Despite the serene and breathtaking marvel that is the Menengai crater, something dark and dangerous is feared to haunt this Rift Valley volcano. Now a nature reserve, in 1854 the crater was the sight of a massive battle between the Maasai and Ilaikipiak people. The civil war resulted in the tragic deaths of hundreds of men who were hurled over the crater rim to their deaths. The place retains a sinister reputation, and local people refuse to go near it. Rumors persist that those who venture into the 500 meter deep crater will never return.
It is said that people hear the ringing of bells and the sinister whisperings of demons. It is believed that these demons and the lost souls of the tribal soldiers who died here cause people to take their lives within the crater. Among many strange tragedies here, a Catholic priest recently died after plunging his vehicle into the crater.
According to eyewitnesses, the demons can be seen within the crater, and recently, locals even claimed to have seen the devil riding a motorcycle on a hill called "Kirima Kia ngoma" (Devil's Hill). The legends of the Maasai state that thermal geysers here are in fact Maasai warriors who have perished on the battlefields. The steam that escapes the caldera are believed to be the souls of warriors ascending to the heavens. Local Kikuyu folk tale states that the name Menengai means "a place of no Gods."
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