Why should you climb Mount Meru, Tanzania’s second largest Mountain? A Thrilling Hiking Adventure In The Pristine Wild: Hikers are often drawn to Mount Kilimanjaro and overlook Mount Meru, Tanzania’s second-highest peak. Mount Meru, which towers over Arusha National Park, serves as an excellent warm-up for Kilimanjaro as well as a stunning trekking experience in its own right.
Trekking Mount Meru is an exciting adventure. The slopes of this dormant (but still active; the last eruption was in 1910) volcano provide fascinating panoramic vistas and a plethora of wildlife. This volcano “birthed” around 500,000 years ago, and its first eruption nearly exploded its eastern side, giving it an unusual appearance. Mount Meru also has one of the deepest craters in the world—over 1,500 meters!
Add Mount Meru—the second-highest mountain in Tanzania and the fifth-highest mountain in Africa to your Africa travel bucket list itinerary without going too far out of your way if you’re already planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. In terms of strategy, climbing Mount Meru before Kilimanjaro is a great way to acclimate before climbing the highest point in Africa. With breathtaking sunrise views of Mount Kilimanjaro from the crater’s ridge, lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and an array of wildlife, it is also one of the most breathtaking treks in all of East Africa.
WHY SHOULD YOU CLIMB MOUNT MERU?
Here are the top six reasons of why you should include mount meru in your 2023/2024 Africa and Tanzania travel bucket list
- Improve Acclimation
The smaller brother of Kilimanjaro is frequently hiked as a warm-up for the larger sister, Kilimanjaro. Altitude sickness, which can be extremely dangerous and even fatal, is less likely to occur the more time you give your body to adapt to high altitude. It is a great way to spend more time at altitude and make your Kilimanjaro trek that much more comfortable because the summit of Mt. Meru (14,980 feet) is at the height of Kilimanjaro’s two highest camps. To accomplish this, you must hike them back-to-back; begin your climb of Kilimanjaro the following morning or the morning after hiking down Meru. Meru’s summit will not help you with your acclimatization to Kilimanjaro if you don’t climb it immediately after Kilimanjaro.
Although doing so can greatly aid in acclimatization, one shouldn’t then attempt an aggressive climb of Kilimanjaro. On such a challenging trek, that is never advised; always follow the tried-and-true strategy of “pole-pole,” which translates to slowly, slowly.” Those who climb Meru first, then Kilimanjaro, and heed their guides’ instructions rarely experience difficulties on Kilimanjaro’s summit night. Finally, it is advisable to remember that the Mt. Meru trek is challenging. Despite being a shorter trek at a lower elevation, it is still difficult and demanding. In addition, it is steeper than the majority of Kilimanjaro routes. A successful trek requires thorough training and preparation.
- Jaw-dropping Biodiversity
Fewer people visit Mount Meru’s pristine forests, which are teeming with wildlife, than Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Kenya. Arusha National Park, where Mt. Meru is located, has the largest giraffe population in the world as well as vast grasslands that are home to buffalo, zebras, elephants, antelopes, and warthogs. You have a good chance of coming across a lot of the large wildlife that inhabits this diverse mountain ecosystem. For this reason, the nation mandates is that trekkers toward the mountain should be accompanied with an armed guide.
Keep an eye out for birds such as eagles, falcons, hornbills, cuckoos, and falcons perched above you as you hike out of the savannas. In the canopies above are baboons, blue monkeys, and black-and-white colobus monkeys. Those with keen eyes can also find amphibians and reptiles, including frogs, chameleons, tortoises, green mambas, and pythons. Even though they are less visible, nocturnal mammals like porcupines and leopards can be found living on the mountainside. Trekking Meru is an exciting journey into the animal kingdom because of the variety of vibrant and wild animals that call its slopes home.
- Stunning Flora
Meru’s soil is fertile and nutrient-rich because it is a dormant volcano. Fruits such as wild mangoes, African olives, and even figs can be found in the lower forests. It’s no surprise that the nectar of wild orchids, lilies, and violets supports a thriving butterfly population while also providing a sweet fragrance to the forest. The famous Arched Fig Tree, which has formed a natural tunnel wide enough for an elephant or a car to pass through, will greet you on the first day. Giant grasses and lobelias, similar to those found on Kilimanjaro, can be found higher up the mountain in the heather zone. As you approach the summit, the last vegetation zone transforms into a craggy alpine desert with scattered tufts of grass. Those interested in ecology will be blown away as they ascend through Mt. Meru’s vegetation zones.
- East Africa’s Most Scenic Trek
There’s a lot to see on the way up, from old huts to a series of waterfalls hidden in the tropical forest. You’ll continue your ascent through picturesque glades and forests. When you get to Kitoto Camp, you can see the beautiful Momella Lakes in the valley below you. When there are no clouds, you may be able to see the inner crater walls’ steep cliffs and Meru’s summit from Rhino Point, higher up the mountain. The best views on the mountain, however, are from the horseshoe rim. As you make your way across the sheer ridgeline, you will experience some of the most exhilarating and beautiful trekking in East Africa. The ash cone can be seen a thousand meters below when looking down into the crater.
Mount Meru is located 70 kilometers west of Kilimanjaro, and its vast expanse fills the entire eastern horizon. From December to February, the skies are clear and blue, allowing for a clear view of Kilimanjaro. The city of Arusha, located on the other side of the crescent, outside the green plains of Arusha National Park, is easily spotted by its lights in early morning ascents. Enjoy mesmerizing views of Kilimanjaro on the descent after taking in views of Little Meru to the north of the summit. This pristine trekking paradise is undoubtedly one of Tanzania’s best-kept secrets.
- Escape the crowds
Every year, an estimated 35–50,000 people attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro; to put that in context, an average of 170–200 new climbers begin at the mountain’s base during the climbing months. Because of Kilimanjaro’s popularity, “traffic jams” are possible on its busier routes such as Marangu, Machame and Lemosho route. Mt. Meru is a tranquil island of serenity in comparison to this tourist hotspot. It is also less commercialized, and the trail huts are in better condition due to the smaller crowds. Many hikers who have summited both mountains prefer Meru to Kilimanjaro simply because it is less crowded.
- Expert Team
Both mountains will test you to your limits, pushing you beyond what you thought you were physically and mentally capable of. When climbing thousands of meters in altitude, it’s important to know that you’re being guided by an experienced, quick-thinking, and dedicated support team. Because having guides on the mountain is required, the only decision left to make is what caliber of team you want with you on the mountain for a week.
Our guides are full of energy and provide memorable experiences that trekkers will remember for a lifetime. They create a safe and enjoyable trekking environment by each having over 100 successful summits, Wilderness First Aid certification, and intimate knowledge of the mountain.
ABOUT THE MOUNT MERU TREK
Mt. Meru’s summit, known as Socialist Peak, is 4,980 feet high and takes 3–4 days to reach via the Momella Route. Though there were previously other routes up the mountain from the north, Momella (on the east) is now the only legal route. The path begins at Momella Gate and winds up through mountainside coffee farmlands before entering Meru’s sunken crater. Visitors spend each night in a mountain hut, beginning with Miriakamba Hut and then moving on to Saddle Hut before summiting and descending. Overall, it is a more peaceful and cost-effective alternative to Kilimanjaro, with stunning crater views.
MOUNT MERU COST
A three-day Meru climb costs USD 950 per person, and a four-day Meru climb costs USD 1050 per person. You can climb Mount Meru all year and choose your own travel dates, but we recommend avoiding the rainy season. The best months to climb Mount Meru are January through early March and June through October.
MOUNT MERU CLIMBING SAFETY
- Always be open and honest with us. We’re on the same team and have the same goal: to reach the summit and return safely and comfortably.
- Never pretend to be in good health if you aren’t before or during the climb.
- Before attempting the mountain, make sure you are in good physical and mental health. Prior to any climb, we recommend that you get a medical checkup.
- Most people will experience only mild altitude sickness symptoms. Your guide is knowledgeable about the symptoms and treatment of altitude sickness, but you should also educate yourself about the symptoms and prevention of acute mountain sickness (AMS), high altitude sickness (HAS), high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), and high altitude cerebral edema (HACE).
- If you experience any AMS symptoms, your guide will advise you to descend immediately.
MOUNT MERU EXPEDITION: ESSENTIAL POINTS
The key features of the Mt. Meru expedition includes:
To participate, you do not need any special alpine skills or experience: Mount Meru, like Kilimanjaro, is a “hiking,” not a “climbing,” mountain. The trekkers reach the Socialist Peak (4,562 m/14,967 f) on foot, with no ropes, ice axes, or helmets required; for the majority of them, Mt. Meru is their first mountaineering experience.
A normal level of fitness is sufficient: Meru hiking does not require any special equipment; you can do it if you can comfortably walk up to 10 km (6 miles) per day. The hike’s difficulty level is moderate.
It is critical to acclimate to altitude! Take it seriously: the altitude of Mt. Meru is high enough to cause altitude sickness. Follow these basic acclimatization rules:
- Hike slowly (the recommended pace is two times slower than your usual one).
- Drink much water (3–4 liters per day).
- Listen to your guide.
- Do not drink alcohol or too much coffee.
The application of these basic principles will ensure that your Meru climb is enjoyable, safe, and successful.
Everything will be taken care of by the crew: A qualified guide is required by TANAPA (Tanzania National Parks Authority) to accompany hikers. The porters and cooks are in charge of carrying your luggage, organizing the camp, preparing food, and so on. According to local customs, half of the porter crew should be hired from the Meru tribe, who live in the foothills of Mount Meru.
Only huts are available for overnight stays on Mount Meru: In contrast to Kilimanjaro, where tent camping is available on all routes except Marangu, Mount Meru requires only hut accommodation.
Your party will be accompanied by an armed ranger up to the summit camp: An armed ranger will accompany you on your hike up to Saddle Hut Camp to ensure your safety and to protect the animals from poachers
There are many more reasons to climb Mount Meru than we have listed here. You will undoubtedly enjoy trekking this beautiful peak, given the spectacular views, amazing biodiversity, and our fantastic team! We can guarantee that whether you do it as a stand-alone adventure or in conjunction with Kilimanjaro, you will not be disappointed! We hope you found this article useful and would be happy to assist you in planning your Mount Meru trip. Don’t be afraid to reach us out!