Often considered a warm up for Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru by its own right is a stunning mountain to climb. Mt. Meru is located in the heart of Arusha National Park and it is 50 miles west of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Standing at 14,980 feet (4,565 meters), Mount Meru is Tanzania’s second highest mountain. Although standing over a 1000 meters shorter than Kilimanjaro, Meru is an incredible free standing active volcano that offers views and wildlife sightings that is unparalleled in Tanzania. This trek is also geared towards hikers that prefer less crowds and a challenging ascent.
Because Mt. Meru is located in Arusha National Park, hikers must climb with an armed ranger due to the wide range of wildlife living on the mountain. On the lower slopes of the mountain, hikers are more likely to see elephants, giraffes, and buffalo! As hikers continue their ascents, the trail follows the north rim of the volcano’s crater along a dramatic ridge line. Throughout the climb, hikers sleep in designated huts along the trail. Hikers reach the summit as the sun is rising and they will have spectacular views of Mt. Kilimanjaro and of the Mt. Meru Crater.
Although the first accent of Meru is still disputed, it is widely accredited to either Fritz Jaeger in 1904 or Carl Uhlig in 1901.
Why Climb Mount Meru?
Even with its incredible views, scenery and wildlife, Meru is often overlooked due to its location. 70km away stands Meru’s big brother – Kilimanjaro. This means that most international visitors will either visit Meru as a secondary destination or warmup whilst some visitors will ignore it altogether. Although to climb Mount Meru as a warmup for Kilimanjaro is by no means a bad idea, Meru is a stunning trek by itself!
Lying within Arusha National Park, the lower reaches of Mount Meru are amazingly rich in wildlife. You are almost certain to see monkeys, warthogs, buffaloes and a wide array of birds and, if you’re lucky, elephants and giraffes! The crater rim walk is a spectacular hike and the 360 degree views from the summit of Meru are not to be missed, especially as you can see Kilimanjaro!
Another bonus of climbing Mount Meru is the lack of crowds that can sometimes plague Kilimanjaro. As its little known brother, Meru is a fantastic way to avoid this and get stuck into a peaceful trek.
Mount Meru Climbing Routes
Unlike Kilimanjaro, there is only one official route to the summit of Meru – the ‘Momella route’. Although there is a 3 day (8.7 mile) option, we discuss the longer, more popular 4 day (11.8 mile) climb. Generally we recommend climbing between June and February with December to February being the best months for clear views of Kilimanjaro.
- Recommended duration: 4 days / 3 nights
- Length: 38 km
- Altitude gain: 3066 m
- Grade: Moderate/Hard
- Start: Momela Gate
- End trek: Momela Gate
DAY BY DAY MOMELLA ROUTE ITINERARY
Day 1 – Momella Gate to Miriakamba Hut
Elevation – 1500m to 2500m. Time: 3 – 4 hours. Habitat – Montane Forest.
Depart morning after breakfast from the hotel in Arusha just 30 km drive to Momela Gate in Arusha National Park. After park clearing formalities starts climb accompanied with mountain guide porters and armed park ranger as the climbing trail passes to open grassland occupied with buffalo, giraffes, warthogs and other grazers. Trail continues as a steady climb through montane forest. Take lunch near a giant fig tree arch. After lunch the route continues through less dense forest, where found abundance of birds life with black and white colobus monkey.
At the mid afternoon you may view towering cliffs and the Ash Cone. Reaching Miriakamba Hut (2,514 m.) which situated in idyllic grassy glade, time to enjoy the last of the afternoon sun and beautiful views over the surrounding area. Dinner and Overnight at Miriakamba Hut.
Day 2 – Miriakamba Hut to Sadlle Hut
Elevation – 2500m to 3550m. Time: 3 – 4 hours. Habitat – Moorland
A walk from Miriakamba Hut to Saddle Hut below little meru peak is a short day walk but a steep climb. Slowly ascend through lush forest to reach the halfway point of Elephant Ridge. From here you enjoy excellent views of the summit ridge and across the crater floor. The path continues through giant heather and other fascinating moorland vegetation to reach Saddle Hut (3,570 m) where you will have lunch. In the afternoon is the free time to relax and enjoy the views but if still more energetic can make the short climb to nearby summit of Little Meru (3,820 m) for superb views just before sunset. Dinner and Overnight at Saddle Hut.
Day 3 – Saddle Hut to Socialist Peak to Miriakamba Hut
Elevation – 3550m to 4256m to 2500m, Time: 8 – 10 hours. Habitat – Semi Desert, Alpine Desert, Montane Forest.
Starting early morning to hike steeply side to Rhino Point (3,800 m) continue along an undulating ridge of ash and rock to reach Cobra Point (4,350 m) at sunrise. Stunning views in the cliffs of Crater rim and Ash Cone rising from Crater floor of Mount meru. Summit of Socialist Peak (4,566 m.) is an hour further on a good but steep path. Route back to Rhino Point in the morning light on a narrow ridge between the sloping outer wall of the crater and the sheer cliffs of the inner wall, one of the most dramatic and exhilarating walk. Enjoy breakfast short rest and lunch in Saddle Hut before descent to Miriakamba Hut (2,514 m. Dinner and Overnight at Miriakamba hut
Day 4 – Miriakamba Hut to Momella Gate
Elevation – 2500m to 1500m. Time: 2 – 3 hours. Habitat – Montane Forest
After breakfast descend to Momela gate taking 2-3 hours. The descend trail offers excellent views over the arusha park wildlife and vegetation reaching Momela gate to conclude adventure of 4 days climbing Mount Meru safari. Upon arrival to Momela Gate transfer back to hotel in Arusha for shower and relax or transfer to airport for flight or connect to other activities.