My family and I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in February 2015. It was the most challenging undertaking of my middle-aged life! It was such an amazing experience I climbed it again in 2016 with some girlfriends to honor the hard work of women. Both climbs were life-altering experiences; they brought out the best in me and helped me realize just how mentally and physically strong I am.

The porters and the guides are the main reason for a climber’s success. They work together as a team looking after each client. My personal porter, Mathew, was with me on both climbs. He was an older man in his 50’s and of small build. He continues to climb the mountain several times a year because it is the only income for his family of five children and his wife. Always smiling, and always by my side, he was with me every step of the way. Imagine carrying up to sixty pounds of gear forty miles around a mountain up to 19,341 feet several times a year! Porters are truly remarkable and the hardest working people I have had the pleasure of meeting.

Porters earn around $7 (USD) per day, if working for a reputable outfitter such as Thomson. With Thomson Trekking, they are provided with good shelter and healthy meals. This is why it is so important to climb with Thomson because you know your porters are some of the best paid and well-treated porters on Mt. Kilimanjaro. The cheaper your climb is and going with a cheaper operator, the less paid and fewer equipment for the porters, as this is how climbing operators save costs! With the cheaper operators porters solely rely on client tips for their pay! You will see porters climbing in ragged clothes and shoes with sixty pounds of gear and supplies on their head and back. You learn how lucky porters are to work for Thomson. After you set out in the morning they pack up your tent and all the other equipment, they race past you to set everything up again at the next camp (sometimes for lunch also), they help the cook, do the dishes, serve your dinner, carry all the water from the nearest stream and boil it so you have safe drinking water and warm wash. Porters are the bread and butter of the operation.

So, thank you to all the porters and guides, many who are now my friends, who helped me climb two climbs up the Queen of Mountains, Mt. Kilimanjaro!  A special shout out to Mathew, David, Decklan, Tumaini, Clet, August, Emmanuel, and Isaak. The head guides are the best of the best who started off as porters and through hard work and dedication have been promoted to guides. They receive special safety and first aid training and not only are they our guides to get us safely up the mountain but they also serve as mentors to the porters. Our guides Onest Mtui, Glory Thobias (one of the few female guides), and David Nyanghura are some of the world class guides who have worked for Thomson for years and set the bar for every other guide on the mountain. Thomson hires the best of the best and have a loyal crew to ensure your safety first, and a successful, fun and rewarding climb.

– Laurel Werner

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