When you climb the Rooftop of Africa, the company you keep will help to shape your experiences.
There are two main options to consider when deciding who – if anyone – you will climb with. You can choose to join one of the Kilimanjaro group tours arranged by Fair Voyage or organize a private tour.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages and the type of tour you choose will largely depend upon your budget, group size and preferences. In this blog, we will look at the pros and cons of both options.
We will also look at some of the other considerations you need to keep in mind when selecting a tour to help you decide which one works best for you.
What is a Kilimanjaro group tour?
So we will start by defining what a Kilimanjaro open group tour is.
A Kilimanjaro open group tour is one in which anyone can join the climb. This means that you will join other climbers that have booked the same tour and it is not limited to the people in the group knowing each other.
Group tours tend to be cheaper when compared to private tours and they have a set schedule. Some operators require a minimum of two people to join the tour before the booking can be confirmed. All climbs have a maximum number of participants, so be sure to book in advance to secure your place.
Advantages of a Kilimanjaro group tour
Kilimanjaro group tours can reduce the cost per climber significantly, because tour operators are able to spread some fixed costs per climb amongst the number of participants. Joining a group tour also makes it easier to meet people and form close bonds and friendships with other climbers. Indeed, some climbers describe the bonds they form with others on the tour as one of the most rewarding aspects of their Kilimanjaro experience. Other people in the group may also offer much needed mutual support and inspiration during that last summit push.
Disadvantages of a Kilimanjaro group tour
However, there are also disadvantages to joining an open group tour.
One of the disadvantages of joining a Kilimanjaro group tour is that you may have to adjust your walking speed to that of others. If you're a faster climber, you may have to adjust your walking pace to that of the slowest. Conversely, the slowest person may feel pressured to walk faster. Tour operators will handle this differently. Some keep the group together at all times, while others allow faster climbers to go ahead with a guide and slower hikers to stay behind with another guide.
Another disadvantage is that pre-scheduled group tours run on a fixed schedule – which may not always be convenient for you.
Is it possible to customize a Kilimanjaro group tour?
Sometimes people ask whether it is possible to customize a Kilimanjaro open group tour to make it more convenient.
Unfortunately, when joining an open group trek to climb Kilimanjaro, it is not possible to downgrade the package to customize your Kilimanjaro group climb make it cheaper. For example, you might not require emergency oxygen or a dining tent that are included in the climb package. However, the cost of these items is already factored into the price paid by other climbers.
It wouldn't be fair to them if they would be required to pay more, and it could lead to friction in your climbing group.
In case of emergency, of course your guide would use the emergency oxygen paid for by other climbers for your safety benefit. Other climbers may be annoyed about you getting a free ride at their cost.
However, to the extent allowed by Kilimanjaro National Park regulations, it is always possible to downgrade and fully customize a private group climb.
This may help you save a lot of money if you are a group of at least 5 climbers booking together. If you are a solo traveller, or you are travelling as a couple, please note it would almost always be cheaper to join a higher-quality group climb, then organize your own lower-quality budget climb.
What else do you need to know when considering a Kilimanjaro group tour?
Another thing to consider when booking a Kilimanjaro open group tour is the number of people in your group.
The maximum number of people in a mount Kilimanjaro group tour is usually between eight and 12. This does not mean that tours will always fill up to that number. Tours that are well advertised and popular tend to fill up while others may have fewer participants but still offer an equally good service.
There are also open group tours containing just three people and bigger tour groups with more than 15 people, although these are not as common.
Is a Kilimanjaro group tour right for you?
Group tours have their advantages and disadvantages. If you can find a Kilimanjaro group tour that runs on a date that is convenient for you, we would certainly recommend this option. This is because joining a group tour to climb Kilimanjaro helps to keep costs down. It also allows you to meet other likeminded people. This aspect of a group tour cannot be understated. Many lasting friendships have been formed while climbing.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is a very unique and challenging experience. The bonds you share with others who climb with you can be profound and life-changing.
What are Kilimanjaro private tours?
An alternative to Kilimanjaro group tours are private tours.
A private Kilimanjaro tour is one that is arranged exclusively for a climber and whoever they are travelling with. These tours are limited to people who either know each other or are choosing to hike together. When you book a private tour, others will not be able to join unless you have booked together. These tours can be more expensive than group tours, especially for singles, depending on the number of people in your private group.
Advantages of a Kilimanjaro private tour
There are many advantages to taking a private tour to climb Kilimanjaro. The main advantage is that you can set your own schedule and it means that you have the full flexibility to go where you like. If there is something on the itinerary that you don’t like or you need to change the schedule for any reason, you have more freedom to do so, when you take a private tour to climb Kilimanjaro. All the items included in the tour will be set according to your individual requirements. You can also take the tour at a time that suits you and climb Kilimanjaro at your own pace.
Disadvantages of a private tour
The main disadvantages of a private tour when climbing Kilimanjaro is that it works out to be more expensive for solo climbers or couples.
For single people it is a particularly expensive option as it means they will have to pay a single person supplement.
On a private tour it is also unlikely that you will get the same group bonding experience that you would on a group tour.
This can be a rather lonely experience if you are by yourself. However, you will still meet other hikers along the way and at campsites, so there is some opportunity to socialize with others.
How many people are in a private tour?
The number of climbers in a private Kilimanjaro tour really depends upon your requirements and preferences. So if you are going by yourself, your private tour will consist of one person although you should be aware that you will need to pay a single person supplement. However, if you are planning to climb Kilimanjaro with a group of people, then the number of people in a private tour will depend upon the number of people in your group.
Is a private Kilimanjaro tour right for you?
The decision to organize a private Kilimanjaro tour depends upon your priorities, budget and requirements. If having full flexibility over your schedule is important to you, then a private tour may be your best option.
Similarly, if you prefer to go at your own pace and you are concerned about having to adjust your walking pace to match other people, you may also benefit from a private tour.
However, if it is important for you to be able to save money or socialize with other climbers, then you may instead want to join a group tour. Ultimately, the decision to book a private tour will depend upon your preferences.
The decision on whether to book a private tour or Kilimanjaro group tour depends on whether you already have a group of friends or family that will join you. Those who cannot motivate others to come along tend to join group tours, while groups of friends or family hiking together tend to organize their own private tour.
However, once you do find people you want to climb with – remember that you will be spending at least 6 days on the mountain with each other, depending on the route you take, so it is always a good idea to climb with likeminded people that have similar plans and preferences to you.
Another potential disadvantage of private tours are that you may miss out on the bonding experiences with other climbers outside of your private tour group. You will of course meet other climbers on the way, but some find it easier to connect with others on an open group tour.
Although private tours can be somewhat more expensive, this depends on how many people are in your group and the customizations you require. The more people you travel with, the less expensive a private tour will be, and you get the benefit of having complete flexibility over your tour.
Others prefer the social atmosphere and bonding associated with open group tours. People often describe the community atmosphere on the campsites of Kilimanjaro created by the unique experiences that you share with other climbers. However, it is important to note that group tours are less flexible than private tours, although this may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, when you are otherwise overwhelmed by seemingly limitless choices.
Regardless of the type of tour you choose, the most important consideration is to select the right tour operator. For advice on how to select right operator, read our ‘How to find the best Kilimanjaro tour operators’ blog.
You may also enjoy our blog on ‘Group tours to Kilimanjaro: How to find the best tour‘.
For a more comprehensive overview of different types of tours, itineraries and further information about our packages, visit our climb Kilimanjaro Experience Page.