Mount Meru with 4566m above the sea level is the second highest mountain in Tanzania and the fifth highest in Africa. Mount Meru is located inside the Arusha National park which is closest park to Arusha town-northern Tanzania Safari capital. Mount Meru is a result of volcanic eruption which occurred about 250000 years ago after a massive volcanic blast blew away the entire eastern flank of the mountain and left it with the characteristic and distinctive appearance it has today. The mountain became well known mainly because it is only 70 km from Mount Kilimanjaro and has become a popular “warm up” trek for Kilimanjaro climbers. The mountain offers you a taste of what you can expect on Kilimanjaro as you trek in a group with porters, and guides, you climb through different vegetation zones over several days, you start your summit attempt around midnight and reach the peak around sunrise and then you descend an awesome 2000 meters on the same day, very similar to Kilimanjaro summit day.
Arusha National Park where mount Meru is located is about an hour’s drive from Arusha town to Momela gate. The start of the Mt. Meru climb, is about 15 km from the national park entrance. On Meru there is only one climb route and accommodation for climbers on Mount Meru is in two very well appointed big huts
Day 1: Hotel- Momela Gate
After breakfast you will be collected from your hotel and after a 45-minute drive, you will arrive at the Arusha National Park Gate. At the Momela gate, your guide will complete the obligatory entry forms and whilst he does so, you can peruse the information boards of the national park. Once the formalities have been completed and the hiking team consisting of porters from the surrounding villages is formed, you will then be driven a little further to Momella Gate. An armed park ranger will accompany you while you start your hike and get a first glimpse of the wonderful giraffes and buffalos. Once you have left the buffalo herds and giraffes behind, you will enter the acacia forest in which you will follow the southern route. After a steady 2-hour climb, you will reach Maio Falls and some picturesque meadows that are a perfect place for a picnic. After a rest, you will again be on your way and soon reach the well-known ‘Arched Fig Tree’ after another 1½ – 2 hours, you will reach the Miriakamba Hut to stay for dinner and overnight.
Day 2: Miriakamba Hut – Saddle Hut
In the morning after breakfast you will leave the Miriakamba Hut behind and follow a steep track with wooden steps upwards. Due to the gain in height, it will be noticeably cooler than the previous day and due to this, the hike will seem to get easier. The clouds also often hang in the rainforest and lush vegetation in a moody atmosphere. After approximately 2 hours, you will reach the vantage point ‘Mgongo wa Tembo’ (Elephant back) at an elevation of 3200m, where you will enjoy a well-earned break. After another hike in which the vegetation changes from rainforest into an airy bush land, you will reach Saddle Hut (3550m) at midday for a relaxing lunch break. During the afternoon, you have the option of a side trip to Little Meru (3820m) which takes approx. 1 – 1 ½ hours and from where you can have wonderful views of Arusha National Park and of the Kilimanjaro mountain. Back at the hut, you will have dinner and overnight waiting for the next day to climb to the summit.
Day 3: Saddle Hut – Socialist Peak – Miriakamba Hut
After an early breakfast, you will leave for the summit at 02:00 hrs. By torchlight, you will follow the trail through bush land to the so-called Rhino Point (3821m) in which the path turns into a little more challenging trek with occasional light climbs. You will follow the north ridge to the summit on which you walk on ground alternating between lava ash and rock. After 4 – 5 hours, you will reach to the summit. From the summit, you will be able to enjoy the sun rising above Kilimanjaro and the fantastic view of Mount Meru’s crater with its steep sides and the “Ash Cone” in the middle. The descent follows the same route back to Saddle Hut (3550m) where you will take a well-deserved long break and recuperate with hot soup and tea. Once refreshed, you will continue with the descent. During the early afternoon, you will reach Miriakamba Hut (2500m). At Miriakamba hut, you will have dinner and overnight.
Day 4: Miriakamba Hut- Momella Gate
After breakfast, you will follow a 2 – 3 hour trek over the so-called ‘Northern Route’ back to Momella Gate. The descent is shorter than the ascent but there is still the chance to see elephants, buffalos, giraffes as well as the black and white colobus monkeys. At the gate, winning hikers will be awarded certificates, you will say farewell to your hiking crew and your driver will take you back to Arusha.