Porters are the backbone of any Kilimanjaro climb. Without them, the majority of us tourists would never be able to summit. While we like to celebrate our summit achievements, it’s really the porters who make it all possible for us and do the heavy lifting. They rush up the mountain carrying our personal stuff, tents, food, and communal equipment, all on top of their own sparse necessities. Instead of resting when they finally arrive at camp, they set up our tents, fetch water, and prepare food so that everything is ready by the time their clients arrive.
Good news first—reaching the top of Africa is relatively easy. You will have porters carrying all your stuff (except your daypack, but you could even pay a small extra fee to have that carried as well), setting up your tent, fetching and boiling water, even carrying and cleaning a portable toilet. You will have a cook and waiter serving you breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. You will have a lead guide and at least one assistant guide to lead you up the mountain, watch out for any AMS symptoms and take care of you in case of any emergencies. You may have people bring you hot water to wash your face in the morning and evening. I’ve even read about hikers literally being carried up to the top by their guides because they couldn’t have made it on their own. I don’t think this is good practice, neither on the part of the hiker (doesn’t it feel like cheating?) nor on the part of the guide (wouldn’t it be better to send their client down the mountain as quickly as possible if they can’t handle it anymore?), but it seems to happen nevertheless. The point being, hiking Kilimanjaro is not comparable to real trekking where you actually have to carry all your stuff and take care of yourself.
Choose a responsible Kilimanjaro tour operator.
Here are my favorite Kilimanjaro videos – informative and helpful. There still seems to be a big blank in the world of commercial movie production. I see great potential for a blockbuster that enlightens everyone about Kilimanjaro in a both entertaining and educational way – action, romance, drama, comedy, documentary… all in one. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, there is no such movie yet. My wake-up call to all the movie producers – please go for it!