You might be planning your trip to climb Africa’s tallest mountain, but in the process of choosing a tour operator, you became aware of the importance of fair porter treatment and responsible travel practices.
That’s a legitimate concern as, historically, porters of all mountain areas may not have good working conditions. Of the more than 20,000 porters on Mount Kilimanjaro, many of them may not be treated properly.
The main problems are a lack of compensation and an unsafe working environment. For example, they may receive a salary below the government announced minimum wage, have poor quality tents and overcrowded sleeping conditions, and may only get one meal per day. In extreme cases, porters have died.
Fortunately, different porter welfare organizations are trying to change things for the better. They assist companies in implementing fair porter treatment practices.
However, not all porter welfare organizations are applying similar standards or have the same level of transparency. This may also apply to various climbing companies.
Consequently, as a traveler, it’s sometimes confusing to figure out who you can trust. How can you be sure that the Kilimanjaro porters that will accompany you on your climb are treated fairly?
Therefore, it’s important to know what to look for when selecting a tour operator to climb Kilimanjaro. This will help you to find out whether they are a legitimate, responsible company and who is monitoring fair porter treatment.
To understand why it’s crucial that porters are treated fairly, it’s necessary to get some more clarity on what the issues are and how porter welfare programs try to solve this.
Why are porters at risk of exploitation?
Fortunately, porter welfare organizations are trying to solve this for the better.
What are porter welfare organizations and what do they do?
Which porter welfare organizations exist and how do they differ?
Let’s have a more detailed look at which services KPAP provides and their work.
What is KPAP?
KPAP is an initiative of the International Mountain Explorers Connection (IMEC), a US 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and was launched in 2003.
What is IMEC?
IMEC created the Partner for Responsible Travel Program to highlight those companies adhering to proper treatment practices. All companies are welcome to collaborate with the Partner Program. However, there are strict screenings and criteria to which a company must adhere to be able to become a partner.
What is the KPAP/IMEC Partner for Responsible Travel Program?
You can find the list of approved Partners for Responsible Travel on the website of the International Mountain Explorers Connection.
Can any tour operator become a KPAP partner?
Fair Voyage has been partnering with KPAP ever since we were founded, and KPAP’s work has been essential for us to be able to ensure at all times that all our climbs are ethical and respect fair porter treatment and responsible travel practices.
Why are internally run porter monitoring programs less trustworthy compared to an independent organization such as KPAP?
How can I check if my preferred company is truly a KPAP partner?
You can learn more about the porters, working conditions and fair porter treatment in our dedicated Kilimanjaro porters article.