I must have studied 15 different trekking companies while doing the research for my trip to the roof of Africa. This first blush was primarily for me to understand my points of decision and important criteria. All of it was done one year in advance but I reckoned careful study would only enable our chances. I looked at all the routes, weather seasons, climbing time vs. success rate, if they had an outhouse…the whole lot. Then distilled my information down to these four key factors…
Acclimatization Time — I knew how important this was as most people that fail climb too fast. I sought a 9 day climb. I wasn’t going all that way to turn back.
Reputation — I found many excellent companies but not all had a 9 day climb or camping on the crater.
Safety — In addition to the normal equipment, I wanted someone with their own evacuation protocol. I was taking my son…you get the point.
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Camping on the Crater — I HAD to find out what an overnight at 18,300 ft was like, plus I wanted to climb the Western Breach. At the time, it was one of the few ways to get to the crater. The Lemosho Glades/WB route also was all daylight climbing with summit morning being just one hour to the top, and then down…I didn’t fancy the night slog from Barafu.
Tusker Trail & Safari had many routes and climbing days to chose from and were the only company that met all my criteria so the decision was quite simple.
But there is much, much more. I called and spoke with Andrew Springsteel (he still works for Tusker) who was extremely helpful and my trip information arrived promptly. I was given references and spoke with two clients who had been on one of Tuskers trips, which were very helpful. I thanked them both upon our return.
All our travel and accommodations unfolded without issue. The driver was standing at the airport waiting for us. The Keys Hotel in Moshi was very nice. The guides showed up when expected to go over the trip and safety gear…I liked them straight away. Each night they told us what to wear the next day so we were never over or under dressed. Tusker uses their own porter pool so we saw happy faces and no arguments. We had a dinning tent and our own outhouse. The food was excellent even though we were not always hungry up high. Our guides prepared us well for the Breach climb and from what I saw of the other groups in the camps, we had the class of the mountain supporting us. Both our guides carried an extra bag for any trash they found on the trail…cool stuff.
We did a three-day Safari after the climb that was a great way to relax. Our package wisely included a hut-style room at the airport from 3 pm to 9 pm so we could get re-adjusted, sleep or get cleaned up for the flights home! I sat in the deck chair by the pool with a cold drink basking in the African sun, gazing at Kilimanjaro 30 miles away, feeling every bit the satisfied man.
Tusker Trail & Safari went beyond my expectation and I received a well-organized, safe and successful trip of a lifetime in the bargain!
(With the Western Breach route now closed, Tusker still gets clients to Crater Camp in the daylight using the Barafu route.)