Africa’s tallest mountain could very well be getting a cable car in the near future.
Tanzania is currently experiencing a boom in tourism and the country is actively seeking to capitalise on the success to a maximum.
50,000 trekkers climb Mount Kilimanjaro each year and, in a bid to boost tourism in Tanzania, plans have commenced to build a cable car on the iconic mountain.
The cable car would give those unable to make the week-long trek to the summit the opportunity to experience the mountain’s awe-inspiring beauty. According to the local news agencies, the cable car idea is specifically targeting those over 50 and unable to trek at altitude.
However, it will be also be an option for able-bodied tourists.
This project certainly won’t be the first of its kind; with similar projects having been carried out in South Africa, Italy, Sweden and the Himalayas. These projects have acted as a source of inspiration for the Mount Kilimanjaro cable car.
Tourism is Tanzania’s main source of hard income and the installation of the cable car could spike tourism numbers as high as 50%.
Feasibility studies are currently being conducted to see if the project is possible as well as exploring business plans, investment sources and potential profits. Reportedly, two international companies have already shown interest in taking on the project; one from China and one from a western country.
The route will run along the Machame Route, known for its spectacular beauty and being one of the absolute favourites on the mountain.
Environmental and Social Impact assessments are being carried out by Crescent Environment and Management Consult Limited, with the goal to have as low an impact on the environment as possible. If the assessments are successful, the plan is likely to go ahead.
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Race to increase profits
To climb Kilimanjaro trekkers need to go with a licensed mountain tour operator who takes them up one of the approved routes on the mountain.
Compared to the famous Machu Picchu trek in Peru, with its seasonal permit limitation, there are no such limitations on the amount of Kilimanjaro permits available to tourists per year. The limitations that apply regulate the activity of trekkers and tour companies.
Tour operators are charged a licensing fee to operate on Kilimanjaro and trekkers pay a permit fee of around $1000 to the Kilimanjaro National Park to climb the mountain. This makes the costs of trekking up Kilimanjaro quite expensive with tour operator fees ranging from $2000-$4000 per person.
Is it a good idea?
However, not everyone is happy about the prospect of the cable car.
Porter and guide groups have made it clear that they are very much opposed to the cable car as it could lead to a decrease in the number of climbers, which would impact the job opportunities of the nearly 250,000 porters, their families and entire villages they support.
Another argument against the cable car would be that it could detract from the novelty of climbing the mountain, which is a once in a lifetime experience. Isn’t it a challenge worth savouring?
Wouldn’t the summit trekkers of the future have to clarify that they actually trained for months and then climbed the entire Machame Route and did not take a car? Would they have to document the journey more extensively to prove their achievement? All these questions need to be addressed before the race to secure more money begins.
A petition has been launched to keep Kilimanjaro ‘cable car free’, see Change.org.
Would you take a cable car up Mount Kilimanjaro?