by Tarun November 25, 2014
Mt. Kilimanjaro via Machame (6 Days)
Note: The below review was posted to Trip Advisor as well. I would add that I payed ~USD2000 before my trip (for both Kili and a 3 day safari) via bank transfer without any issues.
Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is without a doubt a rewarding and unique life experience. The landscape, the history and the challenge of the climb itself combine to make it a memorable destination. I highly recommend it to groups or, how I did it, as a sole traveler. Once you decide to do Kili, the most important decision is the travel company to arrange it with; and without a doubt, there is no better option than Kilimanjaro Crew.
All my interactions with Kili Crew were great. It starts with their very informative website discussing all details of the mountain: Detail description of the climbing routes, gear list, travel arrangements, the works. Then, very importantly, followed by a very responsive and helpful communication, in my case with Kili’s sole owner: John Samson. After arrangements were quickly done, I payed the first deposit via bank transfer: A process, for those that not accustomed to it, much simpler than what you’d expect. A couple of weeks before the trip, I ended up paying 100% of the cost (normal arrangement is 50% up-front and 50% upon arrival in Moshi, Tanzania) with the goal of not carrying as much cash with me. Upon arrival, a Kili crew driver and my guide for the mountain picked me from the airport and drove me to the hotel. They quickly took care of all the arrangements before we set for the climb, including helping me obtain a local phone SIM card.
In the mountain, my guide, Amiri, and his crew were the best hike companions anyone can have. Everyone was as helpful as they could be, their attention to detail was top-notch, including very importantly, the excellent food. Amiri was an encyclopedia of the mountain, always full of knowledge, and with whom I enjoyed many conversations about the mountain, Tanzania, Moshi, life, etc. But most importantly, he is a great hike leader who was instrumental in me reaching the top safely.
Finally, after the climb, I met with John for a meal and spoke with him at length about his company. Kilimanjaro Crew is solely owned by him, meaning all your travel money stays in Tanzania helping the local economy. Furthermore, John set up the company with two guiding principles. First, provide an alternative to the many tourists that cannot afford the usual prices; and indeed Kili Crew had the best price of all the other options I found. And secondly, provide steady employment to all his guides and porters, despite the variable tourist flow, thus providing them with predictable income and a better life for them and their families.
Whether you base your decision on expertise, friendliness, prices, and/or support for a locally owned company, Kilimanjaro Crew is undeniably the way to go.