Unfortunately it is not possible to climb Kilimanjaro without a guide.
In 1991 the Tanzanian government and Kilimanjaro National Park Authority changed it’s policy towards unsupported treks on Mount Kilimanjaro. You can download the most recent copy of the National Parks Ordinance (2003) here.
In short the regulations require that all trekkers are accompanied by a registered and licensed guide.
Trekkers need to register with the Parks Authority before beginning their hike, and need to sign in at each camp along their chosen route.
Trekkers need to stay on official routes and are prohibited from using bivouacs or caves for shelter. Wood fires are also prohibited.
The last two regulations necessitate proper camping with adequate camping and cooking gear. For this reason the standard Kilimanjaro trek includes not only a registered guide, but porters to carry tents, gas, food and a trekkers gear.
Hence, without proper planning and permission it is not possible to climb Kilimanjaro without porters as well.
The average ratio of trekkers to support crew are: 1:4, 2:8, 3:12, 4:16. Some tour operators offer lite versions where support crews are smaller and trekkers are required to carry more of their own gear (up to 12kg).
Trekkers also need to pay pretty hefty park entrance fees to climb Kilimanjaro. Here are the park fee tariffs valid from June 2013 to June 2015.
The combination of having to take a guide with a full support crew (incl. a cook), along with having to pay a park entrance fee means that the average 7-day Kilimanjaro trek costs between US$2,000-US$3,000 (incl. transfers). Tour operators who offer treks under US$1,500 are most likely cutting corners and not paying their staff a fair wage.
For those thinking of climbing Kilimanjaro with no porters, here is a useful list of camping tips.
To read about the full costs of trekking Kilimanjaro have a look at this article.
We also provide a free tour operator recommendation service, see here.