Tips for Climbing Oldonyo Lengai : Ol Doinyo Lengai, a 370,000 years old mountain, one of the few most recently eruptive volcanic mountains found in Tanzania, located approximately 16km in the northwest of Arusha, rising to 2962m high (9718ft) above the sea level. It’s part of the Gregory Rift believed to originally have separated from the Nubian and Somali plates. It’s one of the other things that make Tanzania the richest travel destination. 

Let’s learn its name first!

Ol doinyo Lengai is popularly referred to by the Massai and the Sonjo tribe as the “Mountain of God”, depicting the “abode of god, Engai” They further believe that the Engai withdrew into the mountain after being hit by a hunter with an arrow. Other names that you may hear being used to refer to the mountain include, the Basanjo and Mungogo wa Bongwe just to mention a few. All in all, they all describe the same “Ngai”- The Supreme god showing the extent of importance and majesty that the mountain and its existence mean to the society around.

The majestic mountain doesn’t sit lonely, like other volcanic geographies, Ol Doinyo Lengai sits in the company of two main cones with respective Northern and Southern craters:

The Ol Doinyo Lengai’s Northern crater- is the one known for a recent historical-era eruption and the Southern one which remains relatively dormant in comparison to her brother or sister if you like!

The Northern crater is proud of her active nature covered with lava flows, which vividly active boiling lava can be heard bubbling in the background as well as white volcanic ashes deposits over the slopes. The southern crater on the other hand humbly sits filled with water depicting its cool nature.

In Unison, they all live with their cousin’s cones, also called satellite cones namely the Nasira, Dorrobo and the eastern flank, Ketumbein, Shombole and Kerimasi.

When did Oldonyo Lengai Volcano last erupt?

The recent activity was observed between the years 2007-2008 which is pretty recent in the timeline of mountain eruptions. During the time, a Natrocarbonatite material was observed to be typically effusive than the ordinary eruptive nature of molten lava material. This is particularly unique in a sense that, in the world of volcanic molten lava temperatures, at a temperature of 500-600 degrees Celsius, it’s considered pretty cold! ……. I know right!

Furthermore, the peculiar change in color of the molten Natrocarbonatite after being exposed to oxygen in the atmosphere and water from white to grey to reddish-brown and then to black is amongst the things that solidifies the faith of the local people that indeed the mountain has an Engai in it.

Tips for Climbing Oldonyo Lengai
Tips for Climbing Oldonyo Lengai

So, what if you want to climb it?

Are you a resilient mountain person who wants to take a challenge of a unique height? This is typically the kind that you should embark on!

But what do you need? A headlamp! We will come back to it to explain why!!

The hike is usually done for 6-9 hours depending on the mountain hiking experience and the weather, sometimes it gets really windy and slow you down a bit. The 9-hour hike will be placed in your hiking itinerary such that you will summit at about mid-night, purposely for you to see the stars decorating the sky and wake up to catch the beautiful sunrise as you prepare for your descent or while actually descending.

At this juncture, you must have figure that, a head lamp is indeed a vital tool for you,

Alongside the headlamp, you want to carry a good-volume kind of water bottle, it can get up to 30 Celsius degree and so that with the physical strenuous effort can lead to dehydration, the least of things you want in addition to the challenge the slope will give you!

A trekking pole comes in very handy literally. Some people do without it, but some recommend it especially when down trekking with your unbelievably betraying shaky limbs with barely any balance. At the end of it, when you reach your lodge and have that refreshing shower, you will thank your resilient self for hanging in there, a totally worth it sacrifice to make. Also, the spotting of wildebeest and baboons will soothe your sore-muscle reminding you of the riches of the place you are exploring.

For an even fancier hike, an altimeter helps you to know just how much more you have, a cool way to appreciate your effort and keep you through the completion of your challenge!

A precaution, a volcanic mountain like Lengai emits Sulphur dioxide from its various vents, an unpleasant to inhale especially while still acclimatizing with the altitude, therefore it’s very important you avoid gorges and dips while embarking on the slopes always allowing a blow away of the bad air and a rinse of a cool clean air for yourselves.

Climbing Oldonyo Lengai

The most awaited explanation is of course the cost! Well it ranges from 100 USD to 110USD per person. The lucky part is you don’t have to have a permit to climb it as long as you have the visa, you are good to go on a Tanzania Safari

Close to the Lengai, is a pink lake, the Natron!

Camouflaged by the enormous number of flamingos stretches a high alkaline Salt Lake, the Natron. It appears so given the habitat by the salt comfortable birds, and the salt feeding bacteria, the cyanobacteria. A fauna that photosynthesizes using a pink reddish-brown pigment and the sun light just like plants.

Along its banks are the nests of the flamingos, constantly reproducing and enjoying the Ngiro River fed Natron. During a dry season though, the Natron gets extremely hot up to 40 Celsius degrees hot, with a pH greater than 12 which incidentally kills the flamingos and mummify them in the salt marshes! 

book a safari