Magnetized by Mount Kilimanjaro, the hikers often overlook Mt Meru, the second highest peak in Tanzania. Towering over Arusha National Park, Mount Meru offers an excellent warm-up exercise for Kilimanjaro, in addition to being a stunning trekking experience in the wild in its own right.
Mount Meru trekking is a real adventure. The slopes of this dormant (yet active – the last eruption was in 1910) volcano offer fascinating panoramic vistas and bustling wildlife around.
This volcano was “born” around 500,000 years ago, and its very first eruption virtually exploded its eastern side, creating its, peculiar appearance. In addition to that, Mt Meru has one of the deepest craters – over 1,500 meters!
There are several reasons to include Mount Meru in 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 African Tanzanite Safaris firmly believe that Mount 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 Mount 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 travelers.
Reason 2 – Rich wildlife
Nestled in Arusha National Park, Mount Meru is one of the few mountains of the world still densely inhabited by wildlife, which freely roams 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, the Mount Meru climb is quite an affordable activity. Because no tents are necessary (overnight stays on Mount 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 to 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.
The key features of the Mount 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 for acclimatization:
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 is responsible for carrying your luggage, camp organization, food preparation, etc.
Under the local customs, in order to promote employment, half of the porters crew should be hired from the Meru tribe, which live in the foothills of Mount Meru.
Overnight stays on Mount Meru are in huts only. In contrast to Kilimanjaro, where tented camping options are available on all routes but Marangu, on Mount Meru one should be ready to stay in huts only.
An armed ranger will be accompanying your party up to the summit camp. In order to make your stay in the wild safe and protect the animals from poachers, an armed ranger will be hiking with you up to Saddle Hut Camp (see itinerary below).