MOUNTAINS AND TREKKING
Tanzania is blessed with most spectacular peaks and hiking points around eastern Africa, those seeking adventure will have a wide variety of option to choose from. The most intriguing of them all is the hike up Uhuru peak on the Kilimanjaro national park.
Mount Kilimanjaro attracts a lot of visitors annually who seeks the adventure of conquering the highest peak in Africa. Mount Kilimanjaro has different routes to the peak at 19340 feet (5895 meters) above sea level. The most popular routes being Marangu and Machame route, with Rongai and Shira plateau are also widely used by several Kilimanjaro outfitters.
Machame: Machame is quickly becoming the second most popular route. More scenic, and steeper in parts than Marangu, this route is best done in 7 days, but can also be done in 6 days by the fit adventurer.
Which route? Each route is unique in its own way:
Marangu: Marangu approaches Kilimanjaro from the southeast. It is the oldest and most established route. Many favor the Marangu route because it is considered to be the easiest route on the mountain, given its gradual slope and direct path.
Umbwe: Steep, direct, and considered the most difficult route up Kilimanjaro, Umbwe is only recommended for advanced climbers. Approached from the south, the fast ascension forced by this route can hinder proper acclimatization.
Rongai: Rongai route is the only route that you can climb from the north of Mt. Kilimanjaro, close to the Kenyan border. With its starting point at a higher altitude, a trek on the Rongai route is short and with less traffic than Marangu.
Lemosho: An improvement upon the Shira route, Lemosho is the longest route on Kilimanjaro, and provides beautiful panoramic views from various sides of the mountain.
West of the famous Mount Kilimanjaro lies is a spectacular volcanic mountain- Mount Meru. At 14,980 feet (4,565 m) high, Meru serves as a great warm up to Mount Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft/5,895 m). Mount Meru is ideal for altitude acclimatization and you may select to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with a lower number of days after climbing Meru. Mount Meru is part of the Arusha National Park, a beautiful area with a wide range of habitats teeming with wildlife. On the lower slopes of the mountain and inside the park, there is a good chance of spotting animals like big herds of buffaloes, waterbuck etc. All walking and treks are accompanied by an armed ranger this is especially on the early stages of the climb to protect you against any wildlife threats.The trail follows the north rim of the crater, along a dramatic ridgeline. Once at the summit, the views of Mount Kilimanjaro and down into Meru crater are unforgettable. Many people who climb both mountains have a quiet preference for the humble Mount Meru.Although about 4,000 feet lower than Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru is still a very tall mountain. Do not underestimate Mount Meru. Altitude acclimatization is still the key to a successful summit.
We cater for two different itineraries, one for 4 days and for 3 days. All breakfast and dinner plus accommodations while climbing Meru are in wood huts.
Full Itinerary: Mount Meru Climb
Day 1 Arusha – Momella Gate (4921’/1500m) – Miriakamba Hut (8202’/2500m)
In the morning, you will be collected from your hotel and brought to Arusha National Park Gate and then onwards to Momella Gate. An armed park ranger will accompany you while you start your hike and get a first glimpse of the giraffes and buffalo.After you leave the wildlife behind, you will enter an acacia forest. After a couple of hours, 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.
Day 2 Miriakamba Hut (8202’/2500m) – Saddle Hut (11,647’/3550m)
In the morning, you will leave the Miriakamba Hut behind and follow a steep track with wooden steps upwards. The clouds often hang in the rainforest and dip the 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 Mount Kilimanjaro (approx. 80 km away). Back at the hut, a warm dinner is waiting for you before you will have the final preliminary talk in preparation for the following day’s climb to the summit.
Day 3 Saddle Hut – Socialist Peak (14,967′/4562m) – Miriakamba Hut (8202′/2500m)
After an early start with tea and biscuits, 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. You will follow the north ridge to the summit on which you walk on ground alternating between lava ash and rock. After approx. 4 – 5 hours, you will have the summit and the Tanzanian flag in your sights.
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) – tired but happy. Evening meal and overnight stay at Miriakamba Hut (2500m).
Day 4 Miriakamba Hut (8202′/2500m) – Momella Gate (4921′/1500m)
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, you will say farewell to your hiking crew and your driver will take you back to Arusha.
Mountain Lenkai (normally known as “Ol’doinyo Lengai”) rises about 2,100 meters above the East African Rift Valley floor to a height approximately 2,880 m. The name Ol’doinyo Lenkai which means “Mountain of God” originates from the Maa language (the Maasai’s language) from Ngorongoro area. The Maasai people conduct prayers to God “Enkai” or “Engai” whom the Maasai believe is the Creator of all things on this active volcanic mountain.
Ol’doinyo Lenkai is the only active volcanic mountain in the East African Rift Valley Region which attracts many geologists from all over the world who come for research. Scientifically, carbonated lava is dark brown upon extrusion, but reacts very rapidly and turns into moisture to hydrate, then to secondary alteration minerals that impart a white colour to the rock. The Maasai believe that the “white rock” symbolizes the white beards of “Enkai”.
Many tourists visit and climb this mountain which is located in Northern Tanzania every year. One should not underestimate this 9,442 feet long mountain, as it needs much determination to climb because of the steep walking. However, climbing Ol’doinyo Lenkai doesn’t require technical skills to get to the peak. At the summit, the small cones formed by lava can be seen on the crater rim. Despite the fact that Ol’doinyo Lenkai’s volcano erupts frequently there are no records of injuries or deaths. Geologists tell that Ol’doinyo Lenka’s lava is not as hot as other volcanoes lava recorded in the world. It takes three days to the summit of Ol’doinyo Lenkai.
After a climb to Lenkai, the company advices tourists to spend sometime and take a tour around Lake Natron. Lake Natron is the largest lake in East Africa which accommodates numerous flamingos and other birdlife.
Zebras, elephants, giraffes, can be viewed on the walking safari from Ngare-Sero, Engaruka to Loliondo accompanied by armed rangers.