There is a certain weight limit for porters going up the mountain. In order to pass through the gate, they must weigh the bags being carried up the mountain. This ensures that the tourists see the porters are getting treated fairly, with companies not putting way too much weight on the them – and not skimping on their labor costs.
But for those of you savy enough, on both the Marangu and the Machame route, within a few miles of the trailhead, you can actually sometimes see porters taking off their gear, giving it to one of the other porters, and then heads off into the woods. They follow a trail that heads outside the national park.
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The scam is this. A porter poses as part of the group, saying he is going to carry the gear up the mountain. After they get through the gates, one of the porters takes the other guys weight, basically doubling the amount he is going to carry. This is done because guides (the real problem on Kilimanjaro) are trying to make their porters carry more than the maximum weight, giving them extra money that the companies gave them. A guide could say he employed 15 porters, when in fact, he only employed 10 porters, and he kept the difference on the wages.
Usually this is only done by budget companies and bad unethical guides on the mountains.
Just remember, always count your porters before the climb and afterwards. It might save you some extra tip money in the end.