By Carmen Roberts
Entry fees for Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro and Serengeti National Park will double next year in a bid to preserve the environment and curb the human impact of mass tourism.
From the 1 January 2006, Mount Kilimanjaro climbers face a fee increase of 100%, from US$30 (£17) a day to US$60 (£34) a day, while visitors to the Serengeti National Park will be charged US$50 (£28) a day instead of $30.
The fee increase follows extensive consultations between members of the Tanzania National Parks Authority (Tanapa), the Tanzania Tour Operator's Association and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
"We need to protect the environment. There is a lot of demand from tourism and we need to control the numbers in order to maintain the ecological integrity," Tanapa planning office Allan Kijazi told the BBC.
Its all part of a new marketing strategy aimed at encouraging high yield, low volume tourism.
Tanapa is finalising its marketing strategy, which will encourage tourists to visit during the low season, not just during the high season months of August to December, in an effort to redistribute visitor numbers.
The Serengeti is a centre for photographic safaris
The parks authority is also aiming to diversify its products.
"At the moment we have a lot of photographic safaris in the Serengeti and we need to introduce other activities like walking safaris," said Mr Kijazi.
While there are plans to promote lesser known paths on Kilimanjaro to ease pressure on the popular Mechame and the Merangu - also known as the "coca cola" route.
Around 25,000 visitors climb Mount Kilimanjaro each year, compared to 15,000 visitors 10 years ago.
Hotel owner and local tour operator Seamus Brice-Bennett admits that the huge numbers are causing campsites on the mountain to resemble refugee camps.
"Remember that for every climber on a camping route there are probably another three support personnel. So waste and litter are big problems, as is the availability of water at certain times of the year," he said.
"Our concern at the moment is to try and get the national park to specify the limits they want to put on the camping routes, which at the moment are unlimited. The management plan for the park specifies a limit, but we passed that limit a long time ago," Mr Brice-Bennett said.
The current management plan was drawn up in 1992, and it stipulates a maximum of 16 climbers on the western routes like the Londorossi, Machame, Umbwe.
But during the high season, tour operators say its quite common for there to be well over 100 climbers a day on the Machame route alone.
A new management plan is currently being drafted and could be presented to the Tanapa board by the middle of next year.
Mr Brice-Bennett is supportive of the fee increase, but tourists and other tour operators fear it will put these national parks out of the reach of the average tourist.
"At the moment it was a stretch, but if the fees went any higher then it would be out of my budget and more inaccessible for the majority of people," complained Sarah a backpacker from the UK.