Mt Ol Doinyo Lengai (or Oldoinyo Lengai) is a perfectly conical, active volcano just to the south of Lake Natron. The highest point of Ol Doinyo Lengai is on its crater rim and is 3,188 m (10,459 ft) above sea level. The crater itself is over 200 m deep and the lava inside it bubbles away at around 500ºC.
An exciting challenge on offer to the ambitious hiker is summiting Mt Ol Doinyo Lengai. As it’s so hot to climb during the day, many choose to hike it overnight. Starting at 10 pm, your Maasai guide leads you up the mountain. The hike to the summit takes about six hours, and the descent takes about the same. You should be back at the base of the mountain mid-morning. You’re then driven back to your camp for a hearty breakfast and well-earned splash in the pool!
The lower portion of the trail mostly consists of loose soil. Higher up you’re tackling some grass tufts, compressed ash, hardened lava, and loose gravel. Note that the top half of the climb is very steep. Very steep. And you’re climbing in the dark, guided by the light from your headlamp. So it’s not at all a hike for the anxious! Trekking poles are useful for the descent.
Standing on the meter-wide crater rim and gazing into the fearsome, Sulphur-emitting crater is both a heady and mesmerizing experience. And the expansive views from Ol Doinyo Lengai of the Rift Valley as the rising sun illuminates the landscape are absolutely amazing.