Do yourself (and your wallet) a favour and absolutely book your Kilimanjaro trip with Team Maasai ASAP.
As budget travellers the options available to us were either budget climbs or no climb at all. Whilst we were a little sceptical given the company is brand new (we were the third expedition) and the prices were around half the competitors, we were entirely blown away by the product and service we received in relation to every aspect of the trip. Rather than blab on I will stick to the facts:
· Our trip was 6 days, via the Rongai route
· We had amazing weather the entire time
· We paid $1350 pp for two people and were not combined with any other groups
· We organised the whole trip less than two weeks prior to commencement and settled the 75% balance on the day of departure (great flexibility for budget travellers)
· Our team was 11 in total (us two Australian tourists, 2 guides, cook, 6 porters)
· The guides were fantastic guys with great English and knowledge of the area
· Most (7 of the nine) of the guys were Maasai. In comparison to the standard touristy village visit this provided us with the most incredible insight into REAL, modern maasai culture. We spent 6 days getting to know and spending time with the guys and learnt a lot about their traditional culture as well as their current life styles and how they and their elders have adapted to the 21st century way of life. Each day the boys did maasai dancing and singing for their own entertainment (rather than a zoo-like show in many other tourist maasai settings) and included us – for instance jumping and singing. This was particularly fantastic as on summit night we sang Swahili and Maasai tribal songs all the way up the side of the crater
· The food was basic but fantastic and very plentiful (excessive may be a better word). We did not loose our appetite once and enjoyed spending time talking with the chef and helping him cook (but obviously weren’t required to)
· The equipment is the older equipment used by their expensive sister company (Team Kilianjaro) and whilst not shiny and new, is perfectly adequate and of the same quality – we did not have a problem once on the trip. Excess and personal equipment can be hired at very reasonable rates and is incredibly good quality (sleeping bags, summit jackets, mittens, etc)
· All of the administration, support and training is run through Team Kilimanjaro – for example we had minor payment issues and were able to sort quickly and effectively over the phone with the British owner of the company (John). We actually met John after the trip to personally thank him for the incredible experience that still in hindsight seems too good to be true
· Costs are saved by avoiding unnecessary (in my view) expenses such as specific dining tents [we much preferred to eat outside in the amazing environment, and on the one night it rained, we would rather have been in our tent anyway] and a toilet tent [there are toilets at every camp anyway].
Overall I would insist my friends and family use Team Maasai – even if they were happy to spend double the money as you don’t miss out on anything of real value and the experience with the team and maasai people is something unique and otherwise unavailable. I would even be happy to personally discuss with any Australians (0410 159 860) who are considering going and/or send photos of our trip as I strongly believe there is no other Kilimanjaro experience worth paying for now that team Maasai is on the map.