Oldoinyo Lengai is a volcano in the Eastern Rift Valley, North Tanzania. Its name means 'Mountain of God' in the language of the Maasai people who inhabit this area. Oldoinyo Lengai is of particular interest to geologists because it is the world's only active volcano that erupts natrocarbonatite lava. It is also the only active volcano in this part of the East African Rift Valley, though there are many older extinct volcanoes in this region. Oldoinyo Lengai raises about 2000 meters above the Rift Valley floor to a height of approximately 2886 meters.
A number of people climb Oldoinyo Lengai each year. It is not a technical climb, but it is a very demanding and sometimes dangerously steep walk and scramble. You should be fit, strong and above all VERY determined. Everyone who has climbed has their own experience to tell and their own advice to give.
It takes 8 to 12 hours to climb to the top from where there are spectacular views of the rift valley and the lake. The ascent is not easy: it is steep and there is no shade. Normally the climb starts in the early hours of the morning.
Itinerary for Mt. Oldoinyo Lengai:
Arrive Lake Natron. Briefing on the climb. Overnight Lake Natron Camp.
Start at midnight for the half hour drive to the trail head (13 kms) and commence the climb. There will be a hot drink and biscuits either at the camp or just before starting the climb. Take plenty of water. The climb of the active volcano takes 8 to 12 hours and is a long steep climb in very hot conditions if an early start is not taken. At the summit, the view from the top of Lengai over the Rift Valley is spectacular, particularly with views of the sunrise. Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru are usually visible (two of the five highest peaks in Africa). A guide must accompany climbers. If you feel up to it after the climb, there is a short hike up the Engare Sero gorge to the waterfalls. They are well worth visiting. Overnight Lake Natron Camp.
An alternative is to do a night climb starting at 5 p.m. but this should be done at full moon or a few days either side of it. Camping at the summit is possible but is not advisable as it can be extremely cold and windy. Extra porters will be required to carry supplies and equipment.
For those that want a less active day, there is the opportunity to visit the eastern side of Lake Natron. This is a very interesting area well off the tourist route with mountain streams flowing from the base of Mt. Gelai; there are opportunities of seeing large flocks of flamingos as well as good herds of zebra, wildebeest and gazelle. Also optional is to hike up the Engare Sero Gorge to the waterfalls or up other gorges in the area.
Depart after breakfast.