We have just returned from our 3 week trip to Tanzania, and are delighted to announce that we made it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro yet again! Our Total Lunar Eclipse 7-Day Machame Route Group Tour was a fantastic event, and while Africa’s highest mountain proved to be even more challenging than I remember, we made it to Uhuru Peak on Monday 28th September 2015 at 06:20am, just in time to watch the sun rise over Africa…
Climbing Kilimanjaro really is an amazing experience, and during our time on the mountain, we made 20 new friends in our Mountain Guides, Chefs and Porters, who did everything they possibly could to make our journey to the Roof of Africa as comfortable as possible.
As members of KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project), we are passionate about the correct treatment of porters and mountain crew, and as such, every Kilimanjaro Expedition booked through Equatours adheres to the strict rules put in place by the KPAP organisation. All our porters receive a fair wage (which increased by 50% in July this year), they are all equipped with adequate clothing for the expedition, and they all receive 2 hot meals per day.
This may sound like basic necessities to you and me, but sadly, many Kilimanjaro porters are treated poorly by unscrupulous companies who are willing to cut every corner to offer international travellers a cheap climb. Some do not receive any wage at all, they rely solely on tips, others hike to 5,000mts with nothing more than rubber beach shoes on their feet, and many get just one meal a day.
As anyone who has climbed Kilimanjaro will know, the porters work tirelessly to ensure we reach Uhuru Peak, and without them, many of us simply wouldn’t make it. They carry our backpacks and loads of up to 20kg, they assemble our tents, they provide us with drinking water, they carry our portable WC, and then they even sing and dance every time we arrive at a new camp to help us celebrate each victory. They really are the unsung heroes of the mountain, and so this year Equatours decided to make a difference.
In our ongoing commitment to the World Travel Market World Responsible Tourism Day and KPAP, we started collecting winter jackets, trousers, hiking boots, scarfs, hats, gloves, mobile telephones, and just about anything else that we thought our porters could use, in the run up to our Total Lunar Eclipse Expedition.
By the time we departed for Kilimanjaro on 21st September, we had over 100kgs of luggage to take with us. Fortunately, KLM were very generous with our baggage allowance, and didn’t charge us for our excess, so we were able to carry everything down to Tanzania, all wrapped up and ready to give at the end of our expedition. Equatours guests Bianca and Kristina kindly donated boots and backpacks too, so that every member of mountain crew would receive at least one gift.
At the end of our climb, we made our way to the Mweka Gate for one final lunch (party!) with our crew and handed over the gifts along with their well-deserved tips and a couple of crates of Kilimanjaro Beer.
The response we received from the guys was amazing, but I won’t try to put it into words, here are the pictures for you to see for yourself…
All of the above was made possible thanks to our long-term partners in Tanzania, Nicholas and Angel Minja from Big Expeditions. Like us, they understand that if we are all committed to responsible and sustainable tourism, we can make a difference in this world, no matter how small it may seem at the time.
Our 2015 Kilimanjaro Expedition is not one will forget anytime soon, and we look forward to sharing the experience with more Equatours guests in the near future.
In the meantime, we would like to thank everyone who donated to our fantastic Kilimanjaro Crew. On their behalf – ASANTE SANA!
Happy Travels, Wendy & Ingo