Trekking Mt. Meru

Mount Meru is located in Arusha National park, just 40 minutes from Arusha. Kilimanjaro’s unassuming cousin, Mount Meru - the fifth highest mountain in Africa at 4,566 meters (14,990 feet) dominates the park’s horizon. Its peaks and Eastern foot slopes protected within the national park. Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbor, while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right.

Passing first through wooded savannah where buffalos and giraffes are frequently encountered, the ascent of Meru leads into forests a flame with red-hot pokers and dripping with Spanish moss, before reaching high open heath spiked with giant lobelias. Everlasting flowers cling to the alpine desert, as delicately-hoofed klipspringers mark the hike’s progress. Astride the craggy summit, Kilimanjaro stands unveiled, blushing in the sunrise.

The Best time to climb Mt. Meru is between June-February although it may rain in November. Best views of Kilimanjaro from Mt. Meru can be seen when climbing in December-February.

Trekking Mt MeruDay One: Momella Gate (1,500m/4,920ft) to Miriakamba Hut (2,515m/8,250ft)
Elevation Gain: 1,015 meters, 3,330 feet
Hiking Time: Four to seven hours

Leave Arusha at 9am for Arusha National Park. Reach the climb registration gate at approximately 10:30am to begin your climb. Choose between one of two routes for your first day’s hike: the mountain trail or dirt road.

The Mountain Trail: Pass through several different ecosystems during the three to five hour mountain trail hike. The hike begins along a seasonal stream through open forest where grazing cape buffalo, giraffe and warthogs reside. Continue climbing through the woodland stopping for lunch along the way. Reach Miriakamba Hut in the afternoon.

The Dirt Road: Hiking via the road takes four to seven hours and also passes through several different vegetation zones. During the first part of the trail, walk through open grassland where viewing buffalo, giraffe and warthog. After the grassland, enter the montane forest and pass through Fig Tree Arch. Continue along the road until reaching Miriakamba Hut in the afternoon.

Miriakamba Hut: Miriakamba Hut offers beautiful views of the U-shaped Meru crater, the ash cone and the towering cliffs that make up Meru's crater walls. There are toilet facilities, a water source and separate kitchen and lodge facilities for the mountain staff. Solar panels provide electricity in the evening. Soda and beer are available at Miriakamba. (B, L, D)

Mt Meru Camps, TanzaniaDay Two: Miriakamba (2,515m/8,250ft) to Saddle Hut (3,570m, 11,710ft)
Elevation Gain: 1,055 meters, 3,460 feet
Hiking Time: Three to five hours

After breakfast, leave Miriakamba and walk along flat land before entering the montane forest. Continue hiking until you reach a brief opening in the woods called Elephant Ridge. Arrive at Saddle Hut. The normal cloud cover of Arusha National Park burns off at about 3,200 meters. Saddle Hut lies at 3,570 meters.

The more energetic can summit Little Meru (3,820m) in the afternoon for breathtaking views of Meru and Kilimanjaro. The hike takes one to two hours round-trip. It does get cold on top of Little Meru so bring a jacket, gloves and a hat.

Saddle Hut is very similar to Miriakamba Hut, and is well-maintained, with separate facilities for mountain staff and tourists. (B, L, D)

Mt Meru Day Three: Saddle Hut (3,570m, 11,710ft) to Socialist Peak (4,566m/14,980ft) to Miriakamba (2,515m/8,250ft)
Elevation Gain: 996 meters, 3,270 feet
Hiking Time: Ten hours

After a light breakfast at 1:30am, begin the hike to Mount Meru's summit, Socialist Peak. Begin the morning with a steep climb up to Rhino Point (3,800m). Descend to cross a small rock bridge, and then continue going up and down over the mix of rocky and sandy trail. The trail involves rock scrambling and there are steep drops to either side of the trail in some places. Be sure to follow the green trail markers and your Duma guide!

Reach the crater rim around dawn and continue to Meru’s peak. The views are spectacular all the way to the summit, offering close looks at the crater's sheer walls, the ash cone, cloud formations and the surrounding park. The hike to the summit is slow-going due to the sandy trail conditions, high winds and altitude. Bring energy food to snack on during the hike. After taking photos, descend to Saddle for brunch and then to Miriakamba.

PLEASE NOTE: It may be impossible to proceed beyond Rhino Point during rainy or icy conditions. We advise you to climb Meru during the dry season. There are many parts of the summit trail that have steep drops to either side or involve periods of rock scrambling. Proceeding beyond Rhino Point is not recommended for those who suffer from vertigo. (B, L,D)

trekking4 800Day Four: Miriakamba (2,515m/8,250ft) to Momella Gate and Kilimanjaro Airport (1,500m/4,920ft)
Elevation Loss: 1,015 meters, 3,330 feet
Time: Two to three hours

Descend to Momella Gate from Miriakamba Hut. The descent is fast unless it has rained on the trail. First pass through scrubland, then descend into the montane forest and finally into the open grassland. If the trail is wet, we recommend using the road to descend.

After reaching the gate, receive certificates for reaching the summits of Mount Meru and Little Meru. Thank your national park guide and mountain staff for the last time and return to Arusha. (B, L)