Exodus Travels is a highly-rated adventure tour operator that provides over 500 memorable holiday options in more than 90 countries worldwide. First taking travellers to the Himalayas 45 years ago, Exodus is no stranger to some of the highest mountain peaks in the world. In recent years, the operator has established a groundbreaking initiative to provide more opportunities for the workers and natives of Arusha, Tanzania – home of the mighty Kilimanjaro.
Let’s take a closer look at the Kilimanjaro Porter Project and discover why it’s so important for those who reside in the shadow of the mountain:
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain on the African continent and Eastern Hemisphere – standing at 5,985 metres above sea level, it is the fourth most topographically prominent peak in the world. This formidable dormant volcano is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tanzania and has been a magnet for climbers since 1848 when it was first documented by European missionary Johannes Rebmann. At present, around 30,000 climbers take on the peak each year.
Although the neighbouring town of Arusha benefits from tourism during the trekking season, employment opportunities are limited in the rainy months, especially for those who work as mountain porters.
The Beginnings Of The Kilimanjaro Porter Project
In order to give something back to the community and provide some much-needed opportunity for the hard-working porters of Arusha, adventure holiday specialists Exodus established the Kilimanjaro Porter Project back in 2004. One of the first steps taken was the launching of three Rainy Season Schools, where porters can receive education and training in customer service, environmental awareness and languages during off-season periods.
In 2010, Exodus starter to offer eligible candidates three-month scholarships for career development courses in partnership with the Kilimanjaro Guide Scholarship Foundation (KGSF), also enrolling 70 porters on a three-week First Aid training course. By 2020, the initiative was bolstered further with the establishment of the Leave No Trace Porter Programme, which provides extra training in ethics, environmental care and operational methods to up to 90 porters working on the peak.
At present, the Kilimanjaro Porter Project is working to fund alternative income generation training for more than 1,000 people in the region.
Mountain Lioness Scholarship
While the role of mountain porter has been traditionally dominated by males, Exodus Travels’ have established the Mountain Lioness Scholarship scheme to empower and support female porters working in the region. The scheme has aimed to boost representational employment in Tanzania, providing in-depth training for women in essential porter skills such as wilderness rescue, mountain ecology and first aid care.
While the first 10 Lionesses graduated from the programme and obtained their official Guide Licenses in 2020, there have been a further 20 additions as of 2022.