Climb Kilimanjaro Without a Guide – Is It Possible?

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.

11 thoughts on “Climb Kilimanjaro Without a Guide – Is It Possible?

    • 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.

      • 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,
        Anna

        • 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!

          • 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,
            Anna

  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 !

    Mathieu

    • 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.

    • 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

    • 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!

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