Kilimanjaro tipping guide
There is lots of etiquette to consider when it comes to tipping on Kilimanjaro. It is essential that you understand the tipping guidelines before you climb. We have therefore put together this essential Kilimanjaro tipping guide so that you understand the jobs of your guides and porters. Having this background knowledge will vastly improve your trip. It will ensure you know why it is important to tip, how to do it properly and where your money is going.
Firstly, here’s a fun video of the guides and porters dancing at the tipping ceremony. What’s the tipping ceremony!? Read more about the tipping ceremony below.
What is Kilimanjaro tipping?
Kilimanjaro tipping is an essential and customary way of paying your mountain crew. It recognises their hard work in helping you summit. It is considered a universal custom on Kilimanjaro and is regulated by the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP).
What is the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project?
The Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP) is a legally registered Tanzanian not-for-profit organisation. Their mission is to improve the working conditions of the porters on Kilimanjaro and in turn promote socially responsible Kilimanjaro climbs. KPAP is not a porter membership organisation or a tour operating business. They do not collect any fees from porters or climbing companies. They publish recommended wages and Kilimanjaro rates for mountain crews, which Follow Alice, and all reputable travel companies, have to follow.
Who are the Kilimanjaro mountain crew and why do we need them?
The mountain crew are an essential group of support staff that help you summit Mount Kilimanjaro. Your extensive team consists of hard-working Kilimanjaro porters, guides and cooks. They provide specially trained support throughout the climb to assist you in reaching the summit.
- Porters – carry all of your food and gear.
- Guides – guide you safely and efficiently up the mountain.
- Cooks – provide all meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner).
We organise all of our Kilimanjaro crews alongside Chris, our local travel leader. Our Kilimanjaro guides are licensed by the Kilimanjaro National Park and speak fluent English. They are trained in acute mountain sickness (AMS) and mountain first aid. Importantly, they understand the network of shortcuts to escort climbers to safety need be.
How big is a Kilimanjaro mountain crew?
The size of your Kilimanjaro crew depends on how many members are in your climbing group and how much your bags weigh. This ultimately effects how much you will need to tip. According to the guidelines set out by KPAP, each Kilimanjaro porter is allowed to carry a maximum of 20kg (including their own gear). We cap each bag at a maximum weight of 16kg. This means we know exactly how many guides and porters will be required before the trip, and therefore an accurate Kilimanjaro tipping budget for each climber. This keeps recommended Kilimanjaro tipping budgets transparent and to a minimum.
- Porters – 3 per person
- Lead guide – 1 per group
- Assistant guide – 1 per 2-3 climbers
- Cook – 1 per group
That seems like a lot of team members. Why so many?
Kilimanjaro porters are responsible for carrying all gear, tents, cooking supplies and water. Cheaper trekking companies for Kilimanjaro use fewer support staff to lower their costs. However, this comes at the price of overworked or overloaded staff. Every single porter and guide is an essential part of the team. They all work hard to make your Kilimanjaro trip is safe and enjoyable.
Can I climb Kilimanjaro without guides and porters?
No. According to Tanzanian law, climbing Kilimanjaro without a guide or a porter is illegal. Climbing Kilimanjaro is a challenge and a serious commitment. In order to have a safe and enjoyable experience you need an experienced team of support staff around you.
Do I have to give Kilimanjaro tips?
Tipping is discretionary and you are under no legal obligation to tip. However, it is expected. This is because it has always constituted a significant proportion of a guide or porter’s salary. Tipping may not be common practice in all countries and cultures, but it does play a large part in the financial compensation for a Kilimanjaro climb. While Follow Alice adhere to KPAP recommendations by paying porters a fair basic wage, it does not equate to a living wage. We therefore encourage climbers to consider a tip amount that would supplement the salary payment. Tipping is, of course, still based on the crew meeting your expectations. They have to work hard to earn their tips.
That seems like a lot of money. Why do I have to tip so much?
Please keep in mind that the lower the costs of a climb, the higher the probability that an operator may not be adhering to proper treatment standards. As a result, well-meaning individuals unknowingly become part of porter exploitation. They end up climbing with a company that sacrifices the salaries and working conditions of their staff in order to offer low prices. Follow Alice are adamant in adhering to KPAP’s recommendations. This ensures that your Kilimanjaro guides and porters are paid an appropriate living wage.
Why don’t Follow Alice just add a surcharge to the price of the trip to cover tips?
Kilimanjaro tipping is an essential and customary way of paying your mountain crew. It is adopted by all Kilimanjaro operators and has became best practice. Rather than adding on to the price of the trip, Kilimanjaro tipping is good because:
Guides and porters earn more money
According to Tanzanian tax legislation, tipping is tax free. This means that tipping on Kilimanjaro eliminates the need for porters and guides to register as tax payers. In turn they take home more of a wage.
Freedom to distribute fair wages
Kilimanjaro tipping means the lead guide, Chris, has the freedom to distribute the tips fairly and deservedly amongst his team. This happens at the ‘tipping ceremony’. Porters are comfortable because they know that Chris is responsible for the division of the tips, rather than the office. He knows how hard they work.
Incentive to work hard
Tipping Kilimanjaro guides and porters is not compulsory. This gives them an incentive to work hard. To deserve a wage they have to earn recognition from the climbers and team leader.
Different ways to tip Kilimanjaro porters
Another common practice is for guests to donate pieces of their clothing and equipment to the crew. Despite climbing Kilimanjaro multiple times a year, guides and porters still have little access to good quality, long-lasting gear. They often consider these goods as luxury rather than necessity. If you have any equipment you no longer need after the trip, the porters will be very grateful receivers.
What are the Kilimanjaro guides and porters like?
The majority of guides and porters are local Tanzanian men between the ages of 18 and 40. They come to the mountain seeking work because of the increased interest in climbing Kilimanjaro. This is often to support their families. Most Kilimanjaro porters are not employed on a permanent basis. Instead they freelance for different companies. For many it’s their main source of income and how they survive. This is another reason why tipping on Kilimanjaro is so vital to the welfare of your support staff.
How does the Kilimanjaro tipping ceremony work?
You pay your tips at the end of the climb at the customary ‘tipping ceremony’. The tipping ceremony takes place on your last night on the mountain. Your chief guide will supply you with an envelope and take care of the distribution of tips. If you enjoyed your climb this is also the time to thank your crew. Recognition and appreciation are very important for the Kilimanjaro guides and porters.
How should I pay my Kilimanjaro tips?
Kilimanjaro tipping can be done in US dollar or Tanzanian Shilling. We suggest withdrawing dollars before you travel. Please note that it is very important that US bills are new (post 2006), crisp and untorn. Otherwise they won’t be accepted by the local banks. It is very helpful to bring an assortment of dollar denominations for tipping on Kilimanjaro.
Have any questions regarding the Kilimanjaro tipping guidelines? Please feel free to speak to us or leave a reply in the comments below.CONTACT US