MEET OUR Mountain Guide:
Frances Dominick Massanja

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Position: Mountain Guide
Date of Birth: 23rd September 1990
Place of Birth: Arusha, Tanzania
Language Spoken: English and Swahili
Number of years in the travel industry: 11 years
Number of years working with Easy Travel: 1 Year

About Frances

I was born in Arusha at Mount Meru Hospital, where I studied in primary, secondary, and high school before attending Tumaini University, Makumira, located just east of Arusha.

My uncle was a safari tour guide, and he interested me in the tourism industry. When I was small, he would return from safari with gifts for us all, gifts such as chocolates or biscuits which were given to him from the wonderful guests whom he had taken on safari. That made me want to meet and socialize with visitors worldwide.

As this motivated me to be more involved with tourism, I concentrated much more on my biology, history, and geography studies because they helped explain nature and the environment in our beautiful Country. So, during my time at school, I took these subjects seriously and passed the exams. After that, I enrolled at a university and pursued these subjects further.

Sometime later, in 2008, I had the chance to go to Mount Kilimanjaro for the first time when I went to see my grandmother nearby. During my time there, I also visited a friend who, at that time, was a Kilimanjaro Mountain porter. I greeted him at the Kilimanjaro gate, where he was waiting for a trekking opportunity. As it happened, the park warden wanted some building material to be taken to the Horombo Camp, up on the mountain. I had no idea what the trip to Horombo Camp would be like, so I did not mind volunteering. I joined the rest of the crew with my friend to take some of the material. This turned out to be the toughest experience I had ever faced in my life! But during this trek, I could see how other guides were trekking with their guests, and I became very interested in becoming a mountain guide.

In 2012, I joined a mountain guide course held by Kilimanjaro National Park. Since then, I have worked with different companies that organize mountain trips. In 2022, I was delighted to join Easy Travel and Tours, where I got an opportunity to be one of their mountain guides.  Regarding my home life, I live with my wife and three children. My firstborn are twins, a boy and a girl called Alvin and Alice. My youngest is a boy called Jaden.

Favorite Park in Tanzania

Kilimanjaro National Park is, of course, my favorite park in Tanzania. Mount Kilimanjaro is the world’s highest freestanding mountain, and we are proud to have it here in Tanzania, East Africa. It is the only mountain in a tropical area that has glaciers. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a true wonder of Africa. This mountain has five fascinating vegetation zones, with different species of flora and fauna in each vegetation zone. You can take seven different routes, six ascending and one descending.

Favorite Route

My favorite route for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is the Lemosho route, which is over eight days. 

Favorite Food

My favorite food is ‘ugali,’ which is some maize flour mixed with boiling water. The process of making it begins with a porridge, then you gradually add more maize flour, mixing with a wooden spoon until it becomes stiff and dry. You can enjoy ugali with vegetable stew or meat. (I prefer it with vegetable stew and fried fish).

Favorite Hobby

I like to spend time relaxing and watching football. I am a big Manchester United fan. The local Tanzanian Football team that I support is Simba Sports Club. I sometimes play football in my free evenings or weekends, which is a good way to meet different people.

Favorite TV Show

My favorite TV shows are ‘Money Heist’ and ‘Peaky Blinders’ because I am interested in crime investigations. I also like to watch National Geographic Wild shows, which explain different geographical areas and worldwide wildlife. 

Favorite Singer/band

I am a big fan of 90’s music, such as rap music, country music, or dancehall reggae – it depends on my mood! My favorite singer is Kenny Rogers, who sings Country, and my favorite songs are ‘Coward of the County,’ ‘The Gambler, ‘ and ‘Evening Star.’

14 Questions and answers with Frances

Firstly, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is an experience of a lifetime because there is a uniqueness to this magical mountain. Mount Kilimanjaro has many different vegetation zones, all on the same mountain. There is the cultivation zone, montane forest zone, heath, moorland zone, alpine desert, and finally, the Arctic zone. It is also the roof of Africa, at an elevation of 5,895m. The journey of the climb is as rewarding as the destination due to the sheer beauty you witness.

My favorite route is the Lemosho Route because I like the beauty of the landscape when trekking along this route. I also enjoy being on the mountain for many days – and the Lemosho Route trek takes eight days, giving people time to acclimatize. This route lets you see all three volcanic peaks: Shira, Mawenzi, and Kibo.
Trekkers make the best possible choice by choosing Easy Travel and Tours as this company has good operating procedures, which they follow. It also respects its mountain staff and pays them a good salary. Also, Easy Travel and Tours hire the best, most experienced guides who have WFR (Wilderness First Responder) training, which means guests are always in safe hands during their trek.

My favorite month to climb is November, during the rainy season. The weather is fairly moderate in terms of temperature. It is snowing at the top of the mountain, and all the paths and trails are covered with glaciers.

I like the Baranco Camp because of the landscape and wall formation. This is mainly because of my love of rock climbing. It is located in the ‘Moorland Zone,’ at the junction of the Lemosho, Londrosi, Machame, and Umbwe routes, and also has a good network service so you can get in touch with your family!
People do not expect it to be a challenge to climb the mountain! Some think it is a ‘piece of cake!’ Another thing that surprises many trekkers is that the porters can carry 20kgs of luggage and balance this on their shoulders and the top of their heads without even holding it! 
My favorite part of our Tanzanian culture is the people’s unity, love, and solidarity. I also love my tribe, the Sukuma,’ who live on the shores of Lake Victoria. Their main activities are farming, keeping livestock, and fishing, and their staple foods are ugali and lake fish. 

‘Jambo,’ means ‘hello.’

Asante means ‘thank you

Karibu  means ‘you are welcome.’ 

I also like to teach my trekkers the ‘Kilimanjaro Anthem,’ known as the ‘Jambo Song.’ 

Our guests would be surprised to discover how much I know about mountain ecology and Tanzania’s politics, economics, culture, religion, and social aspects. I also like to teach my trekkers different Swahili songs and some Swahili Language and help them with the translation.
Some advice I would recommend to every potential or upcoming trekker is to, first and foremost, adopt a ‘PMA’ (Positive Mind Attitude). Please prepare mentally and physically for the challenge, and do not expect something easy. However, you can keep a positive mind and motivate yourself! Treat Mount Kilimanjaro with high respect. Follow all the rules and regulations of Kilimanjaro National Park. Listen and take all the advice given to you by your mountain guides, as they are the experts – 100% dedicated to your safety. And finally – enjoy yourselves!
I have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro more than 100 times as a mountain guide, using all seven routes, and I always enjoy every trek. 

Sometimes rainfall is not friendly to the hiking experience and is an unexpected challenge since weather is always unpredictable, even if you use a reliable weather forecast. 

Strong winds can tear the tents, especially in the high camps or on the way to the summit. This can prevent some trekkers from reaching the summit. 

 It is cold during the climb, and this can cause hypothermia. There are mountain conditions such as Acute Mountain Sickness, which can cause a loss of appetite, headache, or nausea.

To prevent altitude sickness, I recommend that every trekker listens to their mountain guide’s advice. Every trekker should be well-hydrated, so you must drink enough water. Everyone must walk at a normal, comfortable pace and not rush (we say “pole pole,” which means “slowly, slowly”). Every trekker must have enough nutrition, so you must eat enough food. Be aware and listen to your body and what it needs. Always remember to keep having that ‘positive mental attitude’!

Problems are caused by trekkers who do not share full details of their medical history or the medication prescribed by their doctors. This affects them during their climb, as the mountain guides are unaware.

Some diseases are life-threatening, and this medical information must be shared in advance with the mountain guides; if not, it can be too late and even fatal.


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