KiliGATE is the only responsible tour booking platform for the Kilimanjaro area—full stop. The company has been founded as a social enterprise because there simply is no other credible platform for Kilimanjaro tours, and because we see a compelling need to create more transparency in order to sustainably promote ethical climbs and responsible tourism in the area. Read the founder’s story here.
KiliGATE is committed to responsible tourism. In the context of Kilimanjaro, this first and foremost means fair porter treatment. Porters are the ones who make Kilimanjaro tours possible for the vast majority of climbers, and who do all the heavy lifting. Sadly, our summit success often comes at the cost of the very people who help us reach our mountaintop. This need not be the case. That’s why we’re creating KiliGATE—to create transparency and make it easy for you to book an ethical climb with a responsible tour operator.
Almost all tour companies and booking platforms claim that they are committed to responsible tourism, though only a minority actually prove this by their actions. Who can you trust? Without local monitoring, responsible tourism claims are almost always no more than lip service and misleading marketing. There is only one organization that monitors Kilimanjaro porter treatment practices locally—the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), a Tanzanian non-profit organization initiated by the International Mountain Explorers Connection (IMEC).
To ensure that we can honour our responsibility commitment to you, we only accept companies who are members of IMEC’s and KPAP’s Partner for Responsible Travel Program to promote their Kilimanjaro tours on KiliGATE. We are proud to be the only booking platform collaborating with and endorsed by KPAP.
We also allow our KPAP Partner operators to promote their other non-Kilimanjaro tours on KiliGATE, knowing that they are committed to responsible tourism. As we expand our geographic reach, we will work with more local NGOs and certification agencies to verify the responsible and sustainable tourism practices of our partner operators in the context of their specific activities and destinations. For example, as of launch, we are already partnering with Travelife and Responsible Tourism Tanzania.
We only partner with verified and responsible tour operators. Currently, for Kilimanjaro, there is no organization that monitors or certifies the quality of operators from a tourist point of view (such as experience of the guides, quality of equipment they provide to you, and so forth).
When other platforms advertise that they only work with verified companies or guides for Kilimanjaro, this may mean a combination of the following:
- They have checked the identity of their partner companies or guides.
- The companies they promote are licensed as Tour Operators by the Tanzania Tourist Agents Licensing Authority (TALA).
NB: In order to obtain the TALA license, Tour Operators need to pay an annual licensing fee of US$ 2,000 and own a minimum of three (3) vehicles. As these requirements are independent of the size of the tour operator, they favor larger companies and make it difficult for independent guides to operate legally.
- The guides they promote are licensed by the Kilimanjaro National Park.
We consider these as absolute minimum criteria, similar to you needing a valid passport and visa in order to enter Tanzania, but not as any kind of quality stamp. To start with, we believe that our responsible partner companies who offer ethical climbs are also more likely to offer higher quality standards for their clients than companies who do not allow KPAP to monitor their porter treatment practices. However, this is only an assumption that we cannot guarantee.
In order to measure the actual performance of our partners, we have designed a proprietary rating and review mechanism specific for Kilimanjaro and other tours that we promote. This will reflect both your direct feedback, as well as responsibility benchmarks. For example, we will cooperate with KPAP to also reflect their porter treatment scorecard data. Over time, as more and more tourists provide feedback of their tour experience, we believe that our detailed and balanced ratings and reviews will become the best available tool for you to compare and identify the best guides and tour operators.
We work with local partners in order to sustainably create positive social impact. Our local partners help us understand and monitor local realities, and we help them market their responsible tourism practices to the world. Only through the close synergistic partnership between local insiders and our international reach, we believe that we will be able to enact transformative change to promote sustainable local development.
Amongst our local partners, we count both non-profit organizations and tour operator partners:
- Non-profit organizations: As of launch, we are partnering with the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP) and Responsible Tourism Tanzania. We will grow our partner network as we expand our destination and activity offering.
- Local tour operators: We are proactively collaborating with responsible local tour operators. As of launch, many local KPAP Partners are already promoting their tours on KiliGATE. It is important for us to be in ongoing dialogue with our tour operator partners in order to develop an optimal solution that makes the booking process easy and efficient for you.
While we emphasize and prioritize our local partnerships, and we believe that KiliGATE will be of bigger relative value for our local responsible partners than international agencies, we do not make KiliGATE exclusive for local tour operators. Our mission first and foremost is to promote responsible tourism, and we believe that both local companies and international agencies can help achieve our mission.
The local guide theme has become very popular. Contracting directly with a local guide is often portrayed as synonymous with responsible tourism: Promote locals, get rid of intermediaries, cut costs—this sounds intuitive. In the context of Kilimanjaro, unfortunately, this concept is dangerous and highly misleading.
- By local regulations, only companies legally registered in Tanzania are allowed to operate in the Kilimanjaro National Park. All international agencies sub-contract with local outfitters. Hence, by default, all Kilimanjaro tours promote local companies. And it has been predominantly international-owned companies who have been creating awareness of the porter treatment situation, driving positive change and leading the industry to upgrade its practices.
- It is predominantly local guides who do not adhere to fair porter treatment standards. Local guides may not be associated with a legally licensed company and climb Kilimanjaro by purchasing a “voucher” from a licensed company. This is an illegal practice that can happen on Kilimanjaro.
- While it is true that contracting directly with local outfitters cuts costs, it doesn’t mean that all local outfitters are responsible operators. Only about 10% of local outfitters are KPAP Partners. KPAP has no registration or monitoring fee, and all licensed companies are invited to join the Partner Program. However, KPAP Partners need to adhere to minimum standards of fair porter treatment. This means that their tour prices will always be higher than companies who do not implement such standards. Those promoting the lowest prices in the market can only do so at the cost of the porters.
- You will not find many local Kilimanjaro guides who speak an international language other than English. Those who do are more likely to find higher paid opportunities elsewhere, for example as safari guides. For safety reasons, climbers who are not confident in English should be accompanied by guides speaking their language. International guides and agencies can fill this gap.
- Outfitting a climb and marketing are two distinct functions, each providing value. International agencies have been instrumental to promote Kilimanjaro as a tourism destination, for example by providing helpful information and clear client communications. They have also been in a better position to organize group climbs, which are often preferred by tourists. This is not to say that local companies cannot fulfill this function, and certainly the trend towards direct contracting with local providers is positive in many ways. However, portraying international agencies as intermediaries that only increase costs is a misleading oversimplification.
Having said that, yes, there are many local guides and outfitters who offer ethical climbs and partner with KPAP. You will find almost all of them already represented on KiliGATE.
We strive to increase market transparency and provide you and our partners full transparency about all our actions. We fully disclose to you who we are, who we partner with, how we make money, what we currently are able to do and what we strive to achieve in future.
If you do not find the information you’re looking for on KiliGATE, or if in doubt about any of our claims, please contact us. We value your feedback and will do our utmost to answer all your questions or rectify any shortcomings. Thank you for helping us achieve our mission and being part of our success story.
All responsible tour operators are invited to promote their tours on KiliGATE for free. Contrary to many other platforms, we do not charge registration or listing fees. In no case will we demand or accept any payments that would influence our tour listings. Thereby, we safeguard our neutrality so that we can propose to you the tours that best meet your requirements.
We believe that the ranking of tours and operators as we show them to you shall only be based on one criteria—actual performance of tours and operators that meet your search criteria. That’s why we have designed a rating and review mechanism specific for Kilimanjaro and other tours that we promote. Over time, we strive to build ever more helpful rating and comparison features, as more and more tourists provide their feedback.
By booking and reviewing your tour via KiliGATE, you can make an important contribution to promote responsible tourism also for future travellers. Thank you for helping us achieve our mission and being part of our success story.
We only allow verified clients to review their actual past tours and operators. This sets us in stark contrast to most other tour booking and comparison platforms. Long before the idea of KiliGATE had emerged, we were frustrated about the level of manipulative, biased and fake reviews especially for Kilimanjaro and other tours in the region.
Have you ever wondered how travel platforms that barely existed few months ago have been able to win thousands of customers and collect countless reviews, all of them highly positive, in such a short time? Have you ever wondered who is writing those reviews? We have, and we want to make a difference. Providing trustworthy reviews of actual tourists to facilitate the comparison of tour operators has been one of our key founding rationales.
We only accept the following review sources:
- To get started, we invite our partners to ask their prior clients to write them a review on KiliGATE. However, we check and verify the identity and client relationship of each reviewer—a time-consuming manual process that many online platforms often replace with fake or unverified reviews.
- Going forward, only clients who booked their tour via KiliGATE will be allowed to rate and review their specific tour operators for their booked tour.
In no case will we publish reviews of tourists if we cannot ascertain their actual client relationship with the reviewed tour operator.
All our partner operators have committed to quote you their best price on KiliGATE. If you find the same tour offered by one of our partner operators cheaper via any other channel or quoted by them directly to you, please let us know immediately. We will make every effort to offer you the same lower price.
KiliGATE is launched by an experienced team of co-founders, each with a strong personal track record, passion for outdoors, travel and social impact.
We combine complementary skills and expertise across the travel and tourism industry, online marketing, start-ups, social impact, Africa, finance and fundraising, business development, IT and website development.
Driven by the same mission, we are committed to enact transformative social impact and promote responsible tourism.