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.
Kilimanjaro tipping is an essential and customary way of paying your mountain crew
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.
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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.
Kilimanjaro tipping is an essential and customary way of paying your mountain crew
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 to deal with acute mountain sickness on Kilimanjaro (AMS, or altitude sickness) 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 15kg. 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
Every single porter and guide is an essential part of the team
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 sure your Kilimanjaro trip is enjoyable, and above all safe.
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 trip 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.
How much should I be tipping on Kilimanjaro?
KPAP recommended tips are as follows (per group, not per climber)
- $5-7/day for porters
- $20/day for guides
- $12/day for assistant guides
- $12/day for cooks
What does this all mean for my Kilimanjaro climb?
For groups of three or more, the average tip amount per climber on a Follow Alice trip will be between $200 – $250 for a 7 day Kilimanjaro climb. This will vary depending on group size:
Full group climbs (12-16 people)
expect to tip on the lower end of this range
Groups with fewer people (4 to 6 people)
expect to tip on the higher end of this range
Small party climbs of 1-3 people
expect to tip more
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.
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
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.
The Kilimanjaro tipping ceremony
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.
You pay your tips at the end of the climb at the customary ‘tipping ceremony’
What currency should I use?
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.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE
Like any trip you may take around the world, there are additional costs to consider when planning your Kilimanjaro climb. These include the costs associated with tipping your guides and porters, along with the below few important points.
Other additional costs to consider
Vaccines and malaria tablets
Here is more info on recommended vaccinations and medications for Tanzania.
The Tanzania visa fee is $50 for pretty much all western countries (except $100 for US). Visa can be done on arrival. Read more about obtaining a Tanzania visa.
Covers high altitude hiking if you don’t have that already. Read more about the requirements for your Kilimanjaro travel insurance.
Airfares to and from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO)
Solo traveller? Most Kilimanjaro packages are based on double occupancy. This means that if you are a solo traveller or would like your own accommodation (on and off the mountain) you will have to pay a single supplement fee. This can vary from operator to operator. At Follow Alice the single supplement fee is $200
Have any questions regarding the Kilimanjaro tipping guidelines? Please feel free to speak to us or leave a reply in the comments below.