The Kilimanjaro Alpine Service exists to serve those who wish to climb Kilimanjaro on a budget, and who understand and are happy to accept the implications of implementing cost reduction measures against mid-range and top-end climbs, but who do not wish to compromise their summit prospects any more than strictly necessary, or make the usual safety-related sacrifices associated with booking a cheap Kilimanjaro climb.
Cheap Kilimanjaro Climbs
There’s a lot of aggressive rhetoric on the Internet about some top-end Kilimanjaro tour operators and middle-men overcharging and making obscene per climber profits on the one hand; and on the other hand, budget companies not paying their staff fair salaries and making dangerous corner-cutting decisions to keep their costs as competitive as possible. Much of what you may already have read is probably true and much will have been exaggerated, however, the basic fact is that if a climber is not very experienced at altitude and not used to moving independently in hostile environments, then choosing to climb with an overtly budget-orientated operator is certainly not an obvious choice and needs to be looked at very carefully. That may sound like a strange way for a budget Kilimanjaro operation to offer their services, but we don’t want to encourage bookings that are made on a false pretence, or attract climbers who will end up disappointed with their decision. Indeed, before making the decision to climb with a budget company, we would prefer that prospective climbers understand how we keep our costs low, so that no-one proceeds with their planning on the basis of any erroneous assumptions.
Choosing a budget Kilimanjaro operator
The reality is that a company that offers cheap Kilimanjaro climbs simply cannot provide the same quality, reliability and newness of equipment, the same calibre of mountain support staffing and professional oversight, and the same volume and quality of climb provisions, as an operator that has more funds to spend on equipping their climbs and attracting the most competent staff. So, at the outset and before proceeding further, it needs to be understood and accepted that when deciding to climb Kilimanjaro on a budget, you will simply not enjoy the same quality of experience and level of support as you would benefit from if choosing to delay your climb a few months or until the following year, and save up a few hundred dollars more to spend on your climb. We are aware that there are claims to the contrary on the Internet, but we believe these to be disingenuous and misleading.
How we keep our own Kilimanjaro climb costs low
For those climbers who are realistic in understanding that in order to achieve a relatively cheap climb (though with park fees being what they are nowadays, that’s a very relative term) certain cuts have to be made, we are very keen to welcome you to consider booking with us. To be as transparent as possible we prefer to state frankly how we reduce our costs. If you’re happy with these measures, we’ll be glad to progress your proposed booking. If you’re dubious about these measures we’ll be willing to advise you who we believe that you would do best to approach, provided you let us know which considerations are most important to you.
- Our guides do not work exclusively for KAS but are also junior members of an operation that is often regarded as amongst the top handful of Kilimanjaro operators. These guides are assigned to KAS when they do not feature on the staff schedules of the other operation. Consequently, although our budget prices mean that we are unable to pay daily wages that are as high as the other operation, these guides are nonetheless very happy to work with the KAS when we schedule them, as the alternative is unpaid inactivity between climbs with the other operation.
- Whereas opting for a budget Kilimanjaro operator usually means having to sleep in very old tents that have been rejected by all serious operators and are available very cheaply on the local market, or else in tents that have been bought from a grocery store that are actually designed for family beach use or similar, and ought not really to be used on a mountain, climbing with KAS entails use of professional mountain equipment, but whose grade is conspicuously lower than more upmarket operations. With upmarket operations climbers can usually expect spaciousness that minimises condensation and aids personal administration while in camp, with the KAS climbers need to accept that they will be accommodated in tents that are less new and much more compact. That said, we do our utmost to ensure that all of our equipment is serviceable and appropriate for use on Kilimanjaro.
- Whereas with an upmarket operation, climbers ought to expect a very comprehensive level of support that allows for three course hot lunches which enable climbers to relax for an hour at the day’s chosen high point, which maximises rest, nutrition and hydration, and so enhances summit prospects, with budget-oriented operations, including the KAS, climbers will not enjoy the use of mess tents and so will be required to take their meals within their own tents. Eliminating the otherwise very welcome use of mess tents is a very necessary, though regrettable measure, when aiming to eliminate any costs that are not strictly necessary. Carrying robust mess tents that are appropriate for use in cold environments significantly adds to the overall porterage load and therefore staff numbers and salary requirements.
- This is by no means an exhaustive description of our cost saving methods. These measures are however, the most significant. It should be noted that while our wage structure does not attract the very best cooks, we nonetheless aim to supply our climbs with a very high standard of nutrition.
The benefits of climbing Kilimanjaro with the Kilimanjaro Alpine Service
Because we are managed as an extension of a high-level Kilimanjaro climb operator we benefit from the same professional oversight of highly trained expedition coordinators, as well as having access to the same extensive infrastructure of staffing, transportation, communications, and equipment - albeit with cost-cutting downgraded options wherever safety is not impacted.
Being under the auspices of this senior operation means that the same comprehensive level of multi-directional communication between climbers, support staff and management, is maintained, with families and friends of climbers able to watch climbs in real-time by following our daily updated Kilimanjaro Google Map.
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