Mount Meru is one of Africa’s most beautiful volcanoes and at 4,566m is the second-highest mountain in Tanzania.
Mount Meru is often overlooked (literally!) by those climbing Kilimanjaro. Although in no way an alternative to Kilimanjaro, it offers an extremely enjoyable climb in its own right, and is very valuable as a warm-up and acclimatisation. The climb also has the distinction of being the best ridge walk in East Africa. Meru is an extinct volcano with the eastern part of the mountain blown away. This has left a horse-shoe shaped ridge, with the summit at its apex. In the old crater is an impressive ash cone.
Arusha National Park surrounds the mountain and is worth visiting for its own attractions. There is abundant wildlife here, with easy sightings of giraffe, buffalo and hippos. The only way up the mountain, the Momella Route, takes the right-hand, northern ridge.
This route gives walkers the opportunity to spot some of the birds and wildlife that inhabit the area. The ascent is quite steep and the route to the summit passes over streams, through parkland, montane forest, a giant heather zone and moorland. The narrow, barren ridge to the top provides stunning views of the ash cone lying several thousand feet below in the crater. Weather permitting, Kilimanjaro can be seen in the West.
As with most mountains in East Africa, you cannot climb Mount Meru alone. You must have an armed guard, a guide and pay park fees. The accommodation is in simple huts with wardens. The huts are kept in a reasonable state of repair and are comfortable places to spend the night.
Drive 1 Hr, Hike Distance 10 km, 4 – 5 hrs, 1000m ascent, Altitude: 2516m
Drive to the Arusha National Park gate at Momella. For the first section of the Mount Meru climb through the lush forest, crossing the Ngare Nanyuki river to reach Miriakamba Hut at 8337ft / 2541m for overnight stay. Dinner and overnight Mariakamba Hut.
Hike Distance 4km, 2 – 3 hrs, 1050m ascent, Altitude: 3566m
Continue to ascend steeply through the pleasant forest glades and giant heather to reach Saddle Hut at 11,713ft / 3570m.
From here it is possible to take a side trek to reach the summit of Little Meru 12,450ft / 3794m and return to Saddle Hut in about 2 hours. Dinner and overnight Saddle Hut.
Hike distance 5km ascent + 19km descent, 4 – 5 hrs ascent + 6-8 hours descent, 1000m ascent, Altitude: 4566m
The third day of your Mount meru climb begins with an early start to reach Rhino Point and then on to the summit at 14,981ft / 4566m to see the sunrise behind Mount Kilimanjaro, before descending back to Momella Gate to be met and transferred back to your hotel.
Drive 1 hr back to Arusha.