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Ol Donyo Lengai, 2878m (9650ft)

Note: On 30th March 2006 Lengai erupted. 3000 people have been evacuated from nearby villages and there was a temporary ban on visiting the area. The ban has now been removed and the area and Lengai are open to visitors. However we now only arrange trips to Lengai on special request if conditions allow.

This is an active volcano in northern Tanzania lying just south of Lake Natron. 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. To the south stretch the Crater Highlands and the Ngorongoro Game Reserve. The eastern horizon is dominated by Kilimanjaro and to the west the forested escarpments and hills comprising the western slopes of the Rift Valley. About every seven years Lengai erupts and plumes of smoke billow out of the crater. Almost always it is possible to walk across the crater floor, often 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 and considerable height gain, 1600m. or just over 5000ft. Starting at midnight from Lake Natron it is just possible to reach the summit by dawn at a gentle pace. Although shorts and a warm jacket are suitable for the ascent, long trousers might be more pleasant as the summit just before dawn can be cold. Our access route from the north-west allows an early descent to be made from the summit in the morning shadow.

From Moshi it is best to allow three days for the trip, but it could just be done in 2 days (it takes about 7 hours to drive from Moshi to Ngare Sero). We offer a fully guided climb, the trip is suitable for a fit mountain walker with some scrambling experience. 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.
Mountain Cuisine: The menus for all climbs are specially prepared to provide a balanced diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, plenty of protein and carbohydrates. We have tried to choose food items that are easiest to digest at high altitude. Our cooks undergo extensive training and we have ongoing workshops to review menus. The cooks are particularly vigilant in  their hygiene practices as contracting stomach bugs is common for visitors to the developing world.

Dinners are typically a main course with vegetable and salad. Chicken and fish are served at some of the days during the climb, with pastas and rice dishes being served in the middle of the climb while up high. Lunches are often on the trail and usually consist of cold cuts and  vegetables laid out on a table so you can make your own sandwich. Fresh  hot vegetable soups are served at every meal, and packet soup is  available on request between meals as is coffee and tea. Breakfast is  your choice: granola, toast, fruit, eggs, and sometimes pancakes or French toast. While hiking some people have a favorite snack that they like; it is a good idea to bring this from home.

Fit to trek. The Machame Route is a strenuous, but not technical, climb and no mountain-climbing experience is necessary. But there's no avoiding the steep ascents and high altitudes that make robust physical fitness (and a minimum age of 16 years) a prerequisite for this trip. You'll want to consult your physician before undertaking this unforgettable adventure. Alternative independent itineraries. These include the more remote anddemanding Rongai, Shira, Umbwe and Western Breach routes - ask for details.

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