Climbing Mount Meru Highlights
At 4566m, Mt Meru is Tanzania’s second-highest mountain. Although overshadowed by Kilimanjaro in the eyes of trekkers, it’s a spectacular volcanic cone with one of East Africa’s most scenic and rewarding climbs, involving a dramatic walk along the knife-edge of the crater rim.
Mt Meru starts its steep rise from a circular base some 20km across at 2000m. At about 2500m some of the wall has broken away, so the top half of the mountain is shaped like a giant horseshoe. The cliffs of the inner wall below the summit are more than 1500m high, making them among the tallest in Africa. Inside the crater, more recent volcanic eruptions have created a subsidiary peak called the Ash Cone that adds to the scenic splendor.
The mountain is the centerpiece of Arusha National Park and its fertile slopes rise above the surrounding savanna and support a forest that hosts diverse wildlife, including nearly 400 species of birds, and also monkeys, and leopards. Trekkers have the opportunity to see a lot of wildlife as they approach and climb the mountain.
The ascent is quite steep in places and the route to the summit passes over a number of streams, moving through grasslands, tropical rainforest, alpine meadows, moorlands, and desert uplands to snow and ice. The summit is reached by a narrow, barren ridge, which provides stunning views of the Ash Cone lying several hundred feet below in the crater.
here are two blocks of four-bed bunkhouses (‘huts’) spaced for a 4 days or 3 days climb. Tent camping is possible especially during the July–August and December–January high seasons, Miriakamba hut and Saddle hut is often full.
Why Climb Mount Meru.
There are several reasons to include Mount Meru into your Tanzania adventures list. Regrettably, this volcano is often out shadowed by Kilimanjaro – located in the immediate vicinity, it attracts more international hikers, thus making it a secondary hiking destination or a warm-up exercise. The majority of hikers, however, ignore it altogether.
We at AMANI HOSTEL firmly believe that Mt Meru hiking is a great adventure by itself because of these reasons:
Reason 1 – Stunning scenery
Mount Meru features incredibly captivating scenic vistas. The trek to Socialist Peak (4566 m/14,980 f), traverses several climatic zones, offering diverse landscapes and unparalleled scenes for wildlife photography.
The views from the summit area of Mt Meru are truly rewarding – valleys, forests and meadows, all buried in lush verdure, and magnetizing view of the Kilimanjaro peak looming on a horizon will surprise even the most seasoned travellers.
Reason 2 – Rich wildlife
Nestled in Arusha National Park, Mount Meru is one of the few mountains of the world still densely inhabited by the wildlife, which freely roam on its slopes. The hikers are likely to experience multiple encounters with different animals, including buffaloes, antelopes, monkeys, giraffes and, with some luck in your pocket, even elephants.
Reason 3 – No crowds
Meru is not yet popular among hikers. During the high season, on the popular routes of Kilimanjaro (Marangu and Machame), there is a chance of “traffic jams”, something that you will never experience on the trails of Meru. For those who are seeking reclusive, tranquil hiking in the wild, Meru is a great choice.
Reason 4 – Mount Meru hiking tour is affordable
In contrast to other hiking adventures, Mt Meru climb is quite an affordable activity. Because no tents are necessary (overnight stays on Mt Meru are in huts), the number of crew is small, reducing the travel costs. Therefore, for those with shrinking budgets, Meru can become a good and affordable alternative.
Reason 5 – Excellent addition for the safari tour
The wildlife of Tanzania is what attracts most of the visitors to the country. Tanzania has been voted the best destination for wildlife viewing several years in a row.
At the same time, flying over half of the world surely justifies having more diverse experiences. Thus, pairing your safari tour with a Meru climb may be an excellent idea to get the best of Tanzania.
Mount Meru Expedition
The key features of the Mt Meru expedition
You do not need special alpine skills or experience to take part. Together with Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru is a “hiking”, not climbing “mountain”. Neither ropes, nor ice axes or helmets are necessary – the trekkers reach the Socialist Peak (4,562 m/14,967 f) on foot, and for the majority of them, Mt Meru is the first mountaineering experience.
The ordinary fitness level is ok. Meru hiking does not require anything special – as long as you can comfortably walk up to 10 km/6 miles per day, you can do it. The trekking level there is moderate.
Acclimatization to altitude is important! Do not take it lightly – the altitude of Mt Meru is serious enough to be the cause of altitude sickness. Follow these fundamental rules acclimatization:
- Hike slowly (recommended pace is two times slower than your ordinary one)
- Drink much water (3-4 liters per day)
- Listen to your guide
- Do not drink alcohol or too much coffee
The combination of these simple principles will make your Meru climb enjoyable, safe and successful.
The crew will take care of everything. Under the TANAPA (Tanzania National Parks Authority), a qualified guide should accompany the hikers. The team of porters and cooks are responsible for carrying your luggage, camp organization, food preparation, etc.
DAY VS. 4-DAY HIKE – HOW TO CHOOSE? If the schedule allows and you have not gained acclimatization on other mountains before (meaning that you have successfully climbed anything above 4,000m/13,123f and did not get affected by altitude sickness), we always recommend choosing a longer option. The more time you spend on Mount Meru – the more effectively your body adapts to the altitude, making the whole experience less stressful for it.
The Momella route approaches Mount Meru from the eastern face, moving up through the northern ridge to the peak.
The total trek distance is 45 km/27 miles.