How to Climb Kilimanjaro Responsibly: #1 Fair Porter Treatment

Are you about to book your Kilimanjaro climb and wonder what you should look out for in your tour operator? Or are you already about to embark on this once-in-a-liftime adventure, and wonder what you could do to climb responsibly?

There are a few things to watch out for. Fair porter treatment is one of them. In this article, we’ll explain the porter treatment situation, what we do to improve it, and what you can do to make a difference.

Why It Matters

The predominant problem caused by Kilimanjaro tourism is the exploitation of porters. Porters are the ones who make Kilimanjaro tours possible for the vast majority of climbers, and who do all the heavy lifting. Sadly, our summit success often comes at the cost of the very people who help us reach our mountaintop.

For example, porters may be subject to the following practices:

  • Not receive their due minimum salary and client tips intended for them
  • Carry company weight in excess of the official 20kg park limit
  • Not even receive three (3) meals per day, despite their hard labour
  • Sleep in conditions that expose them to health and safety threats
  • Not be assisted with descent and medical treatment in case of accidents but simply left behind by their guides to die (unless a responsible tour operator finds them on time to assist)

There is only one organization that monitors Kilimanjaro porter treatment practices – the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), a Tanzanian non-profit organization. Participation in their Partner for Responsible Travel Program is voluntary, but companies must adhere to minimum fair porter treatment standards. Only climbs contracted with a KPAP Partner company are verified ethical climbs.

How We Care

We partner with KPAP to only promote verified ethical climbs operated by approved Partner for Responsible Travel companies to you. Because there are differences even between the KPAP Partner companies (meeting minimum standards or going far beyond), we will also make the porter treatment score of each tour operator partner transparent to you (optional by the company).

Furthermore, as voluntary Board member of the International Mountain Explorers Connection (IMEC), KPAP’s head organization, our Founder is dedicating personal time and resources to provide hands-on support and assistance.

How You Can Make a Difference

We believe that the travel community has the power to change the world through our collective actions. Each and every one of us can choose to travel consciously and make a difference.

By your actions, you can have a tangible impact for the life of your porter and contribute to upgrading industry standards overall. Here’s what you can do – and avoid to do – to support fair porter treatment:

Please do:
Please don’t:
  • Contract with a non-KPAP Partner company to save costs
  • Save on tips, even though you’re satisfied with the service
  • Feel guilty for luxury climbs or hiring additional services such as a private toilet tent or personal porter. They provide more employment opportunities.

We hope that this article has helped you understand the porter treatment situation and how you can make a difference. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave your comments below or contact us.

To climb Kilimanjaro responsibly, you may also want to read about Safety and Leave No Trace.

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