Each week, I try to profile another climbing or safari company in Tanzania (despite having my own business too) to show everything Tanzania has to offer. However, given there are many “tour companies” that offer the exact same thing in Tanzania, I always ask the owners what make them unique? Sure – anyone can offer a safari or a climb on Kilimanjaro. With tons of people are looking for pesa (money) all you have to do is rent a vehicle, pay an owner of company to use his or her permit, and then get someone to drive to the National Parks. To me, if you don’t offer anything unique compared to the rest of the crowd, unless you have a lot of money, you will have a short time in business. But again, I could be wrong.
Here is the personal response from Jan Moshi, the Director of Sales & Marketing of Kili Treks & Safaris, on why her company is unique. Kili Treks is based in Tanzania.
“While we offer the standard mountain, safari and Zanzibar packages, the directors, myself and Alex are completely hands on, which gives us a degree of flexibility to provide as much of a personal service to our clients as is humanely possible. There is no agent, no ‘middle man’ and we oversee everything from our Moshi based office.
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Alex (Tanzanian) is a licensed safari driver and a Kilimanjaro TANAPA guide trainer with extensive East African mountain experience. Part of his role is on-the-job training for the Kilitreks mountain and safari teams, which means he may be accompanying the clients.
I (British) battle away on the web site and answer the emails. My job is to untangle the email requests to ensure that what has been requested is what we can provide at a reasonable price and I make sure they get enough information to prepare themselves. Then I hand over to Alex and his teams for the practical stuff. Kilimanjaro climbing has become more expensive in recent times due to the increase in National Park fees. We are keeping our prices in the lower regions for 2007 to encourage all kinds of climbers to fulfill their dream (or madness). For this reason we have set departure dates for Marangu, Rongai and Machame routes with minimum group numbers (6 climbers). This means we can keep the prices reasonable. We also have a price for ‘private’ bookings which can start on any date and any route.
We like to encourage travellers to try different activities off the beaten track when they visit Tanzania. Not so many are brave enough. We offer a 3 day bush safari into the Massai Steppe to climb Lendenia mountain (in Simanjiro – the green bit in the middle of travel guide maps which is devoid of any location details). Climbing usually involves a Massai morani armed with a panga to cut a path to the top. There are no tourists, just Massai going about their business, donkeys, cows and Chagga merchants. What we spend goes directly to the community (puncture repairs included). The travelling and accommodation options are very basic but it is just a wonderful experience. We are still a small company developing our client base, but I think we do a good job.”
Now that I look at Jan’s response, I think she has really brought forward an issue that most people don’t do. That’s REALLY getting off the beaten path and trying to do something new. Everybody wants to climb Kilimanjaro and go to the Serengeti, but will 300,000+ tourists coming to Tanzania each year, it’s becoming increasingly hard to find an authentic experience. 95 percent of the people do the SAME thing. However, like Jan mentioned about climbing the Lendenia mountain with a Masai, that’s probably an amazing experience, and pretty much as authentic as you can get. I personally wouldn’t use Kili Treks & Safaris for climbing Kilimanjaro, until I really knew the guide and his experience, but I would probably use them for a safari in the bush – and definitely check out their off the beaten path tours. Good luck Jan!