When you arrive in the Kilimanjaro rejoin you will no doubt be greeted with warm smiles and the word Karibu which means welcome in Swahili. This means that you will have come into with the Chagga people of Kilimanjaro.
The Chagga tribe are the third largest ethnic group in Tanzania and they like most Tanzanians speak Swahili which is a Bantu language. The Chaga (as they are also known) are traditionally farmers who cultivate crops such as millet, plantains, bananas and coffee. They are also one of the richest tribes thanks to their cultivation of the fertile lands of Kilimanjaro.
When you go to Tanzania to climb Mt Kilimanjaro you will get to know some of the Chagga tribe very well because they make excellent porters having not only grown up trekking the mountain but having also developed the art of carrying on the head. Today you will find Chagga people doing all types of work from administration to engineering because the Chagga are known to be hard working and industrious.
In the past the Chagga tribes were split up into chiefdoms and Mount Kili became a trading pass, so who better to guide you and support you on your trek to the summit than the ancestors of the original tribes! No one knows this mountain better than the people who grew up living in its shadow.
A lot of the porters on Kili hail from the Chagga people and are proud to continue working on the mountain of their ancestors. They will go to great lengths to ensure your climb is safe and successful because they have such a strong work ethic.
As you climb ‘pole, pole’ up the mountain, your porters will pass you carrying your heavy burden, and as you reach your camp they will have set up your tents and prepared your feast. When you feel like giving up or you are struggling with each step you take, the porters and guides are there with you every step of the way because they want nothing more than to see you succeed in your goal of reaching the summit in the safest way possible.
The Chagga are an important part of Kilimanjaro history and the porters of today are an invaluable group who make your trips to Kilimanjaro and the National Parks possible.
So when you meet a porter or guide on your trekking trip in Tanzania, Chagga or not, you can rest assured they’re a pretty special person because they are simply there to assist you.