After about an hour of jaw dropping sights our guide came over and told us that this was not a place to linger too long – it was time to go back down. He urged us back to the crater wall. Despite my fear I really wanted to stay longer. I could have watched for hours. There is something about the unstoppable forces of nature that enchants me, perhaps luring me to my doom. I found myself desperately needing the toilet, so excused myself, and took a crap at a secluded edge of the mountain, looking down at the valley and depositing my own lava where the mountain’s has started to flow over the edge. Returning to the rest of the group we began our descent.
Here is Stella just near the top. Below her you can see a small portion of the amazing views we could see. Photos just don’t do justice to sights that surrounds you, filling your field of vision and everywhere you look. It was astounding to look down upon such features. In an aeroplane you are too high, and can’t look directly below, but when you can see something it is similar. But the tiny windows detract. From the mountain you can see so much. Sadly the clouds do gather, and the view deteriorates, and we had to return our attention to the steep and precarious descent. This proved to be more challenging than the ascent, exercising different muscles in our still exhausted legs. Once past the rockface we could speed up a little, but the sliding gravels made it dangerous. We saw some young white Kenyans running down, jumping from side to side as if skiing. Mtui and I thought it was worth a go. It was indeed a rapid way forward, but I kept slipping over and nearly dislocating something or falling into ravines. As I ran and jumped further I started to feel the strain in my knees and ankles and knew I would no longer have the strength in my legs to control my path. I slowed down and started walking again, watching Mtui disapear. Bastard – I said to myself. Yuki and Stella caught up with me having tried the same thing and decided it was a bit too tricky. Our legs had all started to seize up. As we descended the place where the vehicle was parked seemed to retreat faster than the summit ever had. My knees started to shake with fatigue, and I slowed to a snails pace, which must have puzzled our guide who stuck with us, unlike some others who had run off ahead of their groups. In the end it took us six hours to get back down – half an hour longer than getting up! I guess we need a bit more exercise so we can run down next time!
This mountain is truly amazing – I can’t wait to give it another go, especially since my legs stopped hurting. I doubt that there are many mountians where the view from the top and the top itself battle for your attention like Ol Doinyo Lengai. I think I would rather visit again than try for the top of Kili, highest mountain in Africa or not. When I get to the top I am going to ask – Where are the volcanoes? Where is the danger? The view alone just may not be enough.