If you really want to save money when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, book your trip independently upon your arrival. When you fly into Kilimanjaro Airport, find other people to share a taxi with to Moshi. Taxi's cost $60 USD, but a minivan can hold seven people bringing the cost down considerably.
It is best to book with a tour company based out of Moshi rather than Arusha. Moshi is closer to the mountain therefore transfers are cheaper.
If you don't already have a group lined up, try to find other people to climb with. If you have a group of five or more people, you will have more room to negotiate. Don't be afraid to negotiate and ask for a better price. Remember, $630 dollars goes directly to the Tanzanian Government in park fees. So if you are only paying $1000 to climb, the operator is receiving less than $400.
Rates will vary on season. During the high season, you may not have a lot of room to negotiate.
There are several routes that you can climb, but the Machame Route is a great choice. It is considered the most beautiful route and it gives you the added bonus of an extra day of acclimatisation. Adding an extra day to your climb as compared to the more well trodden five-day Marangu Route helps to ensure a better chance of actually summiting. You will also sleep in tents as opposed to cabins giving a more expedition feel.
Be prepared for extremely cold weather on your summit day. Temperatures can drop to -20 Celsius at the summit. Dress in layers and make sure to have warm gloves and hats.
Keep electronics close to your body as the cold weather drains batteries quickly and drink out of bottles with large openings - your water will freeze. Hydration Packs like a Camelback do not work on the mountain because the water in the hose freezes.
If you don't have your own gear, you can borrow from your travel outfitter. We climbed with Kessy Brothers Tours www.kessybrotherstours.co and their guides were professional, safe and friendly. They use local guides, the food was excellent, we had a high ratio of guides per climbers and we were very well taken care of. Highly recommended.
Make sure to tip your guide well. This is how they make the majority of their money and with the amount you have saved by booking independently, you will be able to share that wealth with your hardworking guides and assistants. We tipped $150 each from our group of seven, making the total $1050.00 for several porters, guides and assistants to share. We paid less than $1000 to climb because it was near the end of the season, so climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for less than $1200 total was quite a deal. Each season rates go up dramatically.
Dave's & Deb's travel blog: