Meru Moutain Climbing

Mount Meru (4,562 meters)  is Tanzania‘s second-highest peak after Mount Kilimanjaro and the fourth-highest mountain in Africa. It’s located in northern Tanzania at the heart of Arusha National Park, where it has remained dormant for over a century. On a clear day, you can see Mount Kilimanjaro from Mount Meru, as the two iconic peaks are separated by a distance of just 43 miles/70 kilometers. The first successful ascent on record is still in dispute. It is credited to either Carl Uhlig in 1901 or Fritz Jaeger in 1904 – both Germans, reflecting the power of colonial Germany over Tanzania at the time.

Mount Meru is a serious three to four-day trek and although it is often used as a practice run by those hoping to summit Kilimanjaro, the smaller mountain is actually the more technical. A guide is mandatory on every trek and there is only one official route up to the summit. The route is well marked with huts along the way offering simple, comfortable beds. Unofficial routes on the west and northern sides of the mountain are illegal. Acclimatization is important, and while you won’t need oxygen, spending at least a few days at altitude before attempting the climb is highly recommended. 

The best time to trek is during one of the dry seasons (June to October or December to February).

Mount Meru’s official route is named the Momella Route. It starts on the eastern side of Mount Meru and ascends along the northern rim of the crater to Socialist Peak, the summit. There are two routes to the first hut, Miriakamba (located at 8,248 feet/2,514 meters). You can choose between a shorter, steeper ascent or a slower, more gradual climb. A four to six-hour walk the next day brings you to Saddle Hut (at 11,712 feet/3,570 meters), with good views of the crater along the way. On day three, it takes approximately five hours to summit and returns to Saddle Hut in time for lunch, before continuing down to Miriakamba for the final night. 

Guides are mandatory for every trek up Mount Meru. They are armed and are there to protect you from the mountain’s abundant wildlife (including buffalos, leopards, and baboons). Porters are not mandatory but make the trek more enjoyable by helping to carry your equipment. Each porter carries up to 33 pounds/15 kilograms. You can hire both porters and guides at the Momella Gate, but it’s a good idea to book in advance by at least a day. If you’re trekking with an operator, these services are usually included in the price. 

Ask around for tipping guidelines as hiker tips make up a significant percentage of the total income for the mountain’s guides, porters, and cooks. 

On Mount Meru itself, Saddle Hut and Miriakamba Hut provide the only accommodation. Huts fill up well in advance, so if you’re planning to trek during the high season (December to February) it is often prudent to pack a lightweight tent. Recommended accommodation in and around Arusha National Park includes Hatari LodgeMeru Mbega LodgeMeru View Lodge and Meru Simba Lodge

Mount Meru is located inside Arusha National Park. Most visitors fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport, which is 60 kilometers/35 miles away. Alternatively, the city of Arusha is a 1.5-hour drive from the park. You can reach Arusha by domestic flight or long-distance bus from several locations in Tanzania and Kenya. Your tour operator will usually provide transportation to the mountain from either Arusha or Kilimanjaro International Airport. If not, you can hire a local taxi or rent a car.

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