• Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • Climb Kilimanjaro Without A Guide – Is It Possible?

Climb Kilimanjaro Without A Guide – Is It Possible?

Mark Whitman

First things first, unfortunately it is not possible to climb Kilimanjaro without a guide.

In 1991 the Tanzanian government and Kilimanjaro National Park Authority changed its policy towards unsupported treks on Mount Kilimanjaro. In short the regulations require that all trekkers are accompanied by a registered and licensed guide.

This may come as bad news if you were hoping to climb Kilimanjaro without joining a group. The good news is that there are plenty of reasons why climbing Kilimanjaro with a professional team is better for your safety and chances of summit success.

Plan your Kilimanjaro trek

Get a quote from our recommended local Kilimanjaro operator

Why Can't I Climb Kilimanjaro Without A Guide?

There are several reasons why the Tanzanian government made the decision to ban solo climbers or self-organised groups on the mountain. These are the main ones;

hiking guide

You are not allowed to climb Kilimanjaro without a guide. Bryson, the head guide on my recent Kilimanjaro trek, was an invaluable source of info and support.


The main reason you need a guide and support crew on Kilimanjaro is for your own safety. 

A registered operator will carry all the necassary gear to keep you warm, well fed and hydrated on the mountain. Guides are trained in first aid as well as monitoring altitude sickness symptoms.

With years of experience, you're guide will be quick to pick up the difference between 'normal' reactions to the change in altitude and changes that could be more serious. They can also advise on how best to manage these symptoms. Teams carry an oxygen bottle for use in serious situations.

Guides also ensure trekkers maintain a slow pace, this is important for acclimatisation. Rushing up can have disastrous effects, regardless of how fit you are.

sign base camp kilimanjaro guide

The altitude on Kilimanjaro is not to be taken lightly. It's important that trekkers always follow the advise of their guide and don't try to hide symptoms.


A large reason why the Kilimanjaro trekking industry has developed the way it has is because of competition between companies.  Local operators strive to provide the best experience and  highest chance of summit success all while maintaining the lowest possible price.

This has resulted in Kilimanjaro camps becoming increasingly well organised. In the past, hikers trekked up carrying their own supplies and often slept in caves. These days, porters carry most of the load and guests arrive to an already pitched tent, hot meals and even a private bathroom!

Although this can seem overboard (especially to those who are used to roughing it on their own), it does have its purpose. A more comfortable camp and lighter backpack mean that you can save your energy for when you need it most, summit night!

Local Income

A big reason for the decision to restrict activity on Kilimanjaro is of course financially motivated.

Kilimanjaro trekking team

Each person involved in supporting clients to reach Kilimanjaro summit (including those in the office) is earning a livelihood through tourism. It's worth thinking about before you complain about the price of your trek.

Thousands of Tanzanians living in the Moshi and Arusha area rely on the mountain as a means to support their family. For every porter, cook and guide on your team, there are multiple family members benefiting from your trek.

Stricter regulation of hikers on the mountain has also enabled the authorities to better regulate the local operators. This includes the treatment and payment of porters, which has been shocking in the past.

Without tourists on the mountain, the local economy comes to a standstill. This was painfully highlighted during the COVID pandemic when thousands of people were left unemployed until travel re-opened.

Cost Implications Of Hiking  Mt. Kilimanjaro Guided

porters kilimanjaro

For each hiker, multiple porters are hired to carry tents, food, belongings and other gear.

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. Depending on which route you choose and the number of days on the mountain, the fees range from $800-$1200 (including 18% VAT tax).

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 wages (see our guide on how much it costs to climb Kilimanjaro).

Tags: can you climb Kilimanjaro without a guide, climbing Kilimanjaro without a guide, can you climb Kilimanjaro on your own, climb Kilimanjaro without a guide, climbing Kilimanjaro alone

Mark Whitman

Hi, I'm Mark! Welcome to Climb Kilimanjaro Guide - the Web's No.1 Trekking Guide to Mount Kilimanjaro. This site is your one stop shop for everything Kilimanjaro. To date over 5 million people have visited Climb Kilimanjaro Guide, many of which have gone on to summit Kili! I hope you find all the answers you are looking for, but if you have any questions don't hesitate to drop a comment below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

    1. Hi Mark, the park fees for Kilimanjaro are approx. $900 pp for a 7/8 day climb. In addition to this a guide will charge about $15-$20 per day. Not sure what your plans will be for food or camping gear, but the weight per climber can easily exceed 35kg when you factor in your personal hiking kit too, making porters a very good option. Here the cost ranges from $7-$10 per day. I think the cheapest you could sensibly do Kilimanjaro on with just a guide and maybe two porters is about $1200 pp. This excludes all transport / hotels pre and post. Hope this helps.

      1. Hi,

        Thank you for the interesting information about the Kili climb. Me and a friend, being experienced hikers, are searching for options to do the climb with a guide and a porter or two for the guide, but no porters for us. As you mention here, that seems to be possible option but it has been hard to find information about someone actually doing the climb this way. I was wondering if you could help us with two small questions:
        Have you any experience in doing it without porters for oneself? Do you know of any companies or guides that offer this option?

        Best regards,

        1. Hi Anna, Unfortunately I have never climbed Kilimanjaro without porters and I don’t know any companies that offer this type of service (although I’m sure there must be). There are some local operators who may offer a cut down / lite service with some porterage, but again I don’t know there names. My advice would be to approach as many operators as possible and ask whether they could taylor a tour with limited porterage. All the best!

          1. Hi again,

            Thank you for the fast response and advice. We will contact some operators and continue our search for a different option on Kili.

            All the best,

          2. Hello Anna,

            I was wondering whether you found any success in your plan? I was thinking of doing the same thing, but as you said, information is limited. Would appreciate any advice. Thanks!

          3. Hey Anna!
            I am wondering the same, whether you found a way to climb Kili as you wanted to. Any advise will be much appreciated. Thanks!

  1. Hi guys,
    2 friends of mine and myself would like to climb Kilimanjaro with a limited crew : 2 guides + 1 or 2 porters.
    We’ve planned to do it on mid of November 2016.
    Can you me provide me any contact who can help us to tailor our trip?
    Thanks in advance !


    1. Hi Mathieu, I’m not aware of any operators who can provide a cut down support team, there may be some local operators who could tailor a trip like this for you, but unfortunately I don’t have any one on hand to recommend. Hope you manage to find a suitable solution.

    1. Hi Michael, The Kilimanjaro National Park regulations stipulate that you have to have a registered guide with you at all times in the park.

  2. how many person climb kilimanzaro every year and what is the sucsses rate
    how much is cost per person all enclusive

    1. Hi Gajendra, there isn’t super accurate data on total trekker numbers a year, but we estimate that it is around 35,000 people a year. It could be as high as 50,000 though. Success rates vary by route and length. The longer routes that spend more time on the mountain have higher success rates than the shorter routes. For example, the 7 day Machame or 8 day Lemosho has a success rate over 80%, whereas the 5-day Marangu is probably closer to 65% or 70%. Hope that helps!

  3. Hello
    Please i would like to do the trekking solo by my self witout any porter or cooker..for me it’s not about reach the summit just to do it alone it’s possible by the government for 3 to 4 day by shortest road

    1. Hi Ali, unfortunately it is not possible to hike Kilimanjaro without a guide. Some operators offer trimmed down services that don’t include porters, but this means carrying most of the gear yourself. In terms of the shortest route to the summit, the 5-day Marangu is your best bet. This route has hut accomodation so you can definitely do it just with a guide.

  4. Hi Mark,
    We are a family of 2 adults and 4 children (ages 14, 12, 11, 9). Our family have done a lot of treking and our children have had experience with all that’s involved in multi day treks. Among others we trek to Annapurna Base Camp over a year ago (12 days) and we all had an amazing time!!
    Anyway just checking about prices for our family. We understand that we need to have a guide. However we are all use to carrying our own gear (tents, food, bedding, etc). Therefore do we need a porter? Also does the park have prices for children? Would there be a guide you know who would take just our family at a family rate? If for some reason one of our family members get effected by altitude then we all won’t continue. Thanks so much for your help!!!!
    Jane Cann

    1. Hi Jane, sounds like you have an amazing bunch of kids and you guys are amazing parents! There aren’t many tour operators who offer a cut down service on Kilimanjaro. Almost all include the full service with porters. You might need to shop around if you only want to take a guide, but unfortunately I don’t have anyone to recommend. You might need to also wait until your youngest is 10 years old, as that is the minimum age on Kili. Kids do get cheaper permits so make sure to let your tour operator consists of 4 kids. Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks Mark!!!
        Yes, they are a great bunch of kids. Our youngest turns 10 in Decemeber and we were thinking about doing the climb in March next year. I’ll have a look around. Thanks again for you time.

  5. I will spend 2days in Moshi so I want to go for one day track to Mandara hut..I suppose to find guide also?snd how much it normally cost?

    1. Hi Bella, unfortunately you do need a guide if you want to enter Kilimanjaro National Park. Some companies arrange walking tours in the park.

  6. Mark, my husband has some neck and back issues and we are considering either the Lemosho or Machame Routes and I am wondering if you have experienced the ride to Londorossi Gate. I heard it was a tough road and ride. Is it worth going out to Lemosho or is the trek similar as Machame with regard to difficulty. Lastly, do you recommend going from Barranco to Barafu in one day? We are trekking with an experienced hiker that lives in Denver and he wants to skip the Karanga camp and I’m a bit concerned since we live at sea level. Your advice is much appreciated.

    1. Hi Angie, The road to Londorossi is a little bumpy, especially if it has rained. The Lemosho has a slightly higher and wilder start than the Machame. Less people do the Lemosho so the trail is also quieter. But on day 3 the two routes merge. I’m a big fan of the 7 day Machame, although this stops at Karanga camp for the night. The 6 day stops at Karanga for lunch but then continues on to Barafu. I have done both the 6 and 7 day version and I would say the additional day stop at Karanga really helps, especially if someone in your party is not feeling well. I hope this helps!

  7. Ok, so what about for the endurance athlete?

    I live at 7,000 ft of elevation. I don’t need to acclimatize. I’ve ran to the summit of Mt Whitney and down round trip in 7 hours and 20 minutes. I don’t need to spend 7 days going up and down on relatively non-technical trail. I don’t need someone to carry my food, tent, water. I’m perfectly capable.

    I understand that guides are required. Is there any way to get a guide that would be willing to do this more as a fast-pack?

    I’m sorry. This isn’t meant to sound condescending. It’s frustrating to see something become so expensive when I have experience backing my capabilities that I can just go out and do on a weekend on my own. And honestly, I don’t want someone cooking for me.

  8. I have a question about being able to climb the mountain on your own without the need of a guide. Was it possible to climb on your own back in 1994 if you were part of the military?

  9. Hello, we would like to do a one day hike from Marangu to Mandara hut. Can we find a guide in Marangu? Thank you!

  10. Are there other treks in Tanzania that don’t require a $900 park entrance fee? I’ve trekked in Nepal and was wondering if its possible to trek from village to village someone where in the country? Thanks

  11. Do you think less expensive options might just not be paying as extensively for US marketing? I hate to assume their salary svelte is too blame.

  12. Hi mark. I want to climb with my son we both are experienced hikers. Looking to go in September. Looking at an eight day hike. Lemosho route. Any recommendations on tour operators. Or the best way to go about making plans. I am from the USA. Thanks

    1. Hi Henry, there are a few guides who will take you on a self-supported hike up Kilimanjaro. I’m not personally aware of any, I recommend reaching our to a few operators to see if they offer “lite” versions.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Get a quote from our recommended local Kilimanjaro operator