How Much Does It Cost To Climb Kilimanjaro (on a tight budget)?

Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak (5895m) and the highest free-standing mountain in the world (one of the seven summits no less)! But how much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro? Planning to take on ‘Kili,’ is a huge highlight of any trip to East Africa, but naturally, it doesn’t come so cheap.

So now, I’m going to dispel a few of the myths about the price of climbing Kilimanjaro and give you all the lo-down on how much it costs to climb Kilimanjaro on a tight budget as I did. So let’s get to it.

NOTE: If you want to read my beginner’s guide to climbing Kilimanjaro, you can read that HERE.

How much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro on a budget? $1200USD.

The CHEAPEST POSSIBLE way to climb Kilimanjaro still involves a guide, a porter and a chef. Crazy but true. If you cut every corner, you can do it for about $1200USD in 4 nights and 5 days. 10 years ago, when I did, it was marginally cheaper at about $1000 USD.

Naturally, if you want to pay more your tent will be higher quality, the food a bit nicer but it’s all unnecessary to be honest, the $1000 used to get you to the top just fine. Now, 2018, you’re looking at $1500 for a super budget option, with no accomodation on either side, low quality tents etc. It’ll suffice, but it may not be comfortable!

Climbing Kilimanjaro

The cheapest way to climb Kilimanjaro is as follows:

Don’t arrange anything beforehand.

I’ll repeat that guys. Do not arrange anything before you arrive in Moshi, if you’re looking to cut every financial corner that is.

Do it all when you get there. That is the cheapest way to arrange it. I know it sounds scary because you want to have everything locked in. But if you’re running out of money, this is the way. And don’t worry about not being able to find an expedition that can fit you in. THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF THEM! You could arrive at 10 pm in the evening and STILL have time to organize it and set off the next day so have faith.

Step by Step

Step 1. Get to Moshi by bus.

  • Get to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. I arrived by land from Malawi but many international airlines fly here. You can then fly to Moshi or Arusha, the towns at the foot of the mountain. BUT you’re on a budget. So don’t fly!
  • Take a bus from Ubungo bus station. Dar Es Salaam to Moshi. The bus costs around $5-$15 depending on the bus quality and takes 8-12 hours. Buy the ticket the day before. And get the station early, before sunrise.
  • Arrive in Moshi around 4pm. Find your accommodation. I recommend the A&A guesthouse, $5 private bathroom, views of the mountain, cracking! Check-in.

Step 2. Walk around Moshi. Shop around.

  • The very same evening, ignore all the touts hustling you for their business and walk directly into one of the (literally) hundreds of tour operators who offer climbs. SHOP AROUND.
  • At this junction let me explain the routes. There are 6 different routes you can take but realistically everyone takes one of two, the Machame route or the most popular Coca-Cola (Marangu) route. The Coca-Cola route is the easiest route in terms of physical exertion but the Machame route actually has a higher success rate mostly due to the fact that it takes an extra day so you get a further days acclimatization. The Machame route offers much better scenery too and I would definitely recommend taking it.
  • Explain you want to do the Machame (or Coca-Cola depending on your choice) route. The standard Machame route is 4 nights/5 days. Nowadays,for bargain basement equipment, cheapest food available, etc, that cost about $1000 for 5 days. If you want an additional day to acclimatize on the mountain then it costs about $1200.
  • Normally you pay the park fees on the 1st day of the ascent to the park officials. Whereas you pay your tour operator their fee for equipment (normally included), food, tents when you sign up. You can negotiate some free rental stuff with some of the companies too.

Step 3. Climb it in 5 days (if you’re fit enough)

  • If you can handle the 4 NIGHT/5 DAY climb, that’s cheaper. So if your budget is tight, get fit!
  • If you sign up for 6 days, but only need 5, you don’t get a refund. So be aware. The best way is to stay in Moshi for a day or 2. It’s already at 800m altitude. USE THAT. Then sign up for the 5 day climb.

Step 4. Budget for tips.

  • Tips are obligatory and expected. Budget AT LEAST $250 for tips. Expect a bare minimum of $15 per team member per day. That’s $75 per person and you’ll have a minimum of 3 people in your group. It’s the law.

Step 5. Climb and don’t fail

  • Your budget is all you have to pay. It includes porters (compulsory), chefs (!?), tents, breakfast lunch and dinner each day, water, equipment, park fees, and transport. Everything. So that’s you set.
  • Now climb! And don’t fail. See the final step.


  • I understand what it is to be broke. I was raised in single-parent grew up on welfare in Ireland. However, poverty in Tanzania is on a whole other level. Remember that. So, try to ensure you go with an operator who pays their staff accordingly. And that it allows them proper gear to stay safe and warm. If it comes down to an additional $100 or $200 to ensure that, it’s worth it. Don’t compromise your ethics for $100. Same goes for tips. These guys are working hard. If you can’t afford tips, you can’t afford the climb.
  • Finally, “pay cheap, pay twice”. That means if you cut corners, dubious ethics, bad equipment, all this could lead to you failing. And suddenly your super cheap “$900 climb” because $900 the first (Failed) attempt, and then a sensible $1500-$2500 the second time.

Budget, Mid-range or Luxury? The Difference

So that’s it guys, you now know how much it costs to climb Kilimanjaro! It cost me around $1000 on a super tight budget over 10 years ago. Nowadays though, in 2022 and beyond, it’s like this:

Dubious ethics: $800-$1200 (steer clear, however tempting it is).

Bargain basement: $1200-1900 (ask questions, get the ethics right, then go ahead, just don’t expect comfort!)

Mid-range: $2k to $3500 (the sweet spot)

Luxury: $4k+ (hot showers, toilets carried up the mountain, champagne when you summit!)

REMEMBER: Just remember, if budget is your primary concern, and you’d prefer to save money and suffer a little more, then don’t organise it online. Come to Moshi and sort it out here.

Happy travels! Any other questions just email me on johnny ‘at’

Me at the top, sporting Northern Ireland’s flag


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