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Zara Tours Reviews

4.9 - Excellent Based on 10 reviews

The overall rating score is based on all time feedback received and does not express any opinions of BookMundi.com. The current reviews and scores are thus representative of a company's performance.

5 - Excellent
for Kilimanjaro - Lemosho route
Paige Hudson From USA At
“Kilimanjaro 8 Day Shira Route

Choosing a Guide Company:
I chose Zara Tours, the local outfitter for Kilimanjaro because I had booked with them in the past, and was very satisfied with the level of service I received for the cost. With the exception of a “western guide” they can provide all the bells and whistles you may want to pay for -- including Gamow bags, oxygen, and pulse oximeters.

The Route:
I chose a special 8-day Shira itinerary because, although you drive up to Shira 1 at 11,485 ft, you avoid day 2 of the Lemosho route which is a pretty grueling day. On day 2 we did a 3-4 hour acclimatization hike and spent another night there at Shira 1. On day 3 we did another acclimatization hike up to Cathedral Peak on the way to Shira 2 at 12,600 ft, and this put us back on track with the usual 8 day Lemosho route. Zara is very good about designing a trek around your wants and needs. If it’s possible, they will do it for you.

My Team:
I paid for a private climb because at 52, I’m a little older than the average climber, and I didn’t want to have my climb affected by other climbers based on speed, experience, illness, or any other factor. When you undertake an expedition of this sort, personalities and experience or lack thereof can come into play. More than once I saw a climber arguing with a guide about the rest of the party being too fast or too slow, and I knew I had made the right choice. The guide basically oversees the team, and spends the day leading you to the objective camp for that day. On arrival at camp, the guide is essentially off duty other than briefing you on the next day’s objective, but my guide, Simon Parmena, was always nearby and available for anything I might need. Though I hadn’t asked for it, he carried oxygen and an oximeter just because he wanted to be able to assist any trekker in need. Talk about a work ethic! But I think what I liked the most about Simon was that he was able to read me as a trekker so well. By that, I mean he knew when I needed a break; he regularly reminded me to eat and drink; he was an excellent manager of trail time which is so important for someone like me who would stop and look at every view and rock and flower along the way and end up at camp three hours overdue. He also explained his rationale for different choices and educated me along the way. I highly recommend Simon as a guide.

My cook:
Robert, was responsible for preparing all meals including trail lunches for long days. He made the most delicious meals, multi-course affairs that included soup and lots of vegetables and fresh fruits at every meal. Breakfasts begin with porridge which is great the first few days, but after that, if you aren’t used to it, it gets kind of old, so this time around I brought instant oatmeal from home, and Robert gladly provided my oatmeal and toast. On day 3, even that got old, so I asked Simon if Robert might know how to make French Toast, and he said absolutely, so I had that for the rest of the trek…delicious. There’s something about having made to order French Toast while you’re climbing a mountain and sleeping in a tent.

My waiter:
Amiry carried all food and cooking supplies to the next camp, and then served me all evening. He was very caring and hardworking. The whole team was great, but Amiry spent the day as a porter up to the next camp, and then became the waiter at camp. I told him he was more of a butler/personal footman than just a waiter. His English was nearly as good as the guide, which is not always the case, and he went above and beyond in so many ways. Every night when it would get so cold, he made a hot-water bottle for me to sleep with; when I was particularly tired on the morning after a long day, he packed my duffels for me; he was always looking out for how much I was eating and drinking. He consistently went above and beyond his normal duties. He even came with Simon and me on summit night when usually only the guide goes and the other team members wait back at high camp. I just can’t praise Amiry enough. I’m not sure I would have made it without him.

The porters Emanuel and Paolo were extremely hardworking and served as incredible inspiration when the going got tough. I remember looking up at the Barranco Wall thinking how in the world was I going to do that? Then you see the porters climbing with huge loads on their heads, and you find the courage and inspiration to move forward.

Springlands Hotel:
This property is your base of operations before and after the climb. It is a few km from town, but the compound is very secure behind high walls and a steel gate with 24 hr security. Once inside, it truly is an oasis with lovely gardens and a gorgeous pool area. I read negative commentary, and while I found some of the comments to be technically accurate, I felt expectations were a bit high. All too often, people travel to a developing country like Tanzania, pay $70 USD a night, and expect The Plaza. There are going to be differences here and there, but you need to have an open mind and remember where you are. Power outages are common, for example, but rarely last longer than a few minutes. Wifi is not available in rooms, but it is in the garden and dining areas, and it’s free, which is not always the case even in some top hotels. Yes, there are flies outside in the covered dining area. Care is taken to keep food covered, but you’re outside, and garden settings are going to have flies; that’s just part of being outside. Rooms vary in size and features, but are certainly comfortable. All beds have mosquito nets, and if you have any problems, the staff is ready to assist. There is also a small gift shop that carries water, snacks, souvenirs, and all the toiletries you may have left behind. Souvenir prices were fair, and saved me a trip into town. There are also spa services such as massage, facial, manicure, and pedicure at very reasonable prices. All in all the Springlands Hotel felt comfortable and secure and had everything I needed.

The Tipping Ceremony:
From what I saw, this event varies widely from quiet and small celebrations to loud drinking parties with singing and antics, and certificates and cash changing hands. As a private client and the only woman, I opted for the former small celebration with my team. The hotel cashier graciously got six envelopes from the bank for me, and I determined how much to give each person. The envelopes were open, and all looked inside without extensive discussion and seemed to be quite pleased. A note here, it really is important to give newer currency as cash will be worthless to them otherwise. No banks or other merchants will accept them, and the porters will be stuck waiting for another guest who is willing to trade new bills for the old. I gave new USD to the guide, waiter, and cook, and a combination of new USD and TZ Shillings to the porters. Bottom line on tipping – these people rely on tips as a significant part of their income. They work hard, and while tipping is certainly not required to the levels suggested, particularly if you are unhappy with the service, Tanzania is not like the US with the typical safeguards American workers have.

Summing Up Overall the trip was fabulous. I was proud of myself for all that I accomplished and for finally getting to Uhuru Peak, and I couldn’t have done that without my team. I feel very comfortable recommending Zara Tours.”
4.5 - Excellent
for Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit
Julie From UK At
“Three of us climbed the Machame route in the beginning of November (we are aged 50, 52 and 74). The friendly team on the ground sorted out our gear hiring requirements and generally made sure we were ready to go. The guides were professional, helpful, patient and caring and, together with their team, were absolutely phenomenal all round. On summit night a second assistant joined us on the walk and his help was invaluable as two of us suffered with symptoms of altitude sickness and his presence meant that we each had our own guide. Even though our summit took longer than usual because of us not feeling great they made sure that we all made it to the top and back to base camp safely.

I would highly recommend Winford and his team. They did an amazing job in some trying weather conditions and we are very grateful to them for helping us realise our dream.”
5 - Excellent
for Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit
Imorse From UK At
“A very well organised trek with a very good friendly crew,good food,total age of the 4 of us 239 years and they got us all to the summit.I have trekked in the himalaya and south america and this was the best crew I have used.”
5 - Excellent
Imorse From UK At
“A very well organised trek with a very good friendly crew,good food,total age of the 4 of us 239 years and they got us all to the summit.I have trekked in the himalaya and south america and this was the best crew I have used.”
4.5 - Excellent
Julie From UK At
“Three of us climbed the Machame route in the beginning of November (we are aged 50, 52 and 74). The friendly team on the ground sorted out our gear hiring requirements and generally made sure we were ready to go. The guides were professional, helpful, patient and caring and, together with their team, were absolutely phenomenal all round. On summit night a second assistant joined us on the walk and his help was invaluable as two of us suffered with symptoms of altitude sickness and his presence meant that we each had our own guide. Even though our summit took longer than usual because of us not feeling great they made sure that we all made it to the top and back to base camp safely.
I would highly recommend Winford and his team – they did an amazing job in some trying weather conditions and we are very grateful to them for helping us realise our dream.”

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