As part of my week profiling scams on Mount Kilimanjaro, this is perhaps one of the worst scams. Like I mentioned in my last post, many porters rely on the tip as their many source of money, from their week of lugging gear up and down Kilimanjaro.
Most people tip the porters at the end of the trip – on the last day at the exit, or at the last camp, usually Mweka Camp if you on the Machame route, or at Mandara Hut.
Often tourists feel uncomfortable with tipping the porters directly, this is for a number of reasons.
1. Most of the porters speak Swahili. Most of the climbers speak English. It’s hard to tip without being able to communicate directly.
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2. There is usually a huge number of porters and a small group of climbers. Walking into a big group with a bunch of money can be intimidating for some people.
3. Tipping in a foreign country, heavily traveled by tourists, can be akward for anyone. You think, am I tipping enough? Will they be upset?
4. You have grown comfortable with the guide, who said he will take care of the tip for you.
All of thes listed are reasons why people choose not to tip directly and tip the guide instead. You should, however, ALWAYS tip the porters directly. Do not tip the guide, even if you totally trust him.
The reason is, in the past, the guides have know to skim a little of the tip from each person. If the guide took $5 from each person, he could have an extra could hundred dollars. While $5 is not much, it’s the principal of it – and it’s a lot of money to the porters. Imagine, if someone scammed you $100 in America – it’s not that much, but it still takes a hit on your weekly budget.
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t happen to everybody. It’s just something you should know on the mountain. Tip your porters, not your guides.