To The Kilimanjaro Adventurer

From Wayne Wetherall – Wild Spirit Adventures

When you choose a climb or adventure operator there are certain points that should be checked before you place your life in their hands. Everyone has their own set of criteria – we list below some important issues regarding your Mt Kilimanjaro Climb that may be of interest.

  • Our partner has the experience – operating since 1990 – and over 8000 successful summits of Mt Kilimanjaro. Our partner has a 95%+ success rate, and all our guests come home safe.
  • Our partner has been operating in East Africa longer than any other SA Tour Operator, even before the region opened to South Africans!
  • The majority of our partners’ office team have climbed, and can give first hand advice.
  • Our partner is members of SATOA / SATSA and in Tanzania of TATO e.g. we are legal both in Tanzania and in SA – you have peace of mind when paying your money over that you are dealing with an approved long term member of the industry, who undertakes annual industry led financial analysis to prove their continued viability.
  • Our guides and crew are looked after to international standards, following guidelines laid down by the International Mountain Explorers Connection – in fact our partner isthe only South African linked operator currently working to these guidelines.
  • Guide to climber ratio is one to 2 or 3 guests.
  • Guides are qualified and trained in Mountain Rescue and CPR etc
  • Some guides have well over 400 summits to their name.
  • We carry portable oxygen on all climbs
  • We have available on the mountain portable hyperbaric chambers for groups. Please enquire for details.
  • Guides check guests’ medical condition daily, and monitor this.
  • Our guides are local – e.g. from Moshi, the regional centre, as are our porters. We do not bring in other tribes / people from Arusha etc to work on our climbs, ensuring the area gets the benefit of the income. There is a lot more information contained in other documents you will be sent on booking with this one. These documents will answer many of the questions that you SHOULD be asking before climbing Kilimanjaro (or booking of any travel package!!)

There are a few more points that may help you in this decision:

Price issues – these always come up when groups “research“trips and then compare options. Some will want to go for the cheapest option, some want the better quality and peace of mind of booking through an experienced, reliable licensed operator. At the end of the day, you all buy safe vehicles, put safe tyres on them, and plan to live a long life – don’t compromise on something as important as summiting Kilimanjaro. Temperatures drop to minus 200C, and if you don’t have the correct gear, crew, food and so forth, you may be putting your life, and others, at risk. You want to get to the top, safely – and have a good time doing it.Just looking at our success rate of 95%+, and the AVERAGE success rate of about 50 – 60%, you have about a 30% better chance with us than a budget operator. You don’t want to waste your money. This is where our experienced staff, kit lists, detailed presentations at our offices etc help a LOT.

A lot of the reasons for our success rate boils down to money – we pay enough to get good guides, crew, and to buy you good food, and use decent equipment (which is maintained/upgraded regularly). When you consider that about $600 per person on a 6-day climb goes on park fees alone, and you work out what a budget operator has got left to run a business on, you can see that on budget trips corners will probably be cut. All to the detriment of YOU, the guest.

This could be done in many ways:

  • Dodging Park fees – e.g. paying for a 5-day climb, and doing a 6-day.
  • Not paying their crew properly, porters especially – leaving them to survive on tips only.
  • Overloading porters – and yes, they have even found a way around the National Parks scales at the gate, and manage to load up porters with over 40 kg!!
  • Poor food – not enough budget to buy the right food for altitude – and you can imagine what a “dose of the runs“ does to your chances of getting to the top…
  • Old equipment / not repaired etc.

It has been estimated that in GOOD weather, your summit chances with a budget operator are probably only slightly less than if you climb with a decent operator. In BAD weather, the chances of summiting – indeed surviving without injury – are 40% better with a higher standard of climb. Basically a good, qualified, well paid crew, with decent leadership and good gear, is what you need – and get – from our standard of climb. It is not a luxury trip, but we ensure that both standards and service are maintained to a high level. Our trips are not cheap – and they never will be. We pay our crew well, use good gear, pay local taxes, operate ethically etc. You will however, get good value for money and a good chance at the summit.

Consider the above points well – they are ALL questions you should be asking. I am confident that, knowing the above, we will soon see you on a Wild Spirit Kilimanjaro Climb. If you want cheap, we suggest you contact many of the other “operators“ out there.

Hope to see you up there soon.

Wayne Wetherall

Wild Spirit Adventures