To sleep or not to sleep at the Kilimanjaro crater camp
Kibo Crater camp

Sleeping at Kilimanjaro Crater Camp is a rare and exhilarating experience reserved for adventurous trekkers who undertake the challenging journey to the summit of Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro. The Crater Camp is located near the summit of Kilimanjaro, nestled within the caldera of the dormant volcano. See what our clients say about their crater camp experience.

Here are some key points about sleeping at Kilimanjaro Crater Camp:

  1. Altitude:
    • Kilimanjaro Crater Camp is situated at an elevation of approximately 18,800 feet (5,730 meters) above sea level, making it one of the highest campsites on the mountain. Due to the extreme altitude, trekkers may experience symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headache, nausea, and fatigue.
  2. Unique Landscape:
    • The Crater Camp offers trekkers a unique and otherworldly landscape, characterized by rugged terrain, volcanic rocks, and panoramic views of the surrounding crater walls. The campsite is located near the ash pit, a small crater within the main caldera, providing a surreal backdrop for overnight stays.
  3. Cold and Windy Conditions:
    • Sleeping at Kilimanjaro Crater Camp exposes trekkers to cold temperatures and high winds, especially during the night. It is essential to be properly equipped with warm clothing, insulated sleeping bags, and windproof tents to withstand the harsh conditions at this altitude.
  4. Limited Facilities:
    • Kilimanjaro Crater Camp is a primitive campsite with limited facilities compared to lower camps on the mountain. There are no permanent structures or amenities at the camp, and trekkers must rely on the supplies and equipment carried by their trekking team. Portable toilets may be set up, but they are basic and exposed to the elements.
  5. Spectacular Sunrise:
    • One of the highlights of sleeping at Kilimanjaro Crater Camp is witnessing the breathtaking sunrise from the summit of the mountain. As the sun rises above the horizon, it casts a golden glow over the crater rim, illuminating the surrounding landscape in a display of natural beauty that is truly awe-inspiring.
  6. Acclimatization and Safety:
    • Spending a night at Kilimanjaro Crater Camp requires careful acclimatization and adherence to safety protocols to minimize the risk of altitude-related illnesses. Trekkers should follow the guidance of their experienced guides and listen to their bodies to ensure a safe and successful ascent to the summit.

Where is Crater Camp?

The Crater Camp is a campsite positioned near the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. Situated approximately 18,800 feet above the ocean’s surface, it stands in close proximity to Uhuru Peak, which rests at an elevation of 19,340 feet. This campsite is nestled between Uhuru and the Furtwangler Glacier, offering climbers the unique experience of sleeping beside the slowly vanishing glacier.

Which Routes Use Crater Camp?

We guide climbers on different paths at Crater Camp, specifically the Lemosho Route and Northern Circuit routes. However, we choose to do this cautiously and infrequently. Spending the night at such an elevated altitude involves increased danger, surpassing that of reaching the summit and descending.

Book our 9 day Lemosho Route+Crater camp experience

Reaching Kilimanjaro Crater Camp requires careful planning and selection of the right route, as well as allocating sufficient time for acclimatization and the trekking journey. Here are the routes that offer access to Crater Camp and the recommended duration for sleeping at this high-altitude camp:

  1. Lemosho Route:
    • Duration: 7-9 days
    • The Lemosho Route is one of the longer and more scenic routes to the summit of Kilimanjaro, offering ample time for acclimatization and stunning views of the mountain’s diverse landscapes. Trekkers typically spend a night at Crater Camp during the ascent to the summit.
  2. Northern Circuit Route:
    • Duration: 9-10 days
    • The Northern Circuit Route is the longest route on Kilimanjaro, circling around the northern slopes of the mountain and providing excellent acclimatization opportunities. Trekkers on this route often spend a night at Crater Camp before continuing to the summit.

It’s important to note that sleeping at Kilimanjaro Crater Camp is typically included as part of longer itineraries on these routes, which allow for gradual acclimatization and reduce the risk of altitude-related illnesses. Trekkers should consult with experienced guides and trekking operators to choose the most suitable route and itinerary based on their fitness level, experience, and preferences. Additionally, proper physical preparation, acclimatization, and adherence to safety protocols are essential for a successful and enjoyable trek to Crater Camp and the summit of Kilimanjaro.

Why is Staying at Crater Camp Dangerous?

Located at an altitude of approximately 18,800 feet, Crater Camp stands significantly higher than the previous night’s resting point at around 15,000 feet. This significant gain of nearly 4,000 feet poses a considerable challenge for most individuals, making it difficult to adjust to the altitude. Consequently, there is a heightened risk of experiencing altitude sickness, particularly in the evening. If such sickness were to strike, evacuating from near the summit of Kilimanjaro during the night would be an arduous endeavor. Conversely, it is much more manageable for the body to ascend from 15,000 feet to the summit at 19,340 feet and then descend to Mweka at 10,065 feet. Those affected by altitude sickness on the ascent typically recover swiftly as they descend. This stands in stark contrast to the potential consequences of sleeping at an elevation of nearly 19,000 feet.

How Can I Reduce the Risks of Crater Camp?

Certain tour operators take their customers to Crater Camp on shorter 6-7 day routes, which sometimes lead to disastrous outcomes. Tranquil Kilimanjaro® takes a different approach by offering Crater Camp options exclusively on their longest routes. Moreover, they make a point to spend time at Crater Camp after reaching the summit. These two factors significantly improve acclimatization and subsequently lessen the possibility of Acute Mountain Sickness for their clients. The well-being of climbers is closely monitored throughout the expedition, conducting health checks twice daily. Only those who have adapted well to the high altitude at the base camp before attempting the summit are permitted to stay at Crater Camp. Due to the heightened risks associated with staying at Crater Camp, trips involving this destination are only available upon specific request and are subject to the approval of Tranquil Kilimanjaro. However, don’t be disheartened. Crater Camp offers a truly enchanting experience.

Crater Camp with Tranquil Kilimanjaro

I was able to sneak a quick peek at the Operating Manual that the company gives to its guides. The manual is very detailed, with a strong focus on ensuring safety, satisfying customers, and prioritizing the well-being of the staff.

Which Route?

This will vary based on personal preference. Quicker climbs often take more direct paths that offer less time for acclimatization and are less visually appealing. Different tour companies promote different routes through their websites, and the scenery can vary greatly across these routes. Some routes involve straightforward ascents through jungle, desert, and snowy peaks (which some may find uninteresting). In contrast, our chosen route (Lemosho) was much more engaging and picturesque, featuring extraordinary plant life in the Barranco Valley and the opportunity to climb the Barranco wall. Additionally, we reached the Lava Tower at 4600m, serving as a crucial acclimatization point since it is at the same elevation as Barafu base camp. Less reputable, budget-friendly operators often prefer quicker routes to maximize their profits. However, these faster routes tend to have lower success rates and, even if you do reach the summit, you may face greater difficulties or discomfort without the benefits of acclimatization provided by other routes.

Crater Camp or Not?

Considerable thought and contemplation were invested before making our booking. Countless online sources paint a rather gloomy picture of Crater Camp, highlighting the perils of Altitude Sickness and the bone-chilling conditions. However, our personal experience proved that Crater Camp was an exceptional choice, one that I would gladly make again if ever I were to embark on the Kili adventure once more. One of the remarkable advantages of Crater Camp is that you are spared the early morning rise at midnight for your summit attempt. Additionally, you are not required to immediately descend upon reaching the summit. We encountered numerous individuals who had opted for the customary midnight ascent (primarily to catch the breathtaking sunrise), and they bemoaned the challenges of a nocturnal trek, including the bitter cold preceding daybreak. Without the privilege of Crater Camp, you would likely arrive at camp in the afternoon, after an exhausting day of trekking. You would hurriedly partake in dinner, endeavoring to secure six measly hours of sleep before waking at midnight for your summit bid. Subsequently, you would navigate through darkness and frigid temperatures alongside a throng of roughly 100-150 determined souls yearning to witness the sunrise. Once there, after snapping a few obligatory photos, you would promptly retrace your steps, commencing an arduous 2-4 hour descent (depending on your sleeping camp). We witnessed a multitude of individuals who necessitated assistance to descend, as they had depleted their energy reserves during the trek. Contrast this misery with the wondrous experience offered by Crater Camp. You have the luxury of sleeping in, leisurely rising around 8am. Consequently, you are well-rested from the previous day’s trekking endeavors. Ascending without the chaotic traffic from the nocturnal ascent, you are afforded a tranquil journey to the summit, potentially basking in the solitude of the peak. After accomplishing this feat, you can relax in your cozy tent or perhaps take a leisurely stroll to the crater in the afternoon. Following a restful night, you commence your descent. We had the chance to admire the crater in the morning before embarking on our downward journey. Even in the face of our age difference (my son, 24, and myself, 52), we did not experience any significant discomfort at Crater Camp, aside from a mild headache upon arrival, which I attributed to the exertion of reaching Stella Point on our way to the summit. Both of us slept soundly, snug in our warm sleeping bags, bolstered by two layers of thermal clothing. After our summit, there was a moment when my oxygen saturation briefly dropped to 65%. However, thanks to the deep breathing exercises I had diligently practiced beforehand, I swiftly regained control, quickly returning to 85% oxygen saturation with a heart rate of 78 beats per minute. The training I underwent with an altitude mask paid off tremendously. Another fascinating aspect of staying at Crater Camp is the opportunity it affords your porters to summit. Ordinarily, only the guides ascend alongside the clients. However, we were accompanied by three experienced porters, who had been supporting trekkers for years. It was their inaugural summit, an extremely gratifying experience for both them and us!

Food on the Trek?

If your trekking company is reputable, they will take good care of your food needs. They provide ample amounts of food, enough to feed four people at most meals. This is to ensure that you eat and drink enough to combat Altitude Sickness. The meals provided are generally simple yet delicious, and there is always plenty to go around. On some days, you may even be treated to a cooked lunch, while on others, you might receive a packed lunch if it’s a particularly long day of walking. You won’t need to bring excessive amounts of food with you. Instead, pack some energy bars or muesli bars, along with a sufficient supply of hydrolyte. We found that we only consumed these bars if we felt hungry during the night or wanted a snack in the afternoon. The hydrolytes are crucial for helping your body absorb water effectively. We personally brought camel backs and two additional water bottles to ensure hydration. On the days when I was most thirsty, I managed to drink up to 8 liters of liquid, although on average it was closer to around 5 liters.

What Training and Fitness is Required?

I dedicated significant effort towards preparing for the Kili expedition. Shedding the extra weight is no simple task. The recommended starting point for training is at least three months prior. To accomplish this, I primarily utilized a treadmill and an Iron Edge altitude mask. Each day, I devoted roughly 2-3 hours to walking at a pace of 5.5km per hour. A noteworthy portion of this time was spent at the maximum incline to replicate the challenging conditions of the trek. For a comprehensive training experience, it is advisable to incorporate the use of hiking boots and even a backpack weighing around 5-7 kg. Additionally, incorporating a bit of jogging into the routine is beneficial, aiming to run at least 2.5 kilometers in a span of 15 minutes. To enhance fitness levels and expedite recovery, I strongly recommend incorporating the beep test into the training regimen. Reflecting upon my experience, one aspect I would include in my future training regime is preparing for the descent. As part of the expedition, there were two days spent descending approximately 22 kilometers with a steep decline of 30 degrees. This descent left us with intensely sore thighs for several days afterward.

Is it Difficult?

Do not be deceived, this journey is challenging. A single day plagued by a stomach ailment, a twisted ankle, or a cut forehead from a fall could intensify the difficulty. If such an occurrence takes place (I personally experienced a two-day bout of stomach discomfort), it becomes mentally grueling. There is no allowance to take an extra day off if you are feeling unwell. You must persevere and continue ascending or choose to descend! Reaching the summit at Stella Point is exceptionally demanding. Conquering Mount Kilimanjaro will undoubtedly be one of the most arduous tasks you ever undertake, yet it will also be incredibly memorable, instilling a profound sense of accomplishment. If you are interested in residing at Crater Camp, kindly reach out to us to make arrangements for your climb.

Pros and Cons of sleeping at the crater camp

Sleeping at Kilimanjaro Crater Camp offers a unique and memorable experience for trekkers, but it also comes with its own set of advantages and challenges. Here are some pros and cons of sleeping at Crater Camp:


  1. Unique Experience: Sleeping at Crater Camp provides trekkers with the opportunity to spend a night within the caldera of Mount Kilimanjaro, offering a rare and unforgettable experience that few visitors to the mountain get to enjoy.
  2. Breathtaking Views: The campsite offers panoramic views of the surrounding crater walls and the expansive landscape below. Trekkers can witness stunning sunrises and sunsets from this high-altitude vantage point, creating lasting memories of the natural beauty of Kilimanjaro.
  3. Sense of Achievement: Reaching Crater Camp signifies a significant milestone in the trekking journey, as it is located near the summit of Kilimanjaro. Sleeping at this altitude is a testament to the trekkers’ determination, resilience, and physical endurance.
  4. Quiet and Remote: Crater Camp is relatively secluded and tranquil compared to lower camps on the mountain. Trekkers can enjoy the serenity of the high-altitude environment, surrounded by the raw beauty of the volcanic landscape.


  1. Extreme Altitude: Crater Camp is situated at an elevation of approximately 18,800 feet (5,730 meters) above sea level, exposing trekkers to the risks of altitude sickness and related symptoms, such as headache, nausea, and fatigue.
  2. Cold and Harsh Conditions: Sleeping at Crater Camp exposes trekkers to cold temperatures and high winds, especially during the night. The lack of shelter and amenities can make the camping experience challenging, requiring proper equipment and clothing to stay warm and comfortable.
  3. Limited Facilities: Crater Camp is a primitive campsite with limited facilities, such as basic tents and portable toilets. Trekkers must rely on the supplies and equipment carried by their trekking team, and amenities may be sparse compared to lower camps on the mountain.
  4. Risk of Altitude-related Illnesses: Spending a night at Crater Camp requires careful acclimatization and adherence to safety protocols to minimize the risk of altitude-related illnesses. Trekkers should be vigilant and aware of the signs and symptoms of altitude sickness, and be prepared to descend if necessary.

Sleeping at Kilimanjaro Crater Camp offers trekkers a once-in-a-lifetime experience of camping at high altitude within the caldera of Africa’s highest peak. While it provides breathtaking views and a sense of achievement, it also presents challenges such as extreme altitude, harsh conditions, and limited facilities that must be carefully considered and prepared.

Special permits and requirements to sleep at crater camp

To sleep at Kilimanjaro Crater Camp, trekkers require a special permit and must meet certain requirements set by the Kilimanjaro National Park authority. Here are the specific permit and requirements:

  1. Crater Camp Permit:
    • Trekkers must obtain a special permit from the Kilimanjaro National Park authority to camp at Kilimanjaro Crater Camp. This permit is in addition to the standard trekking permit required for ascending Kilimanjaro.
    • The Crater Camp permit is typically included as part of specialized itineraries offered by authorized trekking companies or tour operators.
    • How much does the crater camp permit cost?

      The fees required for the rescue fee is $20 for every hiker participating in each expedition. If you choose to camp inside the crater, there is an extra charge of $100 per person per night. Additionally, entrance fees for guides, cooks, and porters must also be paid, which amounts to $2 per person in the group.

  2. High Altitude Experience:
    • Due to the extreme altitude of Kilimanjaro Crater Camp (approximately 18,800 feet or 5,730 meters above sea level), trekkers are required to have previous high-altitude trekking experience.
    • The Kilimanjaro National Park authority may require evidence of prior high-altitude trekking experience or completion of other challenging mountain climbs.
  3. Guided Trekking:
    • Trekkers are required to be accompanied by experienced guides and porters for the duration of the trek, including the ascent to Crater Camp. Authorized trekking companies or tour operators provide trained and knowledgeable guides who assist with navigation, safety, and logistics.
    • Guides are responsible for ensuring the well-being of trekkers, monitoring for signs of altitude sickness, and providing assistance as needed.
  4. Health and Fitness:
    • Trekkers must be in good health and physical condition to undertake the challenging ascent to Kilimanjaro Crater Camp. They should undergo a medical evaluation before embarking on the trek to assess their fitness level and suitability for high-altitude trekking.
    • Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, such as heart disease, respiratory disorders, or pregnancy, are advised to consult with a healthcare provider before attempting to climb Kilimanjaro.
  5. Acclimatization:
    • Adequate acclimatization is essential for safely ascending to Kilimanjaro Crater Camp and minimizing the risk of altitude-related illnesses. Trekking itineraries should include gradual altitude gains, rest days, and sufficient time for the body to adjust to the thin air at high altitude.
    • Trekkers should follow recommended acclimatization guidelines and listen to their bodies, ascending slowly and staying hydrated to avoid altitude sickness.

By obtaining the necessary permit and meeting the requirements set by the Kilimanjaro National Park authority, trekkers can embark on a safe and memorable journey to sleep at Kilimanjaro Crater Camp, experiencing the unique beauty and challenge of camping within the caldera of Africa’s highest peak.


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