Kilimanjaro Tipping Guidelines
Tanzania’s custom of tipping differs from other countries. Unfortunately, this custom can become contentious if it is not explained. Tanzania is not a wealthy country, and Westerners might see the local customary wages as unjust. Companies outside the Kilimanjaro Tour Operators Association (KIATO) can avoid this requirement, but Kilimanjaro Brothers is a member, and thus pays its porters the customary amount.
Misunderstandings might arise at the end of the climb when guests are asked to tip the workers certain amounts. Understanding this dilemma requires seeing the overall cost of the hike as including the tips. Every porter (or guide, cook, waiter etc) gets the equivalent of his daily wage as a tip at the end of the hike, as opposed to merely doubling the wage. In effect, this means that the daily wage (for example) if a porter is required to be paid US $10/day, PLUS the tip of US $10/day from the group.
Why not just pay the porter US$20/day? The answer is chiefly cultural. In Tanzania, it is seen as honorable and more personal for hikers to go through the ceremony of giving this offering directly to the people who have made this experience possible.
As in any business, there is a defined hierarchy among the workers. In Africa, this hierarchy is important and deserves respect. The workers spend many hard years making their way up the order and have earned the respect that comes with their position. Accordingly, a sliding order governs the tipping amounts, from the porters at the lower end up to the head guide at the top. Going up the scale, the amounts are at the discretion of the hikers, with the understanding that the scale begins with the tip to a minimum of US$10/day for porters, as of 2020.
So we’ve mentioned that a Kilimanjaro mountain crew consists of guides, porters and a cook. The table below explains their duties and says how many are needed per group.
Crew member Role Number
Lead guide Overall trek leader, responsible for your health and safety 1 per group
Assistant guides Lead you safely and efficiently up the mountain, answer your questions, and monitor your health 1 for every 2 or 3 climbers
Cook Prepares all of your food (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks) 1 per group
Porters Carry food, camping equipment and everyone’s personal belongings, set up and strike camp, and take on various other duties 3 per climber
Food, crockery and cooking equipment Chairs and tables Sleeping tents, a mess tent and a toilet tent Sleeping bags and sleeping mats Medical supplies Personal belongings
If you’re wondering why each trekker needs three porters, you won’t be the first! But the reason for this is that everything you need for your six to nine days on the mountain must be carried there and back. We’re talking:
That’s an awful lot of stuff needing to be carried! And each Kilimanjaro porter is only allowed to carry a maximum of 20 kg (excluding their own personal gear).