Ol'doinyo Mountain (Mountain of God -Maasa Language)

Tanzania's active volcano mountain is much more than incredible adventure.

"Oldoinyo Lengai" means “The Mountain of God” in the Maasai language. The summit of this strato-volcano is 2962 metres above sea level, and affords direct views into the caldera of Tanzania’s only officially-certified active volcano, and the world’s only carbonatite volcano; records of eruptions have been maintained since 1883, the largest of which deposited ash 100 kilometres away in Loliondo on the Kenyan border to the north west.

Oldoinyo Lengai Volcano (2962m) is the only volcano to erupt sodium carbonatite lavas in historical times. These lavas have a significantly lower melting point (around 500'C) than “normal” silicate lavas (around 1200'C) and their weak incandescence can only be observed at night. Documented activity is characterized by short explosive eruptions of predominantly silicate ashes which leave a funnel-shaped crater, followed by an eruptive pause and then a phase of intracrater activity involving intermittent effusion of carbonatite (soda) lavas. The penultimate effusive phase documented herein started in 1983 and completely filled the crater formed by the 1967 explosive eruption. In 2007-2008, another powerful eruptive phase occurred. Low level activity is currently starting to fill the large crater that was formed.

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Oldoinyo Lengai volcano consists

Oldoinyo Lengai strato-volcano consists of various types of peralkaline (Na2O- and K2O-rich) silicate lavas. Two main structural units are recognized. The remains of the initial structure, "Lengai I" form the south flank and much of the base of the volcano and account for 60% of its volume. "Lengai II" is more recent and formed in the scar left behind by a major flank collapse of the N flank of Lengai I about 10000 years ago. It encompasses both of the present craters. Flank collapses feature in the history of many volcanoes and are dealt with in more detail in the sections on Stromboli and Augustine volcanoes. Both "Lengai I and Lengai II" are formed primarily from pyroclastic deposits, suggesting mainly explosive activity during the cone-building phases. Natrocarbonatites, which form less than 5% of the structure (mainly in and around the N crater), appear to be a recent feature of Lengai activity. Lengai I is made of phonolite (14-17% alkaline). Lengai II is predominantly nephelinite (15-21% alkali). These lavas contain between 53 and 43% silicate, with a gradually decreasing trend during evolution of the structure (Klaudius and Keller, 2006 (Lithos 91:173-190)). Although the lavas show a gradual increase in alkalinity and a gradual decrease in silica, they are far removed from natrocarbonatite lavas which have over 40% alkali content and usually less than 0.3% silica..

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"Oldoinyo Lengai"

And it is also a challenging climb. Do not underestimate it! "Oldoinyo Lengai" means “The Mountain of God” in the Maasai language. The summit of this strato-volcano is 2962 metres above sea level, and affords direct views into the caldera of Tanzania’s only officially-certified active volcano, and the world’s only carbonatite volcano; records of eruptions have been maintained since 1883, the largest of which deposited ash 100 kilometres away in Loliondo on the Kenyan border to the north west..

Ol doinyo Lengai

It is located in northern Tanzania

lying just south of Lake Natron in the Rift Valley, in the heart of Maasai country, and locally regarded as a sacred mountain. Looking north from it’s 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 horizons dominated by Kilimanjaro and to the west the forested escarpments and hills comprising the western slopes of the Rift Valley. Every seven years Lengai erupts and plumes of smoke billow out of the crater.

It is possible to walk across the crater floor. The ascent of Oldoinyo Lengai is demanding on account of the day time heat, lack of water, steep and unsuitable slopes of ash and crumbly rocks and considerable height gain. Normally you can start ascending to summit early in the morning and reach to summit at sunrise. Short and a warm jacket are suitable for ascent, also long trousers are good as the summit before dawn can be cold. Access route from the North West allows an early descent to be made from the summit in the morning shadow.

Standing at 2,878 meters above the Soda Ash Lake Natron, Mountain of GOD as famous to the Maasai community that inhabit the area, Mountain Ol’doinyo Lengai is situated in the Ngorongoro highlands and the African Rift valley about 120 kilometers Northwest of Arusha, Tanzania. Since the past ancestors the Holly Lengai has been used by Maasai for their prayer to their GOD known as NGAI. Ol’doinyo Lengai is the only active volcano in the world that erupt natrocarbonatite lava which is cooler than other lavas about (510 degrees C) compare to the temperatures of basaltic lavas (1,100 degrees C) with less silicon.

The Mountain frequently does minor eruptions and form cone like structures to its crater base.

While on the summit of Mountain Ol’doinyo Lengai one can sight clearly the Soda Lake Natron which accommodates and consist of good nesting sites for different bird species especially the Flamingos, pelicans and geese more than 350 different types are recorded to date. Unlike others two highest Mountains, Lengai takes about six to seven hours to the summit crater. Also the Mountain is an ideal place for a working safari escort by the Maasai guides with weapons tourist can sight wild animals like olive baboon, velvet, monitor lizard, hyenas, lion, leopard, jackal, Grant’s gazelle, impala and zebra. The nearby are the Maasai BOMAS that gives you a chance to interact with the indigenous learn their cultures, taboos and traditional.

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