Monday Travel Hack: Mt. Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar, Africa for Christmas & New Years. Save up to $1,500!

A family member of the Flight Team along with five of her classmates are going to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro after the Christmas holiday and then spend a few days at the beaches of Zanzibar for New Years to relax and recuperate. The itinerary is to fly from San Francisco to Mt. Kilimanjaro then head to Zanzibar by plane before flying back to San Francisco.

Mt. Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the world’s largest freestanding mountain consisting of three inactive volcanoes and standing in at 19,340 feet or 5,895 meters. Due to its relatively easy ascent, it’s a major destination for mountaineers and hikers. In addition, Mt. Kilimanjaro is also used as a base for entry into the Serengeti.

The challenge is that Mt. Kilimanjaro is serviced by two airlines that scheduled service from the United States (Ethiopian Airlines and KLM). Travel hacking this is not going to be easy. That said, let’s look at how much it cost to fly from San Francisco to Kilimanjaro and returning from Zanzibar to San Francisco. The ascent is scheduled for the 29th of December. We’ll have her classmates and her fly out from San Francisco on the 26th of December and returning 6th of January.

A quick search on (ITA Software is the software that powers Kayak and hundreds of other travel sites) shows that the itinerary above is $3,772 and they still have to buy a flight from Mt. Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar. Factoring in the cost of tour to ascent Mt. Kilimanjaro, this is an expensive trip

We then looked at the nearby airports to Kilimanjaro: Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania were relatively close. We just did a straight SFO – Nairobi & SFO & Dar es Salaam search and saw that Nairobi was $1,643 on Virgin Atlantic and Dar es Salaam was $1,897 on a mixture of United & Qatar airlines.  Using as we discussed in last week’s Travel Hack to Sydney, we found that Precision Air Services of Tanzania had the best service from Nairobi & Dar es Salaam to Kilimanjaro. Precision Air Services charges $192 from Nairobi and $172 from Dar es Salaam.

Nairobi & Virgin Atlantic it is then! The cost so far is $1,835. However, her classmates and her still needed to buy segments from Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar and Zanzibar to Nairobi to get themselves home.

Once again, we used the to search for best prices. The ascent is going to take 5 days, meaning, they would be traveling from Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar on January 2nd and to make sure they make their flight on the 6th, Zanzibar to Nairobi on the 5th. In both cases, ITA Software had Precision Air Services as the cheapest $169 and $176 for both segments. Total cost $2,180 plus a night in a hotel in Nairobi. Our family friend and her friends each saved over $1,500 by flying somewhere close by.

Virgin Atlantic is a Continental partner, however, the ticket class for the fare above does not qualify for mileage earning, then again, 18,000 miles from SFO – Nairobi is not worth $1,500.


Mt. Kilimanjaro & Zanzibar Background:

  • Visa Requirements: US Citizens can get a visa on arrival for $100. A multi-entry option is available for the same price. So get that. In addition, proof of yellow fever vaccination is required
  • Currency: $1 USD = 1,632 Tanzanian Shillings

Kenya Background:

  • Visa Requirements: US Citizens can get a visa on arrival for $25.
  • Currency: $1 USD = 94 Kenyan Shillings


If you have a destination in mind and find the airfare to be expensive, maybe we can help. Send us a message on our Facebook Page or Twitter with the destination and maybe you will be our feature for a Monday Travel Hack!

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