I had originally tried posting in the review section on Tripadvisor - but was unable to do so since this I was reviewing a multi-day trip. I know when I was planning my trip I relied on the reviews of tour companies by fellow travelers which helped in making travel decisions. Hope this review helps!
This July 2013 my husband and I travelled to Tanzania for a three week vacation. Our holiday included climbing Kilimanjaro, a safari in the Serengeti and surrounding parks, and relaxing on Zanzibar. In this review, I plan to comment on Tro-Peaks Adventures and East African Tours and Safaris; the company we used for climbing Kilimanjaro. My husband and I started our research the previous October when we decided we wanted to travel to Tanzania. We found the number of options overwhelming when trying to choose a trekking company. I then found out that a co-worker of mine had climbed Kilimanjaro the previous summer using the company, Tro-Peaks. My co-worker had also been recommended this company by a friend.
What appealed to me about this company was that it was a small Tanzanian company owned by two Tanzanians who are actual guides on the mountain. (However, I am not sure how much guiding they get to do anymore since they are running the business.) I feel it is important to support the local companies and keep money in the country when travelling as opposed to using larger International (American, European, Australian, etc.) companies where much of the money leaves the country and does not go to the guides and porters who are the most important part of your hike!
I started to research the company and enter into conversation (email) with the owner, Daniel Ngowi. Their website was simple and did not include prices. However, I was able to easily gain this information through email. After numerous emails, questions, and research over a couple months, we had decided that the best route would be the 8 day Lemosho route (in order to maximize our acclimatization). The July 2013 price was 1710 USD inclusive of everything except personal gear and sleeping bag/mat. It even included the hotel nights before and after the hike in Moshi. I was also quite happy about the price given that many other American or British companies I had looked into were much more expensive charging hundreds if not thousands of dollars more for the same hike.
During this research and emailing period, I found that there was not much information or other reviews on this company as they are smaller and based in Tanzania. However, based on the few reviews I found online- all of which were positive, the positive review from my co-worker, and the communication with the owner, I was confident in deciding to choose this company for our trek.
We arrived in Tanzania and were picked up from the airport by Daniel and a driver. We were taken back to the hotel where we had a couple hours to settle in before meeting up with Daniel and our guide for our hike. At this meeting Daniel introduced us to Ramson, our guide. We went over details of the hike, any last minute questions and gear that we needed to rent. (We needed sleeping bags/mats). After the meeting, Ramson even went back to our room to go through all of our clothes and gear, checking to make sure we had brought the proper items. (This step made me feel more confident as I was getting nervous about the hike and altitude!)
On the day we started the hike we were met with a mini bus that had our 7 porters, 1 cook, head guide, and assistant guide. Ten people employed for a two person 8 day trek! Everything went smoothly as we travelled to the park, and then to the gate (where we had to sign in) and then the start point of our trek where we would be left for eight days to get to the top of Kilimanjaro and back down via the Lemosho route.
Over the eight days our guides were extremely friendly, professional and knowledgeable. I had decided early on that my best bet for reaching the top would be to listen to everything the guides told us to do – and I believe this definitely helped us reach our goal. They set a VERY slow (‘pole pole’) pace which I was prepared for due to the significant amount of reading I had done on climbing Kilimanjaro. (My husband and I are avid hikers and are used to a much faster pace- however not at altitude). Our guides had also told us to tell them everything about how we were feeling so they could adjust and plan as needed. On the first day I was experiencing a headache from the altitude and my guide recommended I start taking the Diamox I had along. (Be careful and listen to your guides and body – AMS is not something to take lightly!) Fortunately, due to a slow pace, lots of water, proper rest, and Diamox I never progressed beyond having a headache and some slight nausea which are very common at altitude. And we were able to reach the summit without issue as planned!
We were also very impressed with the food on the trip. We had requested a gluten free diet (since I am sensitive) and our cook had no problem with this. Every meal from breakfast to dinner we had tasty and highly nutritious meals consisting of mainly vegetables, fruits, potatoes, rice, beans, eggs and meat (beef, chicken, fish). We definitely never went hungry!
In summary, I will list some of the pros and cons (since nothing is ever perfect!) of booking with this company:
Cons: Due to language differences it would sometimes take a couple emails or asking a question slightly differently to get the proper clarification. The vehicle driving us to the start of the hike looked a little rough – but got the job done! We did not have some of the camping “luxuries” that other groups had: chemical toilets and washing bowl stands. However I am sure these could be brought for the added cost of the rental and porter to carry it. The zipper on the tent started to go after a couple days. However this was due to immense amount of dust on the mountain. We found the zippers on our own gear started to get stuck as well!
Pros: Good consistent communication with the owner of the company throughout all phases of planning and preparing for the hike. Everything that was promised and included in the contract was followed through with for our hike. The food was nutritious and plentiful and met our gluten free requirement. We were very impressed with the expertise and knowledge our guide and assistant guide which resulted in us safely reaching Uhuru Peak!
All in all, based on my experience from the researching, planning, and booking to the preparation and actual climbing of the mountain, I would highly recommend the company Tro-Peaks Adventures and East African Tours and Safaris. We had such a great time and a very positive and rewarding experience climbing Kilimanjaro with Tro-Peaks!