Ironman (and Ironwoman!) climbs & Hybrid treks

For those who want to make climbing Kilimanjaro even more of a challenge


Ironman climbs

Hybrid treks

For most people, climbing Kilimanjaro is enough of a challenge.

However, there are those who want to make it even harder.

Who don’t want to be surrounded by an entire team of porters, cooks and guides for their climb, but instead want to climb with as small a crew as possible.

In other words , they want a minimally supported trek; one where, as far as possible, they do everything for themselves.

Now if you talk to most other companies, they’ll tell you that this can’t be done. They will explain to you that you have to have a team of cooks and porters with you if you’re going to tackle Africa’s Highest Mountain.

They tell you this, because they simply don’t know that you are allowed to climb without porters or cooks. (Either that, or they are too lazy to organise anything other than the same standard, ‘regulation’ trek that they have always organised!)

Well, we’re here to tell you, once and for all, the truth:

If you want to climb without porters and cooks, you can!

And we at Kilimanjaro Experts are the people to help you climb in this way.

Our Ironman & Ironwoman climbs: Kilimanjaro’s ultimate test

We offer our climbers the option of an ‘Ironman’ climb. One where you get to trek, from entrance gate to summit and all the way down again, with just a guide.

No porters.

No cooks.

Just you, and two guides – the minimum amount of crew that you’re allowed to take.

Does that sound too hardcore? Well, the best thing is, we also offer a ‘hybrid’ service, where you decide how big or small your crew is, and how much help we provide.

Can anybody book an Ironman trek?

The short answer is: no. Because an Ironman trek is not to be underestimated.

You need to carry all your own kit, tents and food, for the entire duration of the trek. This places a tremendous amount of stress on the body. That stress is far more than if you were part of a regular trek.

Remember, your body is already undergoing a considerable amount of strain just by being at high altitude.

Carrying your own luggage, too, only adds to this.

As well as the extra pressure on your body caused by carrying all your own luggage, there is a lot of extra work involved at the end of each day’s trek too:

  • At the end of each day’s walking, you need to put up your own tent. There are no porters to help you.
  • You need to fetch water for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Again, there will be no porters to help you.
  • You will be responsible for preparing your own meals each day.
  • You will need to clean the cutlery, crockery, pots and pans each day.
  • In the morning, after breakfast, you need to help break camp, pack everything, including litter, and make sure the campsite is spotless for those coming after you.
  • You will carry your own clothing, equipment, camping gear, cooking gear and water. Your guides are responsible for carrying his stuff, but you will need to carry yours.

For this reason, we recommend an Ironman trek only for seasoned, experienced trekkers. You also need to have a lot of experience of surviving at high altitude.


Instead, maybe look at our Hybrid Climb option below.

So what are the details of an Ironman climb?

The first thing to say is that these Ironman treks are legal. No rules are being broken by us organising them, and the authorities have given us their blessing to arrange them.

The second thing to say is that the park authorities, KINAPA, insist that all treks are led by a minimum of two guides. They also demand that there must one guide for every two trekkers on every trek.

So your trek must always have at least one guide on it.

But as for the rest of the crew – well, that’s up to you!

In order to keep the weight down, we equip Ironman treks with dehydrated food. This also means, of course, that you don’t need a cook. After all, you don’t really need an expert chef if you’re just adding hot water to desiccated meals.

As for porters, well it’s possible to climb without them. And on an Ironman climb, that is exactly what you’ll have: none.

But if you are worried that climbing up to 5895m while carrying around 15kg, well then hiring a porter or two to help share the load is a good idea.

We discuss these sort of details during the booking process, so it’s not something you need to worry about too much now.

How expensive is an Ironman trek on Kilimanjaro?

We should point out here that if you want to take an Ironman trek because you want to save money, then this could well be a false economy.

Yes, an Ironman trek is cheaper than a regular one, because you don’t have to pay the wages of a large crew.

But it might not be as much of a saving as you may think, because, to put it bluntly, the wages of porters are never a big part of a trek cost anyway. Even though we are partners of KPAP, and thus pay some of the best wages around, the salaries of the porters are not a significant cost. This is particularly true when compared to the park fees, for example, which you have to pay whether you are on a regular trek or an Ironman one.

Transport to and from the mountain, food, gas, the wages of the guides that accompany you, and a sum to cover administration costs/insurance etc all add to the costs too.

So in summary: an Ironman trek is cheaper than a regular, standard trek. But do not choose an Ironman trek primarily for financial reasons.

To be able to provide you with an exact quote for your trek, you need to get in touch with us. But to give you an idea: a 6-day Ironman Machame trek for two people is currently  US$1632 per person.

What is included on an Ironman trek – and what isn’t?

Obviously if we’re not going to use porters, so our service on Kilimanjaro will, of course, be more limited.

We won’t be able to provide a mess tent for dinner, for example. Instead you’ll have to eat in your tent or perched on a nearby rock.

You will have to use the public toilet facilities. We will not be packing a private toilet tent for you to use, unless you request one (US$100).

Nor will be able to provide the trek with fresh food and ingredients. As we mention above, we instead provide our Ironman treks with dried food that you have to carry.

We do provide transport to and from the mountain at the start end of your trek.

We do, as always, furnish each of our treks with oxygen and a full medical kit for the guide to carry.

You will still receive a certificate if you get to Kilimanjaro’s Crater Rim.

Airport transfers (US$50 each way per vehicle) and accommodation in Arusha for before and after the trek (starting at US$41 per person in a twin-double) are not included. But they can be added to your package – with costs as indicated.

A copy of the guide book is not included – but can be added for US$30.

Our Hybrid treks: For those who want something slightly less hardcore but still want the challenge

If all of the above sounds a bit too, well, challenging, then there is the option of taking what we call a ‘Hybrid’ trek.

Essentially, this is kind of a mixture of an Ironman trek, and one of our ‘full-service’ regular treks.

You get to choose exactly what is on your trek…and what isn’t

On these treks, you get to choose exactly what you would like on your trek.

For example, most people would still like us to arrange airport transfers for them, and to arrange their accommodation in Arusha for before/after the trek too.

They might also, sensibly, prefer to have fresh food on the trek, rather than surviving on dried food.

However, they may think that a private toilet, and a mess tent with tables and chairs, are unnecessary extras.

And they would also like the challenge of carrying their own luggage.

Well, the good news is, we can tailor your trek to your precise specifications. And will alter the price of the trek accordingly.

So how much will a Hybrid trek cost?

It’s impossible to give you an exact price for one of these treks, of course, as it all depends on exactly what you want included.

But to give you an example:

An eight-day Ironman trek on the Alternative Lemosho Route, for four trekkers, would cost US$1883 per person.

A regular eight-day full-service Alternative Lemosho Route trek, for four trekkers, would be US$2879 per person.

While a ‘Hybrid’ trek, with accommodation and airport transfers included, as well as fresh food (and a cook), the price would be US$2364 per person.
On this particular Hybrid trek you would be expected to carry your own luggage. There will also be no mess tent, nor tables and chairs.

All you need to do is contact us and we will discuss with you your wishes, and we’ll be able to provide a price accordingly.