Ol Donyo Lengai

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Ol Donyo Lengai

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Ol Donyo Lengai
Grade C/D Fully porter supported  
Ol Donyo Lengai, 2878m (9650ft), is an active volcano in northern Tanzania. It is located in the Rift Valley, in the heart of Masaai country, and locally regarded as a sacred mountain. Looking north from its summit crater the hot barren salt flats of Lake Natron stretch into the distance, beyond lies the Kenyan border. The day temperatures by the lake often exceed 40°C (100°F), few animals survive here and only the flamingo makes the lake its home, nesting on the salty surface on upraised mounds where slightly cooler air stops its eggs getting fried! To the south stretch the Crater Highlands, Ngorongoro being one of the prime game parks in Africa. The eastern horizon is dominated by Kilimanjaro and to the west the forested escarpments and hills comprising the western slopes of the Great African Rift Valley. Almost without fail, about every seven years Lengai erupts and plumes of smoke billow out of the crater. At other times it is possible to walk down into the crater, almost to the edge of the molten lavas. The ascent of Lengai is demanding on account of the day time heat, lack of water, steep and unstable slopes of ash and crumbly rocks. An early start is recommended and the best approach is from the west where the morning sun can be avoided for a while.

From Moshi it is best to allow almost a day to reach the Ngare Sero campsite below the mountain which could be ascended and descended in one day. Some might prefer a cool bivouac on the summit. We offer a fully guided climb. A suggested minimum itinerary could be:

  1. Drive from Moshi to Lake Manyara, game drive, camp at Twiga.
  2. Drive to Ngare Sero campsite. Walk up to the Ngare Sero source - a magnificent rock amphitheatre with springs gushing out of the rock faces.
  3. Midnight start, drive to the base of the climb, walk to the summit (allow 5 hrs). If possible descend into the active crater then walk down. Lunch at Ngare Sero. Drive back to Moshi.

Lengai from the west (John Cederholm)

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