum fair porter treatment standards. Only climbs contracted with a KPAP Partner company are verified ethical climbs.

KPAP & their partners raise public awareness regarding the proper treatment of porters on Kilimanjaro, assists climbing companies with implementing procedures that ensure fair and ethical treatment of their porters, lends climbing gear to porters and other mountain crew free of charge, and offers educational classes to empower and motivate porters and mountain crew as funding allows.

KPAP & their partners raise public awareness regarding the proper treatment of porters on Kilimanjaro, assists climbing companies with implementing procedures that ensure fair and ethical treatment of their porters, lends climbing gear to porters and other mountain crew free of charge, and offers educational classes to empower and motivate porters and mountain crew as funding allows.

Ways You Can Make a Difference:

  • Upgrade your climb with a private toilet or other equipment. Your porters will appreciate the employment opportunities created by this if you are using a responsible tour operator

  • Donate to KPAP - every dollar counts. You can easily make a donation with just a few clicks by following this link to the KPAP website.

  • Share this article to spread the word to anyone thinking about climbing Mount Kili

Please Avoid:

  • Contracting with a non-KPAP Partner company to save costs on your climb at the cost of human life

  • Saving on tips, even though you're satisfied with the service

  • Feeing guilty for luxury climbs or hiring additional services such as a private toilet tent or personal porter. These accommodations provide more employment opportunities

More Information

Planning your trip? Visit FairVoyage.com to make a conscious travel plan and connect with transparent tour operators in across Tanzania. To learn more about the value of ecotourism in the 21st century, check out The Uprooted Rose’s travel blog.