5 Ways to Save on Climbing Kilimanjaro

Climbing Kilimanjaro togetherEvery time I do a Kilimanjaro presentation people ask about how much it costs and how they might save some money.  So here are a few suggestions I've come up with over the years and after my own research. 1.  Fly with Ethiopian or South African Air These days the biggest expense is definitely the airfare.  I was hoping to join the Dec. 9th Independence Day celebrations in Tanzania and checked out airfare prices.  Delta/KLM was over $2,500 from the US to Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO).  After poking around a bit more I found out that both Ethiopian and South African Air fly out of the US (from DC and Atlanta respectively) and the tickets were closer to $1,300 per person directly into JRO. 2.  Fly into/out of Dar es Salaam Another option, if you have more time, is to fly in and out of Dar es Salaam.  There are more carries, so lower prices, and you're still within Tanzania so you avoid any additional Visa fees like Kenya.  The only challenge is that you now need to get to Moshi or Arusha.  There are a number of different shuttles you can take with pretty reasonable costs, and you get to see more of the countryside (it's about a 6-8 hour drive). 3.  Book with a Local Outfitter Depending on who you choose, your outfitter is likely the other big costs.  High-end outfitters like National Geographic or Mountain Sobek offer amazing trips with the advantage of a certified American guide and extra amenities.  But they're usually about $4,000 or more just for the climb.  There are a number of reputable local companies you might consider that are usually between $1,200-$2,000/person.  You lose the safety of an American guide, but gain the fun and cultural experience of a Tanzanian guide instead. 4.  Buy Less Expensive Gear While climbing Kilimanjaro the porters will carry your pack up the mountain and have it waiting for you at the next camp.  It's recommend you keep your pack weight below 30 lbs so they aren't over-burdened.  But that's still a lot of weight.  You don't need the ultra-light super-new, latest-material sleeping bag or mat.  You just need something to keep you warm down to about 25 degrees.  If you do go with some cheaper gear remember to test it a few times before you get to Tanzania and don't skimp on your boots!  If you can't walk, you're done! 5.  Pick a Route with a High Success Rate Many people try to save money by choosing the shorter, 5-day hikes.  And that seems logical.  But the 5-day Marangu Route has the lowest success rate on the mountain.  So you may be paying thousands of dollars to fail to climb a mountain.  That's not saving you anything.   Almost any of the other routes, done as a 7-day climb are better. Kiilimanjaro can be climbed without breaking your life savings. But at the same time, please be smart about where you're trying to save.  You're #1 priority is to come home safely, #2 is to have a great time, and #3 is to get to the top.    Enjoy the mountain!
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