At 2,980 m (and still growing), it's the highest active volcano in Tanzania, and although it's half the height of Kilimanjaro

Ol Doinyo Lengai Mountain

  • Last eruption: 2023 AD
  • Elevation: 2,962 m
  • Coordinates: 2°45′50″S 35°54′50″E / 2.764°S 35.914°E

Adventure to Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano: Exploring the Active Volcano and Lake Natron

For those with a passion for adventure and a fascination with geological marvels, hike Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano is a must-do experience. This volcanic wonder in Tanzania, near the picturesque Lake Natron, offers a one-of-a-kind journey filled with stunning scenery, tough climbs, and captivating geological features. Here are the essential details to prepare you for this extraordinary adventure ot Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano.

1. The Unique Black Lava of Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano

Referred to as the “Mountain of God” in the Maasai language, Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano is renowned for its exceptional black lava. Unlike conventional silicate-rich volcanic lava, this volcano’s lava is natrocarbonatite, which is notably darker and cooler. This distinctive type of lava, filled with sodium and potassium carbonates, flows at lower temperatures, resulting in its striking dark appearance.

2. The Challenging Climb of Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano

Ascending Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano is not for the faint of heart. The steep climb is complicated by loose volcanic ash and rocks, making the journey arduous. Most hikers commence their ascent at night to reach the summit by sunrise, avoiding the scorching daytime temperatures. Depending on your fitness level and pace, the hike typically takes 5-7 hours uphill and 4-5 hours downhill. Adequate preparation, including good physical condition, proper equipment, and a knowledgeable guide, is crucial for a successful climb.

3. Altitude and Location

At an elevation of approximately 2,962 meters (9,718 feet), Ol Doinyo Lengai provides breathtaking panoramic vistas of the Great Rift Valley and Lake Natron. Situated at latitude 2.764°S and longitude 35.914°E in northern Tanzania, this remote and untouched region offers a genuinely wild and authentic expedition.

4. The Active Status of the Volcano

Among the few active volcanoes in Africa, Ol Doinyo Lengai displayed significant eruptions in 2007-2008 and continues to exhibit signs of activity, with minor eruptions and fumarolic events occurring frequently. This ongoing volcanic activity adds an element of thrill and unpredictability to the climb, setting it apart from climbs of dormant volcanoes.

5. Cultural Significance and Myths

The Maasai community, residing near Ol Doinyo Lengai, venerates the mountain for its spiritual significance, believing it to be the holy abode of their god Engai. According to local legends, the volcanic eruptions and distinctive black lava are manifestations of the deity’s power. This cultural aspect imbues the climb with a profound sense of connection to local heritage and traditions.

Practical Insights of Ol Doinyo lengai Volcano

  • Ol Doinyo Lengai’s Map: Studying a map of the area is advisable to grasp the terrain and plan your path, with topographical maps being particularly beneficial.
  • The Age of Ol Doinyo Lengai: Although the exact age of the volcano is not definitively known, it is relatively young in geological terms, forming within the last few hundred thousand years.
  • Nighttime Exploration of Ol Doinyo Lengai: Embarking on the hike at night provides a cooler and safer ascent, with the added bonus of witnessing a mesmerizing sunrise from the summit, illuminating the vast landscapes below.
  • Position on a Convergent Boundary: Unlike many volcanoes, Ol Doinyo Lengai is not located on a convergent boundary but is part of the East African Rift system, a divergent boundary splitting the African plate into the Somali and Nubian plates.

Embarking on a hiking expedition to Ol Doinyo Lengai offers more than just a physical challenge; it’s a journey into a realm of geological marvels and cultural significance. Whether you’re an experienced climber or an inquisitive traveler, the adventure is bound to be both demanding and immensely fulfilling. Prepare adequately, honor local customs, and relish the voyage through one of Earth’s most captivating volcanic landscapes.

There are many options though available to the adventurous.

Day 1 - Arusha - Lake Natron (Ngare Sero) ...  Day 2 - Lake Natron - Ngare Sero to Ol Doinyo Lengai. ...  Day 3 - Ol Doinyo Lengai summit and back to Lake Natron campsite. ...  Day 4 - Lake Natron - Arusha Tow



Day 1 – Arusha – Lake Natron (Ngare Sero)

Departing Arusha in the morning you drive to Mtu-wa Mbu (Lake Manyara) for lunch. After lunch you drive north along the bottom of the Great Rift Valley wall to Lake Natron and the village of Ngare Sero at the base of Ol Doinyo Lengai. Overnight at a campsite by the lake.

Day 2 – Lake Natron – Ngare Sero to Ol Doinyo Lengai

From Lake Natron to Ngare Sero is a 3-hour walk. Lengai is best approached from the west. Between Ngare Sero and Lengai’s lower slopes is another 3 hours walk. The vehicle will go o¬n ahead here so that it is there to take you up this large gully and so saving you at least 6 hours of walking. Overnight camp in the gully.

Day 3 – Ol Doinyo Lengai summit and back to Lake Natron campsite

A very early start in order to gain as much height as possible in the cool of the morning. Sun hats and a large water in-take are essential. Descend by the same route.
Great care should be taken on the way down: loose volcanic gravel on bare rock makes it perilous going in places. Overnight at the Lake Natron camp site.

Day 4 – Lake Natron – Arusha Town

Departing after breakfast you drive back to Arusha town. Drop-off.

What’s Included?

  • Transport
  • Ranger/guide
  • Porters
  • Park fees
  • Hut fees
  • Rescue fees
  • Cook
  • Meals
  • Tea and coffee

(1) Comment

  1. Kili_travel

    thanks a lot

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