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Crater Camp on Kilimanjaro

Crater Camp sits at 5790 meters/18,000 ft on Mt. Kilimanjaro. It’s by far the highest camp on the mountain. 95 percent of all climbers that climb Kilimanjaro DO NOT spend the night at Crater Camp.

Why do they not go to Crater Camp?

First: Most porters climb only to Barafu Camp or Lava Tower Hut, which is around 4600 meters/15,000 feet. Afterward, they meet you down at Millennium Camp or Mweka Camp. If you want to spend the night in the Crater, you need to make sure all your porters are ready for the kind of elevation. And, you should plan this advance.

Second: Because you take your porters and guides that high on the mountain, there generally is an added cost. It takes a lot more time, work and energy to have a night on top of the mountain. It can range between $300 to $500 more per person, per night for spending the night that high on the mountain. This is an additional cost to your planned itinerary. Some people can absorb the cost by cutting a day out on Machame, but it’s not recommended.

Third: You need good equipment for spending the night on Kilimanjaro. You need to be able to melt water, have very good four season tents, and be ready to deal with extreme conditions. Your porters should have all the equipment to deal with ice, snow, and bad weather.

Fourth: It’s just very high. Some people don’t like to sleep that high because of the altitude. It can take a lot more time to get off the mountain if something happens at the height.

Should you spend the night at Crater Camp?
If money isn’t an issue, you are somewhat of a good mountain climber, you have Diamox, and you don’t mind some extreme altitude camping, then it’s great to sleep that high on the mountain. You get to watch the sunrise over the Great Rift Valley and you get an easy 1-hour climb up to the summit of Kilimanjaro, instead of a grueling eight-hour hike in the middle of the night.

The choice is your, just make sure you are prepared.

By Peter Baxter | Permalink | 1 comment | April 3rd, 2006
Tags: Opinion, Routes up Kilimanjaro
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By Ed Abell | April 4th, 2006

My 17 year old son and I designed our trip to scale the Western Breach and over night on the crater. I’d read enough mountain climbing books over the years, I had to experience it. I didn’t fancy the midnight slog from Barafu.
Our outfitter was prepared and we had sleeping bags rated to -20 degrees.
After the reaffirmation of life experience cresting the Breach we wandered the crater top over the show fields and viewed the Reusch Crater and we have stunning images of the glaciers.
Our bags kept us warm but we didn’t sleep. If we fell in to deep sleep we were jolted awake with the feeling of suffication.
A common altitude effect. My son and I talked all night and when we went out to pee the glaciers were illuminated in a cobalt blue with the millions of stars just out of reach.
We would jump back into our warm bags and revel in the fact we were on top of Kilimanjaro!
It was a night we battled a common foe (alitiude effect) and bonded beyond the spoken word…unforgetable.
It’s not a place you really go to sleep as much as experience.
That night and the Breach climb remain the coolest thing we have ever done.


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