Menengai Crater is a Krakatau-style caldera and is the largest Volcano caldera in Kenya, second in Africa and among the top ten in the entire world. The Menangai crater that’s found in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley sits on a large solid volcano that is believed to have formed over 200,000 years ago well as the crater itself is believed to have formed 8000 years ago. The Menengai crater is an extinct or dormant volcano that sits on the rift valley floor covering it with caldera lava flows.
The Menengai crater is termed extinct or dormant because it has signs of both the collapse of cauldron block and formation of eruptions of magma causing volcano scholars conclude that the crater is someway between extinct and dormant.
Also there are community reports that less than a thousand years ago people that said near or around the Volcano witnessed some mild eruptions from the crater which are signs of life for the volcano hence not extinct. Small cinder cones on the caldera floor also are said to show hot fumarole activity.
The Volcano is said to have geochemical evolutions that the Kenyan government is exploring through geothermal excavations that the government started a couple of years back.
The Menengai crater is about 2500m above sea level and has a diameter of 12km. From the crater’s rim the slopes go up to 500m down the crater floor.
It is believed that the Crater’s shape has changed over the years due to collapse of the cauldron block that caused the caldera walls to break down. This collapse however did not affect the west and southern sides of the crater.
The Menengai Crater surrounding is covered with wild flowers and plants, bushy grasslands and lush forests. This unique vegetation is home to some wild animals like mountain reedbuck, mongoose, vervet monkeys and a few others.
The vegetation also harbours some bird species that include African Marsh harrier, Verreaux eagle and many more.
The Menengai crater is considered to have been a battle ground between Maasai clans who fought for land on the slopes of Volcano in the rift valley; fighting for pastures for their animals and land for animal grazing.
It’s believed that in one of those fights the Ilaikipiak Moran Maasais were defeated by the famous Ilpurko Maasai. The story is that Ilpurko Maasai threw the Ilaikipiak over the edge of the crater in their defeating fight and hence leading to Ilaikipiak Moran Maasai’s death. Because of this locals believe that the Menengai crater is haunted by the spirits of the dead Ilaikipiak Maasai hence its name that means death from the Maasai word “Maa” meaning dead.
In contrast however, other locals believe the Menengai Crater is a place of spiritual enrichment with spiritual powers that heal and give miracles to people. For that reason every year Pilgrimages from far and wide visit the crater for spiritual enrichment from the crater.
The Menengai Crater is one of Kenya’s and Nakuru’s top tourist attractions with incredibly beautiful sceneries on the crater itself and around the crater.
The incredibly beautiful Menengai crater is located north of Nakuru County; about 10km outside of Nakuru Town and visit to this crater is coupled with adventure and refreshment. Taking a hike up the crater gives you an opportunity to enjoy the amazingly beautiful views of the crater depths, Lake Nakuru, Lake Bogoria and some parts of Nakuru County.
The crater offers several tourist activities that include but not limited to: – hiking to crater top, picnicking at the carter, camping at the crater, biking around the crater and taking photos at and around the crater among other things.
For individuals mainly taking photos at the crater the top of the crater reflects spectacular pink and blue colours of Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria that offer unmatchable backgrounds for photos.
The sunset at the top of the crater is also a scenic add to photos and a great compliment to picnics and camping experiences.
Also when you Visit the Menengai crater, you will have an opportunity to visit the Mau Mau cave located west of the crater. The Mau cave is where guerrillas are believed to have hidden during the Mau Mau conflict from British colonial forces
To get to the Menengai Crater from Nairobi you will use the Nairobi – Nakuru highway through Nakuru town then North of Nakuru.