The Menengai Crater is one of the major tourist attractions in Nakuru Town. It is located approximately 10 kilometres from the CBD of Nakuru and close to100 minutes from Nairobi. Menengai attracts visitors from far and wide due to its magnificent views and features. It hosts no less than 100 visitors a day. Here are a few fascinating facts about the famous destination.
It is a dormant volcano
Menengai Crater is one of the volcanic mountains sitting in the Rift Valley. Mt. Longonot, another volcano sits less than 60 kilometres away. However, unlike Longonot, Menengai Crater is not extinct. It is marked as dormant, meaning that future eruption of the same is anticipated.
2nd largest caldera
The Menengai Crater is believed to be the second-largest caldera in the world. It is the largest in Kenya. The caldera has a mind-blowing area of 90 square kilometres.
Has steam jets
One of the most factors supporting possible future eruption of the crater is the presence of steam jets. These appear on different parts of the mountain including at the bottom of the caldera. Steam jets occur as a way of releasing pressure built up by heated underground water by the hot lava.
It is fairly young
The Rift Valley is estimated at above 2 million years. The Menengai Crater, however, is only 200,000 years old. Compared to other geographical features in the country, the mountain can be categorized as almost new.
It supports a variety of wildlife
The crater has a healthy population of flora, which in turn supports a number of animals. Some of the frequently spotted animals include hyenas, baboons and duikers. There is also a variety of birds living in the ecosystem. In some parts of the mountain, local people graze their livestock.
It is run and protected by Kenya Forest Service
The Menengai Crater is under the administration of the Kenya Forest Service. This office helps in preventing any illegal felling of the trees present on the mountain. They also govern the people looking to visit the crater and so charge a small fee at the gates.
Surrounded by mysterious tales
The Menengai Crater, as beautiful as it may be, is not a favourite for all. Locals in the vicinity refer to the mountain as Kirima kya ngoma meaning the mountain of demons. Several tales exist about how the mountain is haunted by many spirits that have died or been killed within it. The locals swear that some parts of the mountain cause people to lose their sanity, which sometimes leads to suicide. The people who have been lost and later found in the crater were allegedly recovered in a state of delusion.
It is also sacred
To others, the mountain is a place where they can get closer to God. People thus travel far and wide to visit the mountain and take days of prayer and fasting, after which they believe to have clarity and peace.
Has numerous activities
When visiting Menengai Crater, you can participate in a variety of activities. These include bird watching, enjoying immensely beautiful views of Nakuru town and its environs at 2300 meters above sea level, picnicking and hiking. You can also visit the GDC plant that is exploring geothermal power production from the steam jets.