The Kilimanjaro Ash Pit, located within the Reusch Crater on Mount Kilimanjaro, is a prominent geological feature. This Ash Pit is a small crater that descends into the main Reusch Crater and measures about 140 meters wide and 350 meters (1,150 feet) deep. It was formed during the last volcanic activity on Kilimanjaro, which occurred just over 200 years ago. This event left behind a symmetrical inverted cone of ash, known as the Ash Pit, which is still visible today.

The Ash Pit is a powerful sight and a testament to Kilimanjaro’s volcanic history. It’s located in the innermost Reusch Crater, and encircling Reusch Crater is the Inner Cone. The outermost crater, Kibo Crater, is about 2.5 kilometers wide, and it is on this crater’s rim that you find Uhuru Peak, the tallest point on the entire mountain.

To explore the Ash Pit, confident climbers can undertake a hike from Crater Camp. The journey across the crater floor, past the glaciers, and up the ridge leads to this fascinating geological feature, providing a unique perspective on Kilimanjaro’s volcanic past.

Kilimanjaro ash pitkilimanjaro ash pit hikeAsh pit


Kilimanjaro consists of three volcanic peaks. Shira (3962m), Mawenzi (5149m) and Kibo (5895m). Kibo is the youngest of these three peaks, its most recent activity being in the Pleistocene era.

What remains of both Shira and Mawenzi have been partially covered by volcanic material from Kibo. Only on Kibo can you see the concentric craters still intact.

At the top of Kibo is the Kibo Crater, the main crater you see from the summit and aerial photos. Within the Kibo Crater there is the Reusch Crater, and within this lies the Ash Pit. These three are all visible from the summit on a clear day.

All three are concentric craters, and the Ash Pit forms a perfect circle. The closer you get to the Ash Pit, the stronger the ‘rotten eggs’ smell of sulfur is. Which is not great if you are already feeling a bit nauseous from the altitude!

The Ash Pit is 395ft wide and is composed of shale and large boulders that have rolled down. Fumaroles, vents that emit sulfur and steam are found at the base of the Ash Pit, and it’s estimated that the temperature of these vents is that of boiling water.

The Reusch crater was named after a missionary who famously found a leopard frozen in the snow and cut off its ear as a souvenir. This leopard was the inspiration for the opening lines of Hemingway’s book The Snows of Kilimanjaro.


From the Crater floor, you have to climb up this steep slope to get there! Normally, visiting the Ash Pit requires a night to be spent in Crater Camp. And you’ll only be able to do that if you are well enough acclimatized to sleep at over 18,000 feet. And your operator will have had to make the logistical arrangements for you to do so.

This can be costly, and it’s dangerous to sleep up there. Mostly it’s the high-end operators that offer it, on a longer trek to ensure good acclimatization.

Sometimes an operator will take you to the Ash Pit after you’ve reached the summit before heading back down the mountain. This would only be possible if you were feeling fit, strong, and well-acclimatized.

If you are looking for something a bit more than just getting to the top, then We highly recommend a night in the Crater and a visit to the Ash Pit.

Walking from Crater Camp, it will take about 30-40 minutes to get to the Ash Pit. You hike across the crater floor, past the glaciers, and up the ridge of the Reusch Crater. Once you get there, don’t lean over too far, if you fall this, you won’t be getting out again!


Crater Camp can be accessed either by scaling the Western Breach or hiking from Barafu Camp to Stella Point. If coming from the Western Breach, We would recommend making the extra hike to Summit before sleeping in the crater, rather than leaving it until the following morning.

The few extra meters up to the summit can help with the “walk high, sleep low” acclimatization protocol. It also means that the summit has been scaled and early the next morning, descent is all that’s needed.

Coming from Barafu, most trekkers do a daytime push to the summit, arriving after lunch, before spending the night in Crater Camp Kilimanjaro. spending a night in the Crater was more important than the summit (well, not quite, but almost).


A good operator – even if a night in the crater is scheduled in the itinerary – will check each climber’s condition at the Summit before making a final decision as to who will sleep there.

Many climbers who reach the Summit decide they do not want to take the risk of sleeping so high.

Evacuation from the crater is very difficult. It’s approximately a mile trek to get back to Stella Point, up the crater rim. There are no helicopters here. You should be given the option to descend back to Barafu after a successful Summit.

Unless you’ve come to the Western Breach. Some extremely hardy people have scaled the Western Breach Route, reached the summit, and descended to Barafu camp in one day. And if you are strong (mad!) enough to do that, you are probably strong enough to sleep in the crater!

It’s imperative to have a guide who is well-versed in high-altitude first response. Who knows how to treat an emergency? A Portable Altitude Chamber (gamow bag), as well as oxygen canisters, are highly recommended.


The longest route possible! Typically, climbers use the Lemosho Route, which has a good acclimatization schedule. For the very “tough”, try the Umbwe Route, but add extra days. Some operators on the Machame Route will offer a night at Crater.


Try to visit the the Ash Pit, a perfectly formed volcanic cone. If you can stomach the smell of rotten eggs. Fumaroles blow out malodorous fumes from the center of the mountain, standing atop, looking down into the now dormant, volcano.

We can add an overnight at Crater Camp to any route except the Marangu Route. A special permit is required for the crater camp, additional pay for each staff member who spends overnight in the crater, and private toilet tent(s) are required for the staff.

Crater Camp

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Supplement per person  and Gamow Bag — $300/trek




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Josephat Mashehe is a seasoned Kilimanjaro guide who offers his expertise to those looking to conquer Africa's highest peak. With years of experience under his belt, Josephat provides comprehensive guidance, ensuring a safe and memorable journey for adventurers. His services include detailed planning, safety measures, and on-site assistance, making him an invaluable asset for anyone aiming to tackle the challenging climb of Mount Kilimanjaro.
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