Summits Africa – In a nutshell


What do we do?
Summits Africa is a specialist adventure outfitter providing services to the travel trade. Our core services include mountain climbing, mountain biking, trekking and logistical support for film production. An absolute dedication to training and porter development equate to the highests levels of ethics and professionalism.
In summary:
  • We are East African based
  • Committed strongly to safety and ethics
  • 8 years of systems development
  • Intense guide AND porters training programs
  • Acute mountain sickness monitoring systems
  • Supplementary Oxygen and pulse oximetry on all high altitude trips, included in pricing
  • Comprehensive trip briefings & post trip debrief
  • 24 hour emergency ground support
  • Variety of specification options




Lake Natron Camp

Lake Natron camp (Ngare Sero) has been purchased by Summits Africa and herewith some links for those that need more info:





Please note that this is NOT Moivaro’s property which is located in the village, rather the property formally owned by Ngare Sero

The new camp launches in June 2014 with a mixture of the old team, new management and freshly trained guides and crew. Our prototype tent can be seen on Vimeo – see Natron Camp – Tent prototype

Chefs with ALTITUDE

Summits Africa managing director and principal trip leader Ake Lindstrom is currently leading a team of UK chefs on Kilimanjaro’s Lemosho route.

ImageRenowned UK chefs’ Ashley Palmer-Watts, John Freeman, Paul Foster and Maître d’ Paulo de Tarso are currently pushing themselves through the thin air on Kilimanjaro, and experiencing some of the worlds most beautiful mountain trails.

ImageThis challenging and exciting endeavor is all in the aim of raising money, and creating awareness for Farm Africa.

ImageFarm Africa support farmers and communities in Africa by providing modern, efficient and first class farming techniques to the people who need them the most. Farm Africa believe that given the right tools and techniques Africa has the power to feed itself; and that smallholders hold the key to lasting rural prosperity.


To keep up to speed with the chefs’ climb, Farm Africa and the teams’ efforts please see the Chefs with altitude blog–kilimanjaro-climb/chefs–kili-blog.

ImageWe would like to give a little mention the crew up on the mountain as they are the real engine room of all of our climbs, without these dedicated, hardworking and inspiring individuals we wouldn’t be able to provide such fantastic and inspiring expeditions.  To learn more about and to help support the crew, why not take a look at our partner organizations KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project)  and The Destiny Foundation

Look out for more news on Farm Africa trips at coming up we will be out-fitting the Tanzania Highland Challenge 145KM trek through the Tanzanian Highlands taking in the Great Rift Valley and some fabulous trails. There’s no question that it’ll be challenging but we are looking forward to the experience and being a part of this fantastic challenge.





Keep climbing!


General Manager

Summits Africa

Kilimanjaro Porter & Guide Training April / May 2013 underway

TRAINING – our way of giving back. Every year, twice a year (and that is 6 years in Summits Africa and another 6 previous to that too..)

Summits Africa is dedicated to training our guides to standards that are rarely seen even in  international tour operator guiding teams. As many will know, this is built into our operational systems (i.e. it is mandatory for Summits Africa to provide training bi annually).

We’ll post detailed summaries but for the time being here are some image (BE WARNED – NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH)! of our advanced training for our guides and assistants:

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Have a safe day y’all!

Lengai – Mountain of God: Update Dec 2012

What it is

An active natrocarbonatite volcano that is situated at the base of the Gregorian rift in Tanzania, East Africa. This volcano can be hiked in around 12 hours and is one of the most challenging hikes (if not the most challenging) hikes in Tanzania. An awesome adventure for the right sort of person!


The Experience

Prior to the 2007 eruptions that continued into August 2008, this was always a tough climb but now made tougher by the lack of vegetation and even looser ash under foot and precarious final ascent to the rim. On this trip we had a very strong group of 6 guests (2 of us had been up multiple times) and it still took 12 hours up and down. Relentless uphill. Loose underfoot. Frustrating. And then as dawn starts to spread her feathery fingers across the night sky, well you’re in for the experience of a lifetime. Dramatic views akin to flying, rich golden, greens, blacks and grey colours rioting in the dawn. A steepness and challenge to excite even the most hardy and then at the top peering into the heart of an active unique volcano in the rift valley. Oh, and on a good day you can also see all the other volcanoes from Kilimanjaro to the hundreds nearby and even the Serengeti short grass plains. Getting down takes as long as getting up and by the end if you are not utterly exhausted there is a chance you are not human.


Top tips

Water: you will use a lot of water. Going up is extremely strenuous, your body burns through a huge amount and coming down once it gets hot you loose and use similarly large amounts. Carry around 5 liters and you can leave some at the half way point (your guide should know this point and hide your bottles if there are lots of people hiking up!). Oral rehydration sachets highly recommended (at least 1 per person). Make sure your guide had some water & snacks, ours did not have enough and he suffered.

Food: take plenty of snacks, my preference is a mixed of protein bars, biltong, M&M’s and biscuits. Lovely to have a thermos of tea pre mixed if you have the energy to carry it J.  Keep snacking and drinking on the way up and down for optimal performance and recovery.

Clothing: head torch, wear hiking pants, take a fleece and a waterproof jacket, beanie, sun hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, CLIMBING HELMET – ask your tour operator / event organiser, friends but this is really a must – we had helmets and one of our group did have fist sized rocks hit is head dislodged by accident by other members of the group and the rocks accelerate to a dangerous pace in a short distance due to the steepness. You will be hot starting out and chilly at the top, the wind at the top will draw away heat (and hence waterproof jacket important to cut out wind chill).

If it is raining don’t do it. I’ve hiked this mountain multiple times in the rain and it really is no fun at all and pointless given there is the amazing Ngare Sero gorge, waterfalls and source, rift valley hikes and more in the event the weather is bad. In fact, for most people that are not into extreme adventure I would always advise alternative activities in the area.

Arranging the climb

All visits to the Lake Natron area require checking in the with the CBO (Community Based Organisation) in Ngare Sero.  They arrange guides (currently with working radios). You will need your own / tour operator transport to get to the base for a midnight start.  Generally it is a good for safety reasons to keep the car at the base with additional water, snacks, first aid with a driver / guard in the event of emergencies.

It takes around 40 minutes to reach the base from Ngare Sero village camps / lodges. Climbing without a guide is not allowed nor recommended as the route does change and is potentially dangerous. If organising through a tour operator then our advice is that it is helpful to have a proper mountain guide along (and of course with Summits Africa we always do this) for safety and additional information.

Getting there

Direct from Arusha you can drive 3 ways and all routes take approximately 5 to 6 hours. When the road is freshly graded it can take 4 to 5 hours. All routes very dusty once off the tarmac road. You need to drive to Ngare Sero village to attempt Lengai and all camps & campsites are located in this village.

Mto Wa Mbu route: from Arusha head towards Mto Wa Mbu and just before the village take the right turn towards Engaruka. You will pass Silela village and Engaruka (and some small villages) on route.  The road once you turn right near Mto Wa Mbu is dirt.

Monduli Juu Route: from Arusha drive to Monduli Juu – turn right just after Meserani before the army camp and head up and over the western slopes of Monduli, down onto the depression before Kitumbeini and join the Longido road to the East of Kitumbeini (there is another to road to the west, very broken at the time of writing.

Longido route: head out on the Nairobi road and once past Longido there is a left turn that takes you towards Kitumbeini and then over to Gelai and joins the main road from Mto Wa Mbu near Lengai.

On safari you can reach the area (Lake Natron / Ngare Sero) in others ways as part of an itinerary. From the Ngorongoro highlands you can do a 2 – 7 day walking safari from various parts of the highlands and end at Ngare Sero (the village where climbs are based from). There are at least 3 routes from Empakai crater that I know and probably many more to find. The shortest is to hike from Ngare Naiobi to the base of Lengai and get picked up and drive to Ngare Sero. There are some longer routes from Ngare Nairobi that are more off the beaten track and arrive directly into Ngare Sero (we just did a first descent on mountain bikes on one route – can only recommend for the extremely adventurous!!).

From the Serengeti you can drive from Klein’s Gate to Ngare Sero (around 5 hours depending on road conditions), or even from southern Serengeti via the Gol mountains, Olkarien / Sanjan gorge to Malambo and then to Ngare Sero. NOTE the 17 corners route is very badly eroded, not passable at the time of writing so always head via Malambo and join the main road to Loliondo.

The best combinations that I can recommend here are a Empakai – Natron walk, 2 nights in the area with a gorge walk and ascent for the very active and then return to Arusha. A great alternative we can organise is coming from Klein’s, biking to Natron and or hiking through Gol and ending in Natron (before heading back to Arusha). NOTE: drive distances are long and tiring.


 Fees & Payments

They have a fee structure currently of $100 up to 3 people, another $100 thereafter which is essentially 1 guide to 3 people rate. There are additional fees to visit other attractions but these days they seem to have sorted out this to make it easier such that $20 covers all attractions and includes a local guide. Given that they have this organised structure in place now I do recommend that people take advantage of it and give critical feedback to help them improve.

Also note coming or going on the Mto Wa Mbu route incurs fees at Engaruka ($10 per person), Longido ($10  per person) and Ngare Sero / Natron ($15 per person). These gate fees were supposed to be removed but at the time of writing (Dec 2012) they were still there. RESIDENTS should be paying less and I paid $5 at the Natron gate and nothing at the others. TAKE YOUR RESIDENCE PERMIT and for best results remain calm and polite.

Other activities

Ngare Sero gorge hikes: to the waterfalls or to the source (much further and not for those afraid of heights). You can do half day (for instance in the morning before going

Rift valley hikes: some great loops up the rift and around – very active and adventurous and a great alternative to Lengai if Lengai is cloudy / wet. Full day.

Homonid footprints: see some footprints set in the ash near Ngare Sero’s Lake Natron camp and combine this with seeing the flamingos.

Flamingoes: walking down by Lake Natron is actually very pretty, especially for sundowners with pretty light and stunning views. The best flamingo viewing seems to be around October / November when they are breeding but I would not advise going too close, they get agitated and continually doing this can’t be good for their feeding and or breeding. There are lots of other waders here, it’s a great bird spot (RAMSAR / IBA in fact and the most significant and important site for Lesser Flamingo breeding).



Historically Kamakia’s campsite on the river was the place to go but these days it has fallen into disrepair and was not being used at the time of writing. There is a small lodge build on top of the hill behind Kamakia’s – rather terrible placement as it can be see from almost everywhere, which is a bit of an eyesore, and a shame really as the real beauty of this area is the wilderness and rawness of the habitat. Other options include at least 4 other campsites closer to the village and Moivaro’s Lake Natron Tented camp that also has good camping grounds too (camping $10 per person a night). For something a little different try the very eco friendly Lake Natron Tented camp by Ngare Sero (not be confused by the Moivaro propery) which is closer to the lake and camouflaged by cargo netting. Definitely more expensive than the other offerings but away from the other camps and laudable ecologically sensitive camp.

 Links & Additional Info

A video I put together on our YouTube channel:

Wikipedia has some great links, check out

and for birders / guides & biologists:

Biking Tanzania

Biking Tanzania

Biking in Tanzania has been active for at least 10 years. As biking has developed so we have seen the emergence of more companies offering the activity and there are now a great range of trips from a couple of hours to multiple day full on challenges.

Given that Tanzania also has many fantastic national parks and reserves, it is also possible and highly recommended to combine more traditional game drives interspersed with more rural biking experiences to really secure a better sense of life in Tanzania.

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 Where are great places to cycle?

Not surprisingly the main tourist hubs having access to more infrastructure tend to be both logical places to do shorter day trips and serve as starting points for more extended rides. So:

Arusha: great day trips either riding up in the foothills of Mt Meru above Arusha Town or more extended rides that head out on to the plains or some combination thereof. A full day can include a tour tour – Arusha does have some interesting sites from the German fort or boma, to the Rwandan war crimes tribunal and then further afield a crater lake or some rural areas that offer fantastic mountain biking.  You can either do short 1 day trips or extend from Arusha to the Maasai Steppe / Manyara areas, or for challenge events even head towards Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean.

Moshi / Kilimanjaro: not unlike Arusha Moshi does have a rich history and on a bike you can certainly visit various sites with great biking on route. Day trips up the slopes are great for those that really want the exercise and there are some easier rides around town and even down to TPC (a huge sugar plantation that has easy riding). For the active you can also cycle as far as Maji Moto to some hot springs and Lake Chala but those are best done over 2 or even 3 days. Moshi is also the perfect starting point for circumnavigation of Kilimanjaro trips and there are variations that can include game viewing in West Kilimanjaro (for instance at Ndarakwai ranch) and Maasai as well as Chagga (+ coffee) visits.

Manyara region: shorter day trips are available from Lake Manyara Serena which normally include a visit to the village of Mto wa Mbu. Further afield, however, there are some real gems! This area actually many more options than are commonly appreciated, from riding outside of Tarangire National Park to areas further south to Kolo and Kondoa (where there are ancient rock paintings). A combination of all these areas normally takes around a week but shorter combinations of the Tarangire + Manyara regions are possible from 3 to 5 nights for a great blend of cultures, history and landscapes. This area is alive with change and overlapping cultures and wilderness, on bike you can see it first hand.

Usambaras: it is possible to cycle from the Moshi or even Arusha regions all the way down to the coast. My advice, keep east of both the Pare and Usambara mountains if you can (there is one section between the Pare and Usambara where you can cross down west on to the Pangani river valley as you cannot pass though on Mkomazi as yet on a bike). A great combination, if you have vehicle support, is to ride down the Pangani river valley and then walk up into the Usambaras and ride on from there to Amani Forest reserve and onto Pangani / Tanga. Around 10 days from Moshi to the coast or take 3 to 5 days just cycling in the Usambaras.

 Safety first!

Safety is important on a bike. A great mentality to take with you when biking in Africa is that cyclists have very few apparent rights. The best advice is to:

  1. Wear a helmet
  2. Be very vigilant
  3. Stay off the main roads where possible
  4. Take a local guide so you don’t get lost!
  5. Not to ride as you would at home – crossing a main road and signaling does not always get the best results

More info – Ake & Emanuel have biked around 3000 km in Tanzania. Ask them a question!


KPAP – we had just had a meeting, so what?

Following the meeting in Moshi on the 19 November 2012 Karen has kindly forwarded on the agreed standards / monitoring and reporting mechanisms that we collectively agreed on.  You can read those below, but note they are subject to adjustment.

Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project - KPAP

KPAP meeting

 Why was there a meeting?

Well throughout the lifespan of KPAP the organization has forever been dogged by critics, almost invariably companies that are simply not interested in porters rights but others too – many companies simply don’t understand the role of KPAP and lack of understanding in any field tends to lead to conflict and fear.  This meeting was akin to ‘going back to the drawing board’ and yet it wasn’t – the standards and principles of porters rights are not NEW, they are really simple and basic human rights. It is very well worth noting that KPAP only advocates (at this point in time at least) the treatment standards established by the local stakeholders (TANAPA, KINAPA, Tour Operator Associations, Guide and Porter Unions) the wage guidelines and principles published on government sites (see wage and weight guidelines on TANAPA’s website ( – worth also noting that the last formally agreed upon wage among the stakeholders  is 8,000 tsh per day for a porter at the time of publishing. NOTE: there is another stakeholder meeting at the end of the November 2012 and a change in baseline wages may be announced.

 So what does KPAP actually deliver?

You can read all the info on their website  but here is what we know from first hand experience:

  1. Advocacy: they speak out and declare that porters have basic human rights. Because they exist people all over the world, both locally and internationally, have a focal point to read about the reality first hand.
  2. Independent monitoring: as you read through the info below, perhaps as a first timer looking into the issues, you should quickly come to understand that there really are literally hundreds of perspectives on the issues surrounding working on Kilimanjaro and the industry that walking up this very beautiful mountain has spawned. With so many perspectives and so much money involved (conservatively a $60,000,000 forex earner before the trips are sold overseas) it is hard to verify what is true and what is not. A company says it pays the minimum wage but do they? Does the money they think they pay actually get delivered to the porter that carries the gear? Is there corruption at any level that can interfere with proper treatment? How much do porters really take home? This organization is independent. They perform several monitoring activities which include asking direct questions to the porters – that info comes back TO THE COMPANIES first off and summary non company specific info is shared to help the industry progress. Independence is key – any company that does not adhere to some sort of independent monitoring can just say what they want to – AND THEY DO.
  3. Clothing Lending: KPAP now has five Clothing Lending sites at KPAP’s main Office in Moshi as well as in Arusha and at the Machame, Marangu and Rongai gates.  Donated gear is available to any mountain crew at no charge.
  4. Training: rights awareness, first aid and then, with company support, (additional partners) English, HIV / AIDS awareness and money management. This is where Summits really works hard, our training is core to what we do and KPAP help us to train the trainers and deliver results. Thank you KPAP!

 So what’s the big deal?

 Summits Africa  performed an assessment of porters lives in November 2012. What we found was eye opening, actually shocking. Porters are not even the poorest of the poor in Tanzania and yet the income levels the industry pays on average (around 8,300 tsh per day) are shockingly below what could be considered a living wage. In light of this TRAINING has to be one of the key ways that we, as an industry, can help improve the lives of porters. Getting of the base line wage levels is paramount to being able to afford a better standard of living – skills, knowledge, choices..

 NOTE: aggregate wage + tip averages are:

NonPartner Companies – Wage: 8,300 Tip: 6,800tsh
Partner Companies- Wage: 10,200 Tip: 7,500tsh

 From the meeting the following were noted & agreed:


 The Partner Company agrees to:

  1. Pay the minimum wage established by the stakeholders. *In the event that a new minimum wage is declared, Partner companies will have a period of 1 year to implement the new wage.
  2. Pay salaries within 2 days after the descent of a climb. *If the payment day falls on a Sunday, the salaries will be paid on Monday.
  3. Provide the appropriate number of porters so that porters carry no more than 20kg for the company weight.
  4. Implement a tipping procedure to ensure that the porters receive the full amount of tip intended for them.
  5. Provide the porter with at least 2 meals per day and cover the food costs.
  6. Ensure that porters have the proper gear for the climb.
  7. Provide adequate tents and ground sheet.
  8. Assist with the descent of an ill porter and provide for medical treatment as determined to be work-related.
  9. Establish a policy against the payment of jembe and institute a procedure for reporting it.
  10. Declare that kirunje will not be tolerated within the company.


The Partner Company gives its consent for KPAP to perform the following activities to help assure that the Proper Treatment Standards are being met:

  1. Interview to understand the company’s procedures related to the crew
  2. Attend climber briefing
  3. Observe salary payment
  4. Examine tipping procedure
  5. Interact with climbers and obtain Post Climb Survey
  6. Interview porters
  7. Submit climb schedule to assist KPAP’s ability to monitor company
  8. Allow KPAP porter to participate with climb
  9. Organize meeting with porters on an annual basis in which KPAP and Company Directors/Managers participate
  10. Refusal to cooperate with any of the monitoring activities will result in termination of Partner status


  •  Written report via email
  • Phone call with urgent issues
  • Biannual meeting with Partner Company to review findings


  • Partner Company is issued a warning if 3 offenses are noted by KPAP.
  • Partner Company is placed on probation for 1 month or the next 3 climbs for small companies with few climbs.
  • Company is taken off probation if deficiency is corrected.
  • Overseas Partner Company is informed of situation if no change is made after probation period.
  • Partner Company is given 1 additional month to rectify situation.
  • Local Partner Company and overseas Partner Company are removed from Partner list if no changes are made.
  • Any Company removed as a Partner can reapply for Partner status.

 This info is straight from the meeting and so expect updates – this is a process and we hope that all companies actively engage to make the lives of the people that work at the basic level better.

 What is Summits doing about making the climbing industry a better place?

KPAP is one part of what companies can do but what other initiatives do we engage in, and perhaps could others?

  • We actively encourage KPAP to monitor us, primarily for the independence. And training. And information sharing. And their feedback. And because we think all human beings have basic rights, and we’re perhaps not the ones to dictate that..
  • We provide bi annual training to our porters, guides and crew
  • We actively encourage companies to join KPAP, either locally to adhere to basic standards, and internationally to provide the outside pressure to comply
  • We work business to business to enable our partners to focus on the selling of trips whilst we work on the ‘business’ of good business practices!
  • We build assessment tools & share them for free to let any company make their own assessment of income and expenditures of porters to enable them to make their own informed decisions

Our advice to any traveler: let not price be the major determinant of your choice to hike Kilimanjaro. Value is always important but not at the expense of basic rights. Ask questions or if you don’t have the time to really dig deep, consider independent bodies as a way of verifying whether the company you choose is actually delivering on it’s promises.

Peaks Foundation & St Jude’s: what a difference a climb can make!

This August saw a groundbreaking climb of students all the way from Australia climbing Mt Meru raising money for St Jude’s, Laura Hartstone from Peaks Foundation wrote us a kind note:

“I wanted to thank you for your recent support in the Peaks Foundation Girls Challenge. The team from Australia raised over $20,000 to allow for Peaks to send the Tanzanian girls on the mountain and document the story. It was a truly phenomenal event to watch unfold, and, as you know, all 17 Australian girls and 10 Tanzanian girls made it to the summit of Mount Meru (4,566m – 14,980ft).

One of the Tanzanian guides said it best himself – at the summit he congratulated the Tanzanian girls and told them how proud he was.  He said “This is a massive achievement you have all accomplished and a big moment for the country of Tanzania.”



Well done all of you for reaching the top & a pleasure to be your on the ground partners!

Summits Team

Kilimanjaro Camping Specifications – our differences

We have had a number of requests for images and info to show how our camping specifications on Kilimanjaro differ. Here is a brief description:

Lightweight: our lightest specification, but still class leading with professional mountaineering tents, a foam mattress, toilet tent and dining tent, lightweight stools and tables to eat off.

Luxury: As with the lightweight but bigger mountaineering sleeping tents, thicker sleeping mattress, sleeping bag (rated – 30 f / -30 c), pillow, backed chairs and additional courses at the main meals. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

VIP: For those that want the highest specification on Mt Kilimanjaro / Mt Kenya, then this is it. A walk in sleeping tent and additional shower tent as well as all items provided in the Luxury specification.

See our full specification sheets for more detailed info

Kilimanjaro luxury

Luxury Kilimanjaro climbs with Summits Africa

Destiny Foundation begins!

Our Charity is finally set up.

It has been a long process reaching this stage, but we have finally managed to register our very own charity – The Destiny Foundation. We will be releasing more info as board members are selected and our strategic plan for the next 5 years is completed but in brief this foundation will be a huge help in our education programs and will support HIV/AIDS awareness, First Aid, money management, rights awareness classes that we have been running for the last 6 years AND we hope this will become a new avenue for putting funds towards conservation projects such as easement projects in the Maasai Steppe. Sources of funds? Summits Africa & our wonderful partner companies and then our first source of income received today was a 900,000 tsh donation from Tanzanite commissions. For all short term communications please email Ake ( and for future reference there will be a dedicated person to contact once we have finished the operational set up. Why Destiny Foundation? Simple: education gives people the chance to change their lives!Destiny Foundation

Kilimanjaro Crater Cleanup – Poos moved to a better place!

Summits has been running an incentive program for porters to help clean up Kilimanjaro’s summit for around 2 years now. The big issue in the crater is HUMAN WASTE. The frozen poops are really everywhere around the crater camp, not to mention other waste as well. None if it degrades, or if it does, it does so extremely slowly. So we give our porters extra payments per bucket of waste they bring down and they deposit it in the public toilets back down at Barafu camp. Yes the waste is still on the mountain but at least it is in the right planned place. Let’s hope others follow suit and at the very least – take out their waste after camping in the crater!

This trip – 4 bucket loads of human waste… Also check out the snow – those climbing now bring crampons…

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