Being friends with people who work in the safari industry certainly has its benefits! This weekend we drove north of Arusha and out into the bush to visit one of the most unusual volcanoes in the world: Ol Doinyo Lengai, which means ‘Mountain of God’ in Massai. The volcano, which has been spewing ash and smoke for a few months now, is a pretty awesome sight, and as we approached the luxury tented camp where we were to stay for the night it coughed a plume of blackish-grey smoke! Apparently, it is the only volcano on earth which has a a carbonate lava flow instead of a silicate one (for more on this volcano’s amazing uniqueness, click here).
We were very fortunate to be able to stay within sight of the mountain, at a bushcamp which is owned and run by the company for which our friend works. Beautifully decorated, and with all the luxuries of hot water and refrigeration which you might not expect in such a remote setting, it really was a little piece of heaven on earth. We on the wooden deck which overlooks the vast valley floor and mountains in the background, sipping our sundowners and savouring the splendid scenery. After a lovely picnic meal of cold chicken, potato salad, carrot and pineapple salad and, of course, chocolate cake for desert, we retired to the lounge area to continue the good company and conversation. The wind had picked up, and by the time we got to bed our very large, permanently erected tents were creaking and flapping under the strain of it all, making sleep rather difficult until the wee hours when it finally died down and we could get some proper rest.
In the morning, the tinkling bells of Masai cattle could be heard in the valley below, reminding me of our trip to Ngorongoro crater, now also visible as a ridge in the far distance behind the closer mountains. According to our guide, the crater’s name is actually taken from the Masai word for this tinkling sound, hence the rhythmic repetition of the sounds. After gobbling down a huge breakfast of Mexican omelettes, courtesy of Glyn’s culinary skills, we departed back down the hill and proceeded, as we had done on the way in, to get covered in dust as we bounced along the dirt track road. I was pretty pleased not to have to have done it on the bikes, as it would rate right up there with the worst of them, as it had both a lot of sand and a lot of rocks, both of which can easily see me going sideways!