Several days into our Kili trek, after we’d gotten to know our guides a bit, our Head Guide, Washingtone, asked me, “Why is it that you chose Chief’s Tours for your trek?”
It was a good question. There are dozens, if not hundreds of tour operators guiding treks on Kilimanjaro, and Chief’s Tours was far from the most immediately visible on the internet.
When we were trying to research and make a decision it was awfully difficult to distinguish any one company from another. So, we decided to set a criterion to make our decision easier.
We decided that we did not want our money going to a glitzy American company, where some guys in Chicago or Los Angeles skim their portion off the top, depriving the locals of the benefit of those Dollars. We wanted our money to go directly to the local guys – the small guys – Tanzanians.
Once we decided that, the choice was easier, but there was still a ton of companies to sort through.
Eventually, we stumbled upon an Indian travel agency called Alien Adventures that had universally good ratings on TripAdvisor. Alien Adventures was SUPER helpful in answering our questions and helping us to sort out routes and tour operators.
Alien Adventures finally recommended either Chief’s Tours or Popote African Adventures and both had universally positive ratings on TripAdvisor so we chose what seemed like the smaller of the two – Chief’s Tours.
And it was a PERFECT choice! We were simply stunned by the experience and knowledge and patience of all of the staff – but especially the Head Guide for our trek!
Washingtone is obviously a fixture on this mountain. This was his 190th trip up Kilimanjaro (not counting hundreds of other tours and treks over the last 15 years.) The guides knew everything about everything on the mountain and they were an invaluable help every step of the way!
Guides and porters from other companies that we met on the trail often greeted Washingtone with what seemed like deference or even reverence!
A lot of the guide books say that you can’t make a successful trek without a good guide – and here it was absolutely literally true! Chief’s Tours made the Trek and the post-trek safari (and the whole vacation) spectacular in every way. We do not have enough superlatives to heap upon them.
When our Head Guide asked why we chose Chief’s Tours from the multitude of tour operators and I told him that it was largely so that a smaller local group would get the benefit of our spending money instead of a larger, glossier American tour firm he seemed so surprised and grateful.
It was so endearing to know that we’d made a good choice and that our reasoning behind our choice was received with such gratitude.
Tanzania has something pretty amazing – besides the coffee plantations, fields of tea, beautiful trees, amazing wildlife, and hospitable people: they happen to have the highest peak in Africa. Many people around the world are willing to pay top dollar to experience all that Kilimanjaro and Tanzania have to offer.
The Roaming Parkers highly recommend that if you want to do a climb or a safari or a vacation in Eastern Africa, let your USD go to the smaller guys and the local guys and help them develop their economy, rather than helping some Americans from NY or Chicago line their pockets.