Rucksack Readers

Rucksack Readers => Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania => Topic started by: johnnypict on January 21, 2008, 07:38:55 pm

Title: Best guides and comparison
Post by: johnnypict on January 21, 2008, 07:38:55 pm

I've wanted to climb Kilimanjaro for a couple of years now.  Can I ask your opinion on the following;

Who are the best guides/ company to use if travelling from Scotland?

I've only climbed Munros in Scotland.  To train for the event does anyone have any ideas.  I obviously can't train for the altitude, but what could I do as far as climbing Munros is concerned? Two a day for a week???



Title: Re: Best guides and comparison
Post by: Jacquetta on January 30, 2008, 01:26:37 pm
Hello and welcome

Training: if you can fit in several Munros per day, or even per week, for a few weeks before you go you will probably be as fit as you need to be.

Altitude is harder to predict: everybody reacts differently, and the same person at same altitude on different occasions can feel different.  Best protection is
a) awareness of symptoms
b) sensible itinerary/choice of route: which route do you intend to use?
c) if possible, climb Mt Meru immediately before doing Kili, this comes close to being perfect pre-acclimatisation.

Travelling from Scotland, I've so far used KLM as it's a short hop to Amsterdam then a direct flight to Kilimanjaro International (JRO) instead of changes of plane.  As for best company, they all use ground agents at the Tanzanian end so it really depends on that.  I had fairly good experience with Shah Tours and also with Zara, but both of these were a few years ago.  Can anybody add more recent experience?

Title: Re: Best guides and comparison
Post by: johnnypict on June 09, 2008, 07:00:22 pm
I've already started the Munro bagging and rock climbing, and I'll be climbing more Munros over the next year so hopefully I'll be fit enough. I'm planning to make the trip around June next year.

I'm still trying to decide which company to use and therefore that may make my mind up which route I take.


Title: Re: Best guides and comparison
Post by: Jacquetta on June 09, 2008, 08:13:55 pm
There's lots of companies out there, but remember that virtually all those who operate out of the UK (or any other "developed" country) are actually using a Tanzanian partner (mostly based in Moshi) to deliver the service on the mountain.  So a decision to book with, for example, Explore! actually amounts to a choice to use Shah Tours.  You'll also find that a lot of companies based "down south" aren't aware that you can make much sweeter connections by flying from Scotland to Amsterdam than by using their Heathrow flights.

Some people wonder about dealing direct with the Tanzanian agent instead, and certainly that's possible, though sometimes getting responses can be difficult or impossible and language difficulties can lead to misunderstandings.  A good compromise is to book through ( which is run by Harry Kikstra (based in Amsterdam).  Declaration of interest: he is one of our authors, so I am not unbiased :)  However, I used his service in 2004 (when I did Mt Meru with Rongai) and found it better value and more flexible than the British companies.  His partner in Moshi is Zara Tours, and their hotel (the Springlands) is really comfortable, with a swimming pool and views of Kili from its balconies.

The important point about Zara is that they offer the full range of routes, with options for Meru, and you can depart on any day of the year with any group size.  Most British companies pre-select the route, whereas 7summits/Zara put the package together for whichever route you want and whatever departure dates.  Think about doing Rongai, Machame or Lemosho rather than Marangu if possible.  I'm off to try Lemosho in ten days time, and I've booked it through 7summits again: I used the KLM website in April to identify flight dates, then it just took a few emails to get the route and dates confirmed for me and my two friends.

You may feel there are downsides to the 7summits approach: you need to book your own flights, you don't get a glossy brochure and you do need to pay in dollars.  Anyway, the website has a wealth of information on it, so be sure to visit it for its route diagrams, the photographs and the FAQs.  Also compare the prices with other operators and decide for yourself what's worth paying extra for.  But let us know how you get on with training and what you decide in the end.  One thing's certain, you're going to be loads better prepared than I am, having stumbled into this decision in a wine-soaked conversation at London Book Fair only in April! :o