Tipping your porters, guides and camp staff on Kilimanjaro is customary and encouraged but not obligatory, much like tipping for services in the U.S.
We advise bringing cash for tips to Tanzania for several reasons.
Getting the Money to the Right People
We are often asked why we don’t include tips in the overall price of the trip. This is because anything billed for in the U.S. will be taxed in Tanzania, and then 30% of your tip would not reach the people who made your trek possible.
Distributing tips from a pooled fund can be difficult as well, particularly on Kilimanjaro where graft is common. For these reasons, we brought together our staff, the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), and the porters themselves to design a tipping system that ensures your tip goes exactly where it’s intended to go.
Tipping is an expected custom in Tanzania and on Kilimanjaro, and people are used to the system. Many porters would not agree to eliminate tips for higher base wages because they don’t believe they would earn as much.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Do They Earn?
The porters on our treks are among the highest paid on the mountain. They are paid much higher than the KPAP partner average, and the minority of Kilimanjaro operators pay a KPAP compliant wage to begin with. KPAP has called us “the premier standard for ethical treatment of Kilimanjaro porters.” This is before considering tips from our trekkers.
Tipping is not in any way an effort to offset lower porter wages but rather a customary reward for a job well done.
How Much Should I Tip?
We send specific recommendations to guests 30-45 days prior to each trek so we get as accurate a picture of the mountain team as possible. These amounts are determined by the number of trekkers in your group, which affects the amount of porters, guides, cooking staff, etc., and they take into consideration Tanzania’s cultural norms, recommendations from previous trekkers and the guidelines suggested by KPAP. Many of our trekkers are inspired to tip more after seeing the incredible job the porters do.
How Do I Give Tips to My Trekking Team?
We provide tipping envelopes approximately three weeks prior to departure. We recommend filling the tipping envelopes with an amount based upon our guidelines prior to departure. You can then adjust as you see fit prior to the tipping ceremony.
The tipping ceremony is the method our staff, KPAP and the porters themselves designed to deliver tips. On your last day on the mountain, your tips are added together with the other guests’, and the sum is presented to your head guide along with the rest of the trekking team. Your head guide will read the sum aloud to the team and act as a translator if you would like to say thank you in Swahili.
The ceremony ensures transparency and that everyone gets their fair share of the tips. It can also be a lot of fun! It’s a celebratory occasion often filled with singing, dancing, cheering and many thank yous.
What Type of Currency Should I Use?
Please use U.S. dollars of a series date within the past 10 years (2010 or more recent). Bills should be in good condition, free of tears, marks and folds.
What About Tipping My Personal Porter?
Your personal porter’s tip should be given directly rather than included in the camp porters’ envelope.
What If I Want to Do More?
Here’s a secret many trekkers don’t realize – you will become very fond of your team during your trek!
If you want to go beyond tipping, as many of our guests do, here are some ideas:
- Donate Gear
Thousands of porters work on Kilimanjaro, and many could use better or replacement equipment after the wear and tear of dozens if not hundreds of treks. If you won’t use a piece of equipment after your trek, don’t want to travel back with it or would simply like to make a kind gesture, you might consider leaving some of your equipment as a donation to others. For fairness, donated equipment is distributed via a lottery system.
- Donate Gear
- Hire a Personal Porter
The personal porter position is an opportunity to make extra money and is highly desired among the porter crew.
- Hire a Personal Porter
- Encourage Others to Trek
Tourism is incredibly valuable to Tanzania’s people, so please tell your friends about the experience!