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
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)
How to Avoid Porter Exploitation on Your Trip
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.
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
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
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.