The total climbing Kilimanjaro cost is usually significantly more than the travel package numbers that you see on travel/adventure tour websites.
There are a number of costs that are not accounted for in the total travel package cost.
In our experience, there are 7 key costs that you should budget for, as follows.
The cost of getting to Kilimanjaro usually accounts for a significant portion of your total Kilimanjaro adventure.
Depending on where you are flying from you might have a journey that involves two connections. Most climbers from America, Canada, the UK, and Europe fly to Amsterdam first and then catch a connecting flight on KLM direct to Kilimanjaro. You can check the availability and prices for this KLM flight here.
For those flying from within Africa or from Australia, it is easier to fly to Nairobi or Addis Ababa and then catch a connecting flight (typically Precision Air – not sure how Precise they are, Ha!) to Kilimanjaro International Airport.
Those coming from Asia or the Middle East may want to look at Turkish Airlines that fly direct to Kilimanjaro with KLM from Istanbul.
Budget at least $1,300 (£950) for flights
Most trekkers book their climbing adventure through established tour operators who typically offer all-inclusive packages which include airport transfers, a night in a hotel before and after the trek, and all expenses on the mountain (National Park fees, food, porters, guide, tents, etc.).
Note: Kilimanjaro National Park fees alone account for 50-70% of the trek cost.
The cost of a tour varies depending on what type of operator you choose, whether you join an open group or go privately, which route you take and the number of days on the mountain.
There are over 200 operators on Kilimanjaro. The market splits into three broad categories
1. Cheap local operators
There’s a spectrum of players here but bear in mind that it is very difficult to operate a 7-day Kilimanjaro climb at under $1800. The Kilimanjaro National Park permit alone is $1000. This leaves $800 for all the crew salaries (guide, porters, and cook for 7 days – each climber will have on average 3 people supporting them), all the food on the climb, transfers to and from the mountain, and some money left over to make a small margin. The only place to find savings is by paying the crew very little or in some cases not at all (yes, shockingly some operators don’t pay their staff, and instead they have to rely on customer tips). This is not to mention other porter welfare issues like limited food on the trek, poor clothing, shoes, and equipment, and many porters crammed into tents at night. The Coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated these issues as companies are so desperate for clients that they have dropped prices to exploitative levels.
2. Affordable local operators
Again there’s a spectrum here. But anywhere between $2000-$2400 for a 7-day hike is standard. This usually includes all the bells and whistles including airport transfers, pre and post-hotels, and various other additions. Most importantly the support crews are more often than not well paid, fed, and equipped for the mountain.
3. Western operators
In general, the major Western operators run good quality adventures. But it obviously comes at a price. This is because they build in Western-level margins for themselves and often have higher running costs as their marketing and sales staff are based in the US and UK. Many of the Western operators actually outsource to local ground operators, like the companies I mentioned under category 2.
There are seven routes on Kilimanjaro. Northern Circuit is the most expensive route as it is the longest on Mount Kilimanjaro. Trek lengths range from 5 days (cheapest) to 10 days (most expensive).
Five-day treks are too short for the average hiker in terms of acclimatization (less than 50% of trekkers reach the summit on the 5-day treks).
If you are looking to go budget we suggest choosing a six-day trek which usually gives you an acclimatization day, and increases your probability of summit success. If you want to really increase your chances of reaching the summit then a 7 or 8-day trek gives you the best shot.
Budget $2,000-$2,500 (£1,500-1,900) for all inclusive 7 or 8 day trek packages (excludes flights)
Most trekkers need a visa to enter Tanzania. You can either organize a visa with your local Tanzanian embassy or purchase a visa on arrival in Kilimanjaro. We suggest getting a visa before you depart as it means you can avoid the queues at Kilimanjaro International Airport.
Budget $50 (£30). For some reason, US citizens have to pay $100.
Tanzania is a malaria area as well. The risk of contracting malaria is relatively low on the mountain as mosquitoes are not found at high altitudes (over 1,800 meters). You will be spending most of your trip above this altitude but will be at risk before and after your hike.
Taking malaria tablets is really up to you. There is a cost associated with the medication that can be quite high. Either way, we recommend taking all common-sense precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes – i.e. wear Deet repellent, wear light clothes that cover your arms and legs, and stay indoors before dawn and after dusk.
If you plan to go on safari after your trek then we recommend taking malaria tablets.
Some trekkers may also need a Yellow Fever vaccination card when entering Tanzania (you only need this if you’re traveling from a country that has high Yellow Fever transmission rates – citizens of the UK, US, Europe, Canada, Australia, and many others don’t need a YF vaccination). Costs for Yellow Fever vaccinations vary but can be as much as $100.
In addition to Yellow Fever, you may want to get a HEP-A vaccination and a Polio Tetanus-Diphtheria booster.
Budget $150 (£100)
It is important that you purchase the right equipment for trekking Kilimanjaro. This includes layered clothing, an extreme weather sleeping bag, walking poles, good quality hiking boots, a headlamp, a duffel bag, a daypack, and insulated water bottles.
The costs can vary depending on the quality of the equipment you buy and whether you already have lots of equipment in your possession.
Budget $800 (£600) to get fully kitted, less if you already own equipment (i.e. hiking boots, sleeping bag, etc.)
Tipping your support team is standard on Kili. Your guides and porters work extremely hard for very little money. The tips that they receive after the climb go a long way to support their families who they don’t see for weeks on end. If you can afford it we suggest paying more than the standard rate of approx. $300 per climber for your support team.
Budget $300 (£250)
Inevitably you will end up spending money during your hotel stay before and after your climb. Set aside some cash for those miscellaneous expenses.
Budget $200 (£150)
We hope this article has provided more clarity on the cost of climbing Kilimanjaro.