Standing at 4,566 metres high, Mount Meru is Tanzania’s second highest mountain and the fifth highest mountain in Africa. This active volcano erupted only 100 years ago and is located 70km west of Mount Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania in the centre of the Arusha National Park. The fertile slopes rise above the surrounding savannah and support a forest that hosts diverse wildlife, including nearly 400 species of birds and also Colobus monkeys, buffalo and leopards.
With superb views all round, the mountain offers an immense variety of flora and fauna which adds considerable interest to the trek. The ascend is quiet steep, the route to the summit passes over streams, through parkland, montane forest and moorland.
A guide/ranger is mandatory on every trek because of the significant numbers of buffalo commonly encountered. There is one official route up to the summit and huts along the way offer simple, comfortable beds. Acclimatization is important and while you won’t need oxygen, spending at least 4 days on this trek is highly recommended. The best time to trek is June – October and December – February.
The climb of Meru is very much justified on its own merits but is also a great way to acclimatise for Mount Kilimanjaro. The views from Meru to Kilimanjaro, and of the Meru crater itself, give plenty of inspiration for another mountain climb!
4-DAY SAMPLE ITINERARY
Day 1 – Arusha to Miriakamba Hut
Leaving from your hotel early and drive to Arusha National Park. This is the point where we enter and drive a bit farther to the Momella Gate (1500 m), from where the climb begins. Leaving the gate and walk through game-filled grassy plains. This is where the path gets steeper and leading up to a broad ridge. As we continue, the forest thickens and you get occasional views of Mount Kilimanjaro to your right. After a few hours, you will reach the first campsite, Miriakamba Hut (2500 m). Here you will settle into a dormitory style room, rest and enjoy dinner.
Trekking Time: 4-5 hours | Distance: 10 km | Altitude Gain: 1000 m
Day 2 – Miriakamba Hut to Sadle Hut
Wake up early to get breakfast and begin our day’s trek. Here the path becomes steeper and passes through fine forests while we are heading to the Saddle Hut (3500 m), where you will spend the evening and rest. If there is time in the afternoon, you may want to take a hour long acclimatization hike to Little Meru (3801 m), where you have the opportunity to see beautiful views of Mt. Kilimanjaro at sunset.
Trekking Time: 3-4 hours | Distance: 8 km | Altitude Gain: 1000 m
Day 3 – Sadle Hut to Summit to Sadle Hut
Waking up around 01:00 am, we have a small meal and start our ascent towards the summit. The hike begins with switchbacks until we reach Rhino Point (3800 m). From here, the trek becomes more difficult as we encounter rocky ground, navigate narrow ridges, and climb up to the summit. We hope to reach the summit, Socialist Peak (4562 m) around sunrise, where we can see the moon setting to west and the sun rising over Mt. Kilimanjaro in the east.
Trekking Time: 4-6 hours | Distance: 5 km | Altitude Gain: 1062 m
Descend goes the same way as we came up, reaching Saddle Hut in a few hours. Here we rest and have a short meal before beginning our descent down to Miriakamba Hut for our last night on the mountain.
Trekking Time: 5-7 hours | Distance: 13 km | Altitude Loss: 2062 m
Day 4 – Sadle to Arusha
Descend back down through grassy plains, where you have a high chance of seeing wildlife. Arrive at the park gate, happily accept your certificate of completion, and drive back to your hotel in Moshi or Arusha town where you will enjoy a well-deserved shower and congratulations.
Trekking Time: 2-3 hours | Distance: 10 km | Altitude Loss: 1000 m