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Porter Treatment


Climbing Kilimanjaro is a great achievement, and it would be impossible without the help of your porters. As you trudge up the mountain willing your legs not to give out on you, your porters rush by, laden with heavy packages, so they can get everything set up for you by the time you roll into camp.


When you’re standing at the summit of Kilimanjaro and reflecting on what an amazing journey it’s been, your porters are already mentally preparing for their next trek up the mountain.


The life of a porter isn’t easy, and virtually every trekker that goes up Kilimanjaro comes back with a healthy sense of respect, and even awe for this grueling job.


The best way to show your appreciation for these hard-working people is by choosing to climb with a company that treats them right.


What Does a Kilimanjaro Porter Do?

As the name suggests, the porter’s main job is to carry all the equipment required for the whole team. This includes not only personal equipment for each guest, but also tents, sleeping bags, food, oxygen bottles, medical kits, stretchers, hyperbaric chambers, toilets, and any garbage that’s generated along the way.


Once they reach camp, it’s time to set up. This includes putting up the toilet, your tents, and sometimes also the sleeping bags and inflatable pads.


The porters are also responsible for sanitizing all the water that’s used for cooking, cleaning, and drinking. They also help the cook prepare and serve the food, and clean the dishes afterward.


As you get higher and higher up the mountain, the porters will cheer you on and just generally have your back – giving you positive encouragement along the way.


Altitude takes a crazy toll on our bodies, and you may find yourself relying on one or more of the porters to do everything you’re not able to do – from tying a shoelace to quickly repairing a boot. Essentially, the porters make it possible for you to climb Kilimanjaro.


Porter Working Conditions

Being a porter is inherently a tough job, but it’s made even tougher if you add substandard working conditions into the mix. Unscrupulous employers routinely force porters to carry as much as 40kg of gear instead of the recommended 20kg.


If they aren’t working for a reputable company, they often have ragged clothes and worn-out shoes, which can translate to hypothermia and even death on cold nights. Factor in the many porters who aren’t provided with enough food or proper shelter, and it’s easy to see why many porters perish on Kilimanjaro.


Most porters are freelancers who don’t benefit from a permanent contract or healthcare. Instead, they show up at the gates and hope someone will hire them.




The recommended minimum wage for porters is 20,000 Tsh per day (around $8.50), but many budget operators pay just half of this, or take way too long to pay them, or in the worst cases, don’t pay them at all. When it’s time to tip, some unscrupulous operators pocket all the money for themselves instead of divvying it out to the whole crew.


Being a porter is one of few job options available to many young Tanzanians who lack higher education or specialized training. But there are thousands of would-be porters and relatively few jobs, which makes it easy for companies to take advantage of the workers on the lowest rung.


Properly clothing, feeding, and paying porters costs money, and many unscrupulous companies try to cut corners by hiring less

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