The Poor Porter

It’s kind of a tough mental debate when you are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. You just bought your fancy new $150 jacket, an expensive sleeping bag, and paid a bunch of money to climb the mountain. Here is your porter, carrying your gear to the top of the mountain, for minimal wages. He is usually not dressed in mountain clothes, but more or less just regular cotton clothes, not made for the mountain . Sometimes he might be wearing just sandles and have no jacket.

After your climb, being a thoughtful person, you decide that you want to help out a few of them – and you give them some of your gear, some of your clothes, maybe your jacket, maybe your gloves. You assume that in the future, they will come up the moutain wearing quality clothes and not endure freezing temperatures without the proper equipment. Well, it seems like that would happen, right? Your thinking is, he probabl doesn’t want to freeze his ass off in the future. Now has great gear because of your graciousness.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. There is a huge problem on the mountain with porters taking the gear they have received and selling them in the market, most of the time for just a few dollars. It doesn’t matter if you just gave him great clothes, they have learned to play the sympathy card and they know that the next tourist will do the same thing. And the next tourist, the next tourist, and the next tourist. He would rather keeping looking poor and destitute, to make you feel some extra, some clothes could really help this guy out. But the problem is, it’s kind of scam.




Usually this is only a problem with certain companies, the ones that pay low wages to their porters and don’t require them to dress appropriately. Tell the company you choose to make their porters dress better and be more prepared on the mountain. Many companies will pay lip service but there porters end up showing up with little on their back. Only tourists and their money can make a difference on Kilimanjaro.

If you want to donate clothes, go to the Porters Assistance Project in Moshi. Tell your porters to check out clothes for free there.