Menengai crater preview.
Menengai crater remains one of the best attractions in Nakuru County.
This Krakatau-style caldera which is the largest in Kenya- second in Africa and among the top 10 largest calderas in the world is a requisite stopover on your way to Nakuru.
We had heard a lot about Menengai Crater and we couldn’t keep our nerves still at the thought of this dormant but active volcano.
Which erupted less than 10,000 years ago.
This was to be our main “Layover” as we made our way to Lake Nakuru Flamingo Resort & Spa one of the best accommodations in Nakuru.
Menengai Crater is the pride of Nakuru tourist’s attraction boasting 500 M from the crater rim all the way to the crater floor.
2500 M above sea level and a diameter of 12 Kilometers.
The crater is also rich in fauna and flora, having lush green landscapes as witnessed from the viewpoint.
Animals like the mountain reedbuck, mongoose, vervet monkeys, and many others call Menengai crater home.
With that said, we just started lets now delve in and know all about Menengai Crater.
Where is Menengai Crater Location?
It is located in Great Rift Valley Nakuru county, Kenya some 181 Kilometers from Nairobi and 10 Kms north of Nakuru.
How to get there.
Private means: Take on Nairobi – Nakuru Road, drive past Naivasha and just before the first roundabout after the Nakuru Railway Station.
Make a U-turn and take the first left turn then follow the Menengai signpost which is conspicuously displayed all the way to the gate.
Public Means: Take a Matatu from in Nairobi from Nyamakima stage off river road, am told prestige is one of the best which plies that route.
Once in Nakuru, you will then take a taxi to Menengai Crater.
Menengai Crater Entrance fee 2021.
We were not there for hiking but just for the viewpoint. However, this doesn’t matter if you`re there for a minute or a whole day.
You all pay the same and these are the Menengai Crater Entry fee.
- School Parties……………. Kes33.2
- Children……………………. Kes88
- Non- Resident Child…. Kes282
- Resident…………………. Kes564
- Resident Child…………. Kes216
- College/University…. Kes68
Menengai Service Fee
- Educational Tours…………… Kes1,000
- Caves Exploration…………. Kes2,000
- Hiking Group………………… Kes7,000
- Nature Walks (Groups)…Kes5,000
- Horse/Camel Ride…………Kes2,000
- Cycling…………………………. Kes1,000
- Geothermal Education…Kes2,000
Menengai Crater View Point.
You will need a powerful car but not necessarily a 4WD to take you to the breathtaking viewpoint.
Many tourists travel miles just to have the pristine and exquisite lush green valley’s views.
The place was simply indescribable, this is where you take those unwavering clicks for the gram. Menengai Crater’s viewpoint is panoramic prettily favoured.
This is where we were looking forward to and we managed with ease since our guide was well versed with the area.
We also had the best viewpoint of the crater. I noticed if you`re on self-drive you can easily and stupidly get lost with ease.
If you’re new in the hood, get a guide at the gate and your work will be made easier for you to enjoy the incredible views.
This is the only place you can view the entire Nakuru like you’re on a skyscraper. The sunset was simply awe-inspiring.
If you love such verdant meadows views then you can just stay in this place all day. Were it not for time and my crew who persuaded me to get in the car.
I wouldn’t have left the place
Hike at Menengai Crater.
The hiking starts from top-down to the floor of the Menengai crater.
Descending looks and feels easy until you reach the floor and start ascending. This is where we separate professionals and amateurs.
The whole ideal can take up to 4 to 6 hours depending on your fitness.
We didn’t do the hiking but this was according to a tour leader who we met and had a group that just completed the absorbing and entrancing hike.
He told us along the way they were able to spot some animals like the hyenas, vervet Monkeys, Dik Diks among other small animals.
If you love bird watching then this is yours to go hiking since they spotted different bird species of which interestingly the birds seemed friendly in an awkward way.
I know it’s eerie but enthralling at the same time.
His group looked debilitated and dog-tired. I made a lame joke and funnily I could see some of the hiker’s eyes crinkle at the edges and the corners of their lips turn upwards.
This meant the tiresomeness was worth it!
Menengai Crater Last Eruption.
According to Volcano Spot “The volcano started as a low shield volcano, 200 000 years ago. Research on the deposits determined two voluminous ash-flow tuffs, each preceded by major pumice falls.
The first took place about 29,000 years ago and produced a large ancient caldera. The present caldera-forming occurred about 8000 years ago.”
They continue and state that “The associated eruptions produced about 30 km³ lava, or at least this was about the volume of the resulting present-day summit caldera.
During post-caldera times, some 25 km³ of magma was erupted, mostly as lava flows which now cover the caldera floor, but also as cinder cones and Plinian type tephra sheets”.
That is how Volcano Spot describes the Menengai Crater Last Eruption. Am no scientist but I trust they had it right.
Attractions and Activities.
The ranger on duty mentioned the following Attractions and activities in Menengai Crater. I will just list them for you to peruse.
Caldera View Point is the most popular especially for those who want to enjoy the indescribable caldera views.
Caves Exploration, is where guerrillas are believed to have hidden during the Mau Mau conflict from British colonial forces.
Hiking – Best when in a spirited group to hike and especially ascending from the caldera floor which can be challenging.
Educational Tours – this will comprise religious, cultural, geographical, and more importantly economic activities.
Geothermal education tours – The Gok started a geothermal which is underway to boost the Kenyan electricity supply.
Bird Watching – This will not only include birds but also snakes and wildlife education in Menengai Crater in general.
The others are -:
- Camel and horse riding
- Maili Sita View Point
- Rock Climbing
- Nature Trails or Forest Walk
- Tree species identification.
Day trip to Menengai Crater.
Groups are departing to Menengai Crater almost every other weekend for a day trip.
Reach out to Incredible Kenya Adventures, they will organize a joining group departure.
The Menengai day trip itinerary is usually simple and direct as shown below.
6:30 AM Depart Nairobi for Menengai Crater a 3 hours’ drive.
9:30 Am arrival at the Crater, immediately start your hike down to the crater floor. Down and up can take up to 4 to 6 hours depending on your fitness.
1500h this is the time you will depart the caldera for lunch, then depart for Nairobi arriving in time 1900h depending on traffic. It could be earlier though.
Facts about Menengai Crater.
Menengai Crater is the 6th largest Caldera in the world. Second in Africa after Ngorongoro Crater.
The volcano formed some 200,000 years ago and the prominent 12×8 Kms caldera formed 8,000 years ago.
It is only 10 km from Nakuru North the 4th biggest city in Kenya.
The locals call it the mountain of demons. They believe the ancestral spirits of the two Masai clans who fought in the area still haunt the place.
On contrary, some believe it is a sacred place and people travel from far to come and pray, fast in the area.
The destination is controlled by Kenya Forest Service and not the Kenya wildlife service as many tend to confuse the two.
It has the potential of erupting in the near future since it has steam jets. This is why it is termed a dormant but active volcano.
Menengai Crater is a requisite stopover if you’re having a road trip to Nakuru as this city is popular. You don’t have to hike but you can enjoy all the awe-inspiring views from the viewpoint.
The drive from the gate is also interesting if you want to test how good is your car when it comes to crazy terrain.
Get lost on purpose and you will enjoy your journey more. Not every day you will get to see such verdant meadows.
The entrance is quite affordable and so is camping in the area. I cannot start to imagine the sunset and Sunrise shots in the Menengai crater.