MT. OLDOINYO LENGAI CLIMBING

South of Lake Natron in the eastern rift valley of North Tanzania, lies Mount Ol Doinyo Lengai (locally regarded as the sacred Mountain of God in the Maa Language), an active volcano. At 2878meters, Mt. Lengai is the only known volcano in the world that sometimes erupts natrocarbonatite lava, a highly fluid lava that contains almost no silicon. Natrocarbonatite lava (most fluid lava) is also much cooler than other lavas.  During the day most of this lava flows look like fluid black oil. Some feel the lava flows resemble mud like-flows.  Natrocarbonatite lava turns white when in contact with moisture.  During rainy periods, the lava turns white almost immediately whilst this whitening takes longer during the dry periods.
Mount Ol Doinyo Lengai also has phases of explosive activity during which the composition of the lava may contain much more silicate material. With this type of eruption, initial phases of the eruption may include strong lava fountains but usually there is no fluid lava and ash eruptions accompanied by ejection of rocks and explosions occurs.  The two most recent eruptions of this type occurred during 1966-1967 and 2007-2008.  Almost without fail, about every seven years Lengai erupts and plumes of smoke billow out of the crater. At other times it is possible to walk down into the crater, almost to the edge of the molten lava flows.
Views in the north from its summit crater lies the hot barren salt flats of Lake Natron stretch into the distance, beyond lies the Kenyan border. The day temperatures by the lake often exceed 40°C and a few animals survive here with the flamingo making its home here as breeding grounds, nesting on the salty surface on upraised mounds. The view on the east is dominated by Mt Kilimanjaro and to the west the forested escarpments and hills comprising the western slopes of the Great African Rift Valley.
To the south stretches the Crater Highlands, Ngorongoro being one of the prime wildlife conservation areas in Africa.
The ascent of Oldoinyo Lengai is demanding on account of the day time heat, lack of water, steep and unstable slopes of ash and crumbly rocks. An early start or mid nigh is recommended and the best approach is from the west where the morning sun can be avoided for a while.
  • DAY 1

    Depart Arusha at 7.00 am and drive to Ngaresero village (Lake Natron) with packed lunch. This is about 8 hours driving. Dinner and overnight at Natron Tented Camp on FB Basis

  • DAY 2

    At very early morning 1:00 a.m. drive to the base of the Ol’doinyo Lengai mountain to start the climb. Reach at the summit during sunrise and spend sometime there before coming down to the base of the mountain. From there clients will be transferred by jeep to camp for shower and rest. Dinner and overnight at Natron Tented camp on FB Basis.

  • DAY 3

    Breakfast then drive back to Arusha or proceeding with your safari depending on your itinerary.

KILIMANJARO CLIMB, SHIRA ROUTE

The Shira Plateau area of Kilimanjaro offers a fantastic opportunity to get high on a big mountain and to hike around this impressive World Heritage Site as a day trip – it’s a fantastic area and there are some great day hikes – either a more strenuous day hiking up along the ancient rim of the plateau or something more relaxed sticking to the undulating floor – perhaps going as far as the photogenic ‘cone place’ or Shira Needles’ at the Southern end of the plateau. To the west the Kibo Massif of Kilimanjaro sweeps up to the glaciers near the summit, the rise scarred by deep valleys and eroded lava flows that stand like twisted modern sculptures in the harsh mountain weather. A number of streams tumble down this flank of the mountain, eventually joining together in a gulley that crosses the plateau before plunging down to the plains far below.
There is a fair amount of wildlife on the plateau however most of it is elusive and nocturnal but with care the events of the night can be reconstructed from the footprints around the watering points on the streams. There are herds of buffalo but also smaller gazelles and bushbuck, there is the carcase of eland and elephant higher on the mountain proving that these larger animals are occasional visitors.
The day starts early with a pick up in Arusha then a 3 hours drive through the rich agricultural area at the base of the mountain, this varies from hand tilled small holdings to large commercial farms before giving way first to plantation forest and finally to indigenous forest .
Once through the park gate the road climbs more steeply up a rough track moving quickly through the different layers of vegetation from thick mountain forest with towering trees gradually giving way to the giant heath. These giants initially tower ten to fifteen feet high but as we get higher they become gradually shorter, when we crest the final rise on the plateau they are only a few feet high.
From the parking area at the edge of the plateau we can strike out in any direction, following the myriad of small animal tracks to meander our way across the plateau. The guide will carry picnic lunch, each hiker needs a small rucksack to carry water, warm clothes and full waterproofs – the weather can change incredibly quickly as clouds swoop down from the summit. A pair of stout walking boots are needed as in some areas the ground can be soft.
Mid afternoon/evening return to the vehicle and bump back down the track and across the plains to Arusha arriving back at the hotel late afternoon or early evening.

MT. MERU CLIMB, MIRIAKAMBA ROUTE

  • DAY 1

    We start from Momella Gate (1,500 m) in late morning. The track soon passes some open  grassland, with a good chance of seeing buffaloes and warthogs, and then continues as a steady climb through montane forest. We take lunch at, or near, the Fig Tree Arch, which is big enough to drive a car through! After lunch , the route continues through less dense forest, where there are an abundance of birds and monkeys. The black and white colobus monkeys are particularly fascinating to watch. By mid-afternoon, there are the first closer views of the towering cliffs and the Ash  Cone. We reach Miriakamba Hut (2,514 m), situated in an idyllic grassy glade, in time to enjoy the last of the afternoon sun and beautiful views over the surrounding plains towards Kilimanjaro. [5-6 hours walking]

  • DAY 2

    The walk from Miriakamba Hut to the saddle below Little Meru is a short day but a steep and sustained climb all the way. We walk through attractive, open, and lush montane forest to  reach the halfway point of Elephant Ridge. This has excellent views of the summit ridge and across most of the crater floor. Whilst resting, you might spot elephants or other animals from here. The path continues uphill through giant heather and other moorland vegetation to reach Saddle Hut (3,570 m), where lunch is waiting for us. The afternoon is free to rest and enjoy the views. The more energetic can make the short climb to the nearby summit of Little Meru (3,820 m) for superb views  just before sunset. [3-6 hours walking]

  • DAY 3

    An early start at around 2 a.m. to climb steeply to Rhino Point (3,800 m), and then continue along an undulating ridge of ash and rock to reach Cobra Point (4,350 m) around sunrise. The views are stunning: the cliffs of the Crater rim, the Ash Cone rising from the Crater floor, Kilimanjaro floating on the morning clouds ,and west towards the Rift Valley  if the weather is clear. The summit of Socialist Peak (4,566 m) is an hour more on a superb but often steep path. The route back to Rhino Point in the sharp morning light on a  narrow ridge between the sloping outer wall of the crater and the sheer cliffs of the inner wall is one of the most dramatic and exhilarating walks in Africa. We rest, and have brunch at Saddle Hut before continuing the descent to Miriakamba Hut (2,514 m). [10-12 hours walking]

    Note: The ridge between the summit and Rhino Point is not suitable for those suffering from vertigo. In icy conditions or in strong winds, it may be impossible for anyone to progress beyond Rhino Point.

  • DAY 4

    We take the direct route down towards Momella through open grassland and mixed forest, with good chances of seeing wildlife. This trail has excellent views back towards the crater and over the plains of the National Park. We should reach Momella Gate by late morning. [2-3 hours walking]

KILIMANAJRO CLIMB, MACHAME ROUTE

  • DAY 1

    The climb starts from Machame Gate (1,800 m.) and follows a ridge through dense montane forest. This is the richest forested area on the mountain, and also the zone from where 96 % of the water on Kilimanjaro originates. On sunny  days, and especially in the dry season, this section is very lush and beautiful;  it can also be a very muddy experience, particularly if it has rained recently! We have lunch at ‘Halfway Clearing’, a small opening in the trees,  and continue climbing steadily. The gradient becomes gentler as the forest slowly merges into giant heather close to the next camp near the ruins of Machame Hut (3,000 m.). We may get our  first closer look at the glaciated dome of Kibo if the evening clouds permit. [6-8 hours walking]

  • DAY 2

    A shorter day that begins by climbing up a steep ridge to reach a small semicircular cliff known as Picnic Rock. There are excellent views of Kibo and the jagged rim of Shira Plateau from here,and it is a good rest point too! The trail continues less steeply to reach the Shira Plateau.  We camp near Shira Hut (3,840m.) which has some of the most stunning views on Kilimanjaro; close to the huge volcanic cone of Kibo, the spectacular rock formations of Shira Plateau, and looking across to Mt. Meru floating on the clouds. [4-6 hours walking]

  • DAY 3

    A morning of gentle ascent and panoramic views, leaving the moorland plateau behind to walk on lava ridges beneath the glaciers of the Western Breach. After lunch near the Lava Tower junction (4,550 m.) we descend to the bottom of the Great Barranco valley (3,900 m.), sheltered by towering cliffs and with extensive views of the plains far below. [5-7 hours walking]

  • DAY 4

    A steep climb up the Barranco Wall leads us to an undulating trail on the south-eastern flank of Kibo, with superb vistas of the Southern Icefields. The terrain changes to scree, with pockets of lush vegetation in sheltered hollows, and there is only  a short distance to our camp at Karanga (4,000 m.), the last water point on the approach to Barafu, in a narrow valley. There is plenty of time to rest, or for a short optional acclimatisation walk in the afternoon up the valley above the camp. [4-5 hours walking]

  • DAY 5

    A short but steep climb out of Karanga, and an easy  path on compacted scree with wide views to reach Mweka Junction (4,150 m.). We then climb steadily to reach the Barafu campsite (4,600 m.) and continue to the plateau at the bottom of the South-East valley (4,800 m.). The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent before an early night. [4-5 hours walking]

  • DAY 6

    We will start our ascent by torchlight at about 1 a.m. so that we can be up on the Crater rim by sunrise. The steep climb over loose volcanic scree has some well-graded zig-zags and a slow but steady pace will take us to Stella Point (5,735 m.), in about five or six hours. We will rest there for a short time to enjoy the sunrise over Mawenzi. Those who are still feeling strong can make the two hour round trip from here along the crater rim to Uhuru Peak (5,896 m.), passing close to the spectacular  glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. The descent to Barafu is surprisingly fast, and after some refreshment, we continue to descend to reach our final campsite (3,800 m.) Millenium. Most of us will be too tired to notice the beauty of the forest surrounding the crowded campsite. [11-15 hours walking]

  • DAY 7

    A sustained descent on a well constructed path through lovely tropical forest alive with birdsong and boasting lush undergrowth with considerable botanical interest. Our route winds down to the National Park gate at Mweka (1,650 m). Here we sign out from the national park before walking on for a further 15 minutes through coffee and banana farms to Mweka village where our vehicle awaits. The shower, the beer, and the swimming pool are tantalisingly close! [4-6 hours walking]

KILIMANAJRO CLIMB, LEMOSHO ROUTE

  • DAY 1

    After completing the neccessary registration formalities at Londorossi National Park gate, we drive through varied farmland with open views over the plains to reach the Lemosho roadhead. The last section of the road is of poor quality and difficult to drive after rain, and the drive there should be considered as part of the adventure, sometimes we start walking a kilometre or two below the roadhead. We often have our lunch at the roadhead before starting to walk. It is an easy  day of walking up a small path through beautiful and lush forest. We camp at Lemosho Big Tree Camp (2,650 m); [2-3 hours walking]

  • DAY 2

    We soon leave the forest behind and enter the moorland zone of giant heather. The trail climbs steadily with wide views to reach the rim of  the Shira Plateau. There is a tangible sense of wilderness, especially if afternoon mists come in! We camp in the centre of the plateau at “Shira One” (3,550 m). [6-7 hours walking]

  • DAY 3

    An easy day to help acclimatisation, and to explore the  volcanic rock formations of  Shira Plateau. We walk to the summit of  Shira Cathedral before reaching the next camp at Shira Hut (3,840 m). This campsite has stunning views, close to the glaciated dome of  Kibo and the jagged rim of Shira Plateau. The views from here of Mt. Meru floating on the clouds are simply unforgettable. [4-5 hours walking]

  • DAY 4

    A morning of gentle ascent and panoramic views, leaving the moorland plateau behind to walk on lava ridges beneath the glaciers of the Western Breach. After lunch near the Lava Tower junction (4,550 m) we descend to the bottom of the Great Barranco valley (3,900 m), sheltered by towering cliffs and with extensive views of the plains far below. [5-7 hours walking]

  • DAY 5

    A steep climb up the Barranco Wall leads us to an undulating trail on the south-eastern flank of Kibo, with superb vistas of the Southern Icefields. The terrain changes to scree, with pockets of lush vegetation in sheltered hollows, and there is only a short distance to our camp at Karanga (4,000 m), the last water point on the way to the summit. [4-5 hours walking]

  • DAY 6

    We follow an easy path on compacted scree with wide views that gains altitude unrelentingly to reach the Barafu campsite (4,600 m) for lunch. There is a short acclimatisation walk to the plateau at the bottom of the South-East valley (4,800 m). The remainder of the day is spent  resting in preparation for the final ascent before a very early night. [3-5 hours walking]

  • DAY 7

    We will start our ascent by torchlight at about 1 a.m. so that we can be up on the Crater rim by sunrise. The steep climb over loose volcanic scree has some well-graded zig-zags and a slow but steady pace will take us to Stella Point (5,735 m), in about five or six hours. We will rest there for a short time to enjoy the sunrise over Mawenzi. Those who are still feeling strong can make the two hour round trip from here along the crater rim to Uhuru Peak (5,896 m), passing close to the spectacular  glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. The descent to Barafu is surprisingly fast, and after some refreshment, we continue to descend to reach our final campsite (3,800 m) Millenium. [11-15 hours walking]

  • DAY 8

    A sustained descent on a well constructed path through lovely tropical forest alive with birdsong and boasting lush undergrowth with considerable botanical interest. Our route winds down to the National Park gate at Mweka (1,650 m). Here we sign out from the national park before walking on for a further 15 minutes through coffee and banana farms to Mweka village where our vehicle awaits. The shower, the beer, and the swimming pool are tantalisingly close! [4-6 hours walking]

KILIMANAJRO CLIMB, MARANGU ROUTE

  • DAY 1

    After completing the entrance formalities at the National Park gate (1,830 m.) we climb up through attractive and unspoilt forest to reach the clearing containing (2,700 m.). The volcanic remains of Maundi Crater are nearby, and make a good afternoon excursion. An alternative is to simply rest and enjoy the beautiful forest  around you. Camp at Mandara Hut [3-5 hours walking]

  • DAY 2

    The first part of the walk is a steep ascent through forest, but the path soon opens out into grassy moorland and, in clear weather, there are good views of Kibo and Mawenzi peaks. We climb steadily through the moorland zone, containing giant heather and occasional stands of groundsel, to eventually reach the hut complex at Horombo (3,720 m.). Sunrises and sunsets here are often very spectacular, the site is close to the glaciated dome of Kibo, and there is a real sense of being above the clouds. [4-6 hours walking]

  • DAY 3

    The day is spent making an excursion towards the base of the seldom visited Mawenzi peak, which affords excellent views of Kibo and our route up to the crater rim at Gillman’s Point. Mawenzi is an older volcano than Kibo and so has eroded further into a very jagged ridge with dramatic pinnacles. The landscape feels more alpine and there is a greater sense of peacefulness than in other locations on this route. We spend a second night at Horombo Hut to further improve our acclimatisation. [4-5 hours walking]

  • DAY 4

    We climb very gradually towards the lunar desert of the Saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo. The terrain changes to scree and there is a palpable sense of high altitude wilderness. We usually reach Kibo Hut (4,700 m.) at the bottom of the crater wall by midday and the afternoon is free (to contemplate the summit ascent!!). The remainder of the day is spent resting and eating in preparation for the final climb before a very early night! [4-6 hours]

  • DAY 5

    We will start our ascent by torchlight at about 1 a.m. so  that we can be up at Gillman’s Point by sunrise. The initial climb is steep over loose volcanic scree, but there are some well-graded zig-zags and a slow but steady pace will have us up to Gillman’s (5,685 m.) in about five or six hours. We will rest there and spend some time taking in the sunrise. Those who are still feeling strong can make the three hour round trip from here along the crater rim to Uhuru Peak (5,896 m.), passing close to the spectacular glaciers that still occupy most of the summit area. The descent is surprisingly fast and we return to Horombo Hut for the night. [11-15 hours walking]

  • DAY 6

    We retrace our steps with a pleasant moorland walk to Mandara and then a lovely forest walk to the National Park gates. The greenness and lushness of the forest is quite a stunning contrast to the summit day, and it really  makes you realise how varied the secenery on Kilimanjaro really is. [5-6 hours walking]

KILIMANAJRO CLIMB, RONGAI ROUTE

  • DAY 1

    After completing the necessary registration formalities at Marangu National Park gate, we transfer to Rongai. The climb begins from Nale Moru (1,950 m) on a small path that winds through fields of maize and potatoes before entering pine forest. The track then starts to climb consistently, but gently through attractive forest that shelters a variety of wildlife, including the beautiful Kilimanjaro Colobus monkey. These monkeys are black with a long ‘cape’ of white hair and a flowing white tail. The forest begins to thin out and the first camp, Rongai One, is at the edge of the moorland zone (2,600 m) with extensive views over the Kenyan plains. [3-4 hours walking]

  • DAY 2

    The morning walk is a steady ascent up to the ‘Second Cave’ (3,450 m) with superb views of Kibo and the Eastern icefields on the crater rim. After lunch, we leave the main trail and strike out across the moorland on a smaller path towards the jagged peaks of Mawenzi. Kikelewa campsite is in a sheltered valley with giant senecios near Kikelewa Caves (3,600 m) [6-7 hours walking]

  • DAY 3

    A short but steep climb is rewarded by superb allround views and a tangible sense of wilderness. We leave vegetation behind shortly before reaching the next camp at Mawenzi Tarn (4,330 m), spectacularly situated in a cirque directly beneath the towering spires of Mawenzi. The afternoon will be free to rest or explore the surrounding area as an aid to acclimatisation. [3-4 hours walking]

  • DAY 4

    We cross the lunar desert of the ‘Saddle’ between Mawenzi and Kibo to reach Kibo campsite (4,700 m) at the bottom of the Kibo crater wall. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent before a very early night! [5-6 hours walking]

  • DAY 5

    We will start the final, and by far the steepest and most demanding, part of the climb by torchlight around 1 a.m. We plod very slowly in the darkness on a switchback trail through loose volcanic scree to reach the crater rim at Gillman’s Point (5,685 m) We will rest there for a short time to enjoy the spectacular sunrise over Mawenzi. Those who are still feeling strong can make the three hour round trip to  Uhuru Peak (5,896 m), passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. The descent to Kibo (4,700 m) is surprisingly fast and, after some refreshment, we continue the descent to reach  Horombo Camp (3,720 m). [11-15 hours walking]

  • DAY 6

    A steady descent takes us down through moorland to Mandara Hut (2,700m), the first stopping place at the Marangu route. We then continue descending through lovely lush forest on a good path to the National Park gate at Marangu (1,830 m). [5-6 hours walking]