Ascent of Oldonyo Lengai

9 to 13 hours from Lake Natron Camp – Moivaro Camps.

This picture book volcano is the holy mountain of the Maasai people, whose gods are said to reside within (l’Engai means God in Maasai language). Located in the most spectacular location between the Rift Valley Escarpment and Lake Natron, l’Engai is the only volcano in the region to remain active, with plumes of smoke rising from the summit every year or two and considerable eruptions of ash dusting the countryside for miles around more or less every decade.

At the summit the crater contains active fume roles, which spew out acrid gases almost constantly. The ascent of l’Engai is one of the most spectacular single day hikes in Africa. It is tough though and demands a high level of fitness. Starting out from Natron Camp at around 02.00hrs, it is a short drive to the base of the climb at Gazelle Horn.

This is one of those climbs where you can see the summit most of the way and the unremittingly direction is upwards, almost all of the ascent taking place in the dark, timed to hit the crater around dawn, 5 or 6 hours later. About half way up the path disappears and climbers have to pick their way across an open cinder field, which is one of those draining "one step forward, one step back" affairs, as the loose earth gives way underfoot. The final stretch gets considerably steeper.

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The trip back down takes a fraction of the time and you should be getting back in to Natron Camp by around 12.00hrs.For this ascent we use the experienced guide provided by Lake Natron Camp. Climbers need to provide their own head torches. The lodge does not provide equipment, and does not take responsibility for the guide, but the guide can be booked through the lodge (if he is available).

The camp has now disclaimers displayed at reception for clients to acknowledge. The new shape of the mountain is more dangerous than before. Costs are 100 USD per guide (this can differ greatly when booking in the village, where the guides, who differ in experience, can ask you up to five times more).

Please note that as Lengai is an active volcano there may be times when all trekking activities are suspended due to volcanic eruptions. Climbers need to be aware that there are two liability issues here. Firstly, there is no control over the quality of the service provided by the guide from Lake Natron Camp. Your contract with him is made directly.

Lake Natron Tented Camp is unable to accept liability for any failings on the part of the guide or his equipment. Secondly, the use of climbing equipment, although quite incidental to the actual climb, may invalidate your travel insurance, as the difference between insured hiking and non-insured mountaineering is often defined by the use of specialist equipment.



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