“Oldoinyo Le Ngai” is a Maasai term meaning “Mountain of God”. This mountain is approximately 9442 feet in height. It is the only active volcano in East Africa. Volcanic activity on the mountain has been observed from as far back as 1883, and it is still active today.
Oldoinyo Le Ngai is the sacred mountain of the Maasai. The Maasai have been known to go to the mountain to pray and offer sacrifices to the god of the mountain. They would go to the mountain include sickness, infertility, and other misfortunes, such as if a person loses his livestock.
The Maasai would take a flawless female black sheep (a young ewe) which has not reproduced to sacrifice on the mountain. The sheep would be kept in a specific place on the mountain, a dry water hole, and the Maasai would sings songs of worship and praise to the mountain god late into the night. In the morning, when the Maasai would awake, they would discover that the sheep had vanished, without a trace.
The requirements for sacrifice included not being allowed to eat until they return from the sacrifice. The Maasai who have been to the mountain say that they wake up feeling like they have full stomachs, belching meat and milk. The Maasai believe that God speaks to them on the mountain as they feel his presence and hear mysterious voices, but do not see the person talking. The Maasai also believe that a bad person (like a person who practices witchcraft) does not dare to go to the mountain because the mountain god will strike them dead.
Another reason why the Maasai are in awe of this mountain is because the soil changes color from white, gray, red, brown, black and even yellow (because of volcanic activity). An American explorer referred to this mountain as the “Big rock candy mountain” because of its varying colors. Oldoinyo Le Ngai is the most sacred place of worship for all the Maasai from the whole Maasai Diaspora in both Kenya and Tanzania. The Maasai from both countries come to pray and seek Gods intervention at the ‘Mountain of God’.
Climbing the mountain requires 4-5 hours moderate exertion. The ascent is quite challenging because the mountain is steep and climbers are exposed to the hot sun as there is hardly any shade. The best time to climb the mountain is early in the morning, before the sun gets too hot. Herds of zebra and wildebeest can sometimes be seen on the trip. A trip to the mountain can also encompass other nearby areas of interest like Lake Natron. Lake Natron is a breeding ground for flamingoes and other birds. There are several Maasai ‘bomas’ (homesteads) which can be visited, and one can also visit the nearby Mount Gelai, which has geysers and a spectacular waterfall.