smiling porter on kilimanjaro
Thomson trekkers have access to an incredible ally on their trek: the personal porter. Strong, friendly, encouraging and kind, personal porters can lighten your load as you trek to Uhuru Peak.

But, how do you know if you really need that assistance? Should you hire a personal porter on Kilimanjaro? Whether you’re a trekking veteran or making your first-ever hike to the Kilimanjaro summit, here’s the breakdown.


First, what does a personal porter do?

Unlike the Thomson porters who carry your camping gear, food and safety supplies, personal porters are dedicated solely to your trekking needs. Most importantly, they carry your daypack all the way up the mountain, and all the way down. That’s 10-20 pounds off your back–over the course of a weeklong trek at altitude, that adds up.

porter carrying backpack for trekkerPorter taking daypack from trekker mid-trail

Personal porters do so much more, too!

  • They lift your spirit on the route to Uhuru Peak, providing encouragement, companionship and kindness when you need it most.
  • They enrich your experience. Our guests love learning about Tanzanian culture on the mountain from their personal porters. It’s a wonderful bonding experience.
  • They’re there for you! Every personal porter has made the trek to the top of Kilimanjaro many, many times. They know when to offer assistance, when to help you drink water and when you need to take a break.

 Thomson is incredibly thankful for the work these porters do–every year, we express our gratitude during Porter Appreciation Week.


Why Trekkers Hire Personal Porters

Put plainly, personal porters increase your chance of summit success on Kilimanjaro. With less gear weighing you down, your muscles will take you farther with less effort. Some trekkers also hire personal porters to support Tanzanians who rely on travel to provide an income.

Trek with Thomson porters and your chance of reaching Uhuru Peak skyrockets–these Hercules are part of the reason our guests have a 98% summit success rate.


Okay, But do I Really Need a Personal Porter?

Everyone has different needs on Kilimanjaro, depending on their fitness, trekking experience, preparedness, emotional resolve and other factors. Not everyone needs to hire a personal porter. Only you can make that decision–but we’ll do our best to offer some helpful perspective.

Some trekkers resist the idea of hiring a personal porter because they believe it diminishes their achievement, that they’re not really summiting Kilimanjaro on their own. It’s important to know there’s no stigma on the mountain when it comes to asking for help–your guides will reiterate this constantly on the trail. And the porters carrying your tents, meals, gear and safety supplies are proof that you can’t do this alone.

For some trekkers, having that little help can make a big difference. For others, a personal porter can mean the difference between summiting at Uhuru Peak and not summiting. Our guests say it best!
thomson trekker with personal porter at summit of mount kilimanjaro

“My personal porter Maulidi was the very first person I hugged when I reached Uhuru Peak. There is no way I could have reached the top without him. His ever-present smile, support and encouragement is something I will never forget!” – Erin Knerr


porter delivers coffee or tea at your tent in the morning

“I would love to give a shout out to Abed Said! He set up my tent, took down my tent, and on the hard hiking days, he, with other porters, met me on the trail to take my pack. He also would shake out my very dusty gaiters and made sure I had everything I needed. He absolutely made a huge difference in my climb to the top of Kilimanjaro! Thank you, Abed Said!” – Laura Fingerson


“My porter Faustine was highly perceptive to the unique physical and mental challenges I faced while climbing Mt Kili…Faustine without a doubt, helped to push me on to the summit by constantly saying out loud in an emphatic voice: ‘Candace! You are a strong woman, you can do this! You are doing this for all the strong women!’ I can’t tell you how much this helped me succeed on summit day.” – Candace Groudine


Is Hiring a Personal Porter Ethical?

With Thomson, you can be confident that your porters are treated well. Thomson sets the “premier standard for ethical treatment of Kilimanjaro Porters,” according to the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP). Fairness has always been one of our top priorities.

Thomson porters:

  • Are among the highest paid on the mountain
  • Are paid electronically into individual bank accounts, with fair tip distribution
  • Receive professional gear, eat three meals a day, and adhere to carrying-weight maximums

Plus, when you hire a personal porter, you’re supporting individual Tanzanians and the broader Tanzanian economy, all of which rely on trekkers like you to stay afloat. Learn more about socially responsible trekking on Kilimanjaro.


How Do I Hire a Personal Porter?

Thomson trip managers have access to an extensive database of hand-picked personal porters. Once you’ve booked your trek, simply talk to them and ask about working with one!