Is it Dangerous to Camp in Kilimanjaro’s Crater?

Kilimanjaro’s cop out zone

On Kilimanjaro the one thing that separates the average guide from the well-trained professionals is their willingness to take clients camping in Kilimanjaro’s crater at 18,700 feet.

Camping in Kilimanjaro's Crater

This is a grey area, literally and figuratively. It’s a frigid, forbidding place where you will likely get insomnia and possibly altitude sickness, but for the few who do camp there it’s the highlight of their climb.

Most companies don’t send their crews to the crater because of the extra costs of sleeping there. But the main reason is that most guides do not have the training to keep their climbers safe at this altitude. Most climbing companies don’t offer the crater as an option, citing safety as an excuse for not doing so.

While some outfits offer it, the guides will say it’s not safe at the last minute at the crater rim, and send their clients back to Barafu camp. The dishonest excuse they give is that it’s too hard for the climbers or they are not well enough to spend a night in the crater. The truth is they never intended to take them to Crater Camp.

No Excuses, let’s do it

Tusker prides itself on camping in the crater on its 12 day Kilimanjaro climbs. It’s a chance to camp between glaciers and peer into the caldera’s 400 foot deep ash pit that is rarely seen. If you ever wanted to camp on the moon this is your chance.

We have had hundreds of our clients camp in the crater,” Tusker founder Eddie Frank says. “Other companies say it’s unsafe to sleep in the crater but that’s an excuse and not honest. It’s safe if your guides know how to monitor the health of your climbers all the way to the summit – not just when they fall ill from altitude. AMS doesn’t erupt quickly in the crater; it’s a slow buildup from lack of acclimatizing. They’re evading the truth.”

The bigger issue

The big issue on Kilimanjaro is the level of high altitude medical training of a company’s guides. If they have been properly trained they should be able to monitor their clients all day during their climb, looking for symptoms of AMS and treat it well before they reach the summit. Tusker puts its guides through regular specialized five day altitude medical course that none of its competitors can match.

Your guides must know what to look for throughout the climb. After monitoring our climbers, we know whether or not they’ll do well in the crater. If a guide is well trained with lots of experience he should be able to treat or evacuate a climber well before any emergency in the crater.”

Landing on the moon atop Africa

The crater is not for everyone. At night temps can be as low as -15 deg C., but for those who brave the long night it is well worth it. The photo ops are unparalleled, juxtaposing the ashen floor with the luminescent glaciers, set on a 1,300 foot wide caldera. There may be no other place to camp on a volcanic lunar landscape all alone without the crowds.

Kilimanjaro’s crater is the highest campsite on any Tusker trek and Eddie has the confidence in his team to take you there safely.

You can land safely on the moon atop Africa, if you have the best guide support with you.

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There Are 6 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Avatar for Tusker Trail Pierre Bessette says:

    I had the privilege of spending the night at Crater Camp on the July 2016 12 -day Lemosho trip at age 65. Enjoying every minute with no symptoms. Based on the previous posts, to a certain point, age is not a limitation. Tusker Trails make it easier with an excellent pre-trip preparation package that has to be coupled with a personal commitment to follow the advices of the guidebook and the excellent guides during the trip.
    A once in a lifetime experience. Do take your time and enjoy!

  2. Avatar for Tusker Trail Kathy King says:

    I camped in the crater in Feb 2008 as there was a full moon that night. Awesome, but cold experience. I did get altitude sickness. I felt euphoric and giddy. At first I chalked it up to my happiness at making the summit. Turned out it was more than that. Our guides were on it! I had oxygen and periodic check-ins all night long. I descended the next day. No problems.

  3. Avatar for Tusker Trail Joe Moore says:

    On Christmas Eve 2006, our group of 6 trekers, camped in the crater in about a foot or more of fresh snow before going slowly and carefully up the head wall on December 25. The Tusker guides, Tobias, Kombe and Charles shepherded all of us safely through the most astounding experience of our lives. Our group, the youngest, a 48 year old woman MS patient and the oldest, her 66 year old husband, a 60 year old couple and 2 solo travelers in their 50’s were very greatful and proud of the accomplishments. Almost all other groups with other outfitters had abandoned the effort during that very cold, snowy winter climb. Tusker was spectacular.

  4. Avatar for Tusker Trail John Gates says:

    Are your guides also Wilderness 1st responder trained

  5. Avatar for Tusker Trail Douglas Borchert says:

    On my Tusker trek, the guides got me to the top as a solo trekker who could not keep up with the other two trekkers in my group and then we camped in the crater. During the night my water bottle ,which I was using to urinate in, spilled. The guides got me a new bag and made certain that I was warm and safe. Very professional behavior which allowed me to achieve my goal at 64.

  6. Avatar for Tusker Trail jo ann creore says:

    Camped in the crater at age 73. Wonderful experience. Couldn’t have done it without the expertise of my guide.

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