I used Jeremiah Gathu, [email protected]
. I heard of him from someone on Thorn Tree who had used his outfit the year before. No office, I emailed several times before leaving here, then met him at the Stanley Hotel coffeeshop. everything went smoothly enough. No real problems except the food which was basically tasteless. The trekking guide was an okay guy but not much of a cook. There was only one porter. That poor guy must have been carrying 80 to 100 pounds, BIG pack, one hand carrying a food bag, a kerosene container in the other to balance him out. Definitely more than the rules allow.
I'm thinking the fee was $950 for a 6 day Chogoria-Sirimon trek with Nelion in the middle. We actually went out Naro Moru. It snowed a couple of days in a row, fortunately the day after Nelion. 8 inches one morning, the same the next, and I chose to wait an extra day at Austrian. It melted quickly enough but I'm sure that none of the locals would be guiding a snow-covered Nelion.
The other company I'd talked to in NBO quoted a price of $980 and I think they were a litttle more established. Both prices are without tips. I think one could bargain hard and get the price down a bit. That's the same I paid for Kili and the park fees in Tanzania are, what?, twice as much or more?
In January you don't need mountaineering boots for the climb. It's all rock. BUT you do need crampons and an axe to get across the glacier to the start of the climb. It's possible to drop down below the glacier and cross to the start of the route but that's a lot of extra effort and time. Really less effort to tote the crampons up, then just leave them at the start of the route for your return. i used some hiking boots on the route but would have been happier with some good sticky rubber approach shoes. That's really all you need for the trek. Except for summit day, I wore running shoes on both Kili and Mt. Kenya. Nothing on the glacier is remotely technical, just a stroll across angled ice and snow.
Hope this helps.