Mount Meru is the second highest mountain in Tanzania and the fifth highest in Africa. Mount Meru is an active volcano located 70 kilometres (44 miles) west of Mount Kilimanjaro At a height of 4,566 metres (14,980 ft), it is still visible from Mt Kilimanjaro on a clear day. Much of its bulk was lost about 8,000 years ago due to an eastward volcanic blast, similar to the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in the U.S. state of Washington. Mount Meru most recently had a minor eruption about a century ago. The several small cones and craters seen in the vicinity probably reflect numerous episodes of volcanic activity.
Mount Meru is the topographic centerpiece of Arusha National Park. Its fertile slopes rise above the surrounding savanna and support a forest that hosts diverse wildlife, including nearly 400 species of birds, and also monkeys and leopards. Mount Meru is one of Africa's highest and most beautiful volcanoes. The route to the summit passes through parkland, montane forest, a giant heather zone and moorland. Finally, the summit is reached by a narrow, barren ridge which provides stunning views of the Ash Cone lying several thousand feet below in the crater and Kilimanjaro in the background. Over 400 species of birds, rhino, elephant, buffalo, baboon, warthog, black and white Colobus monkey and duiker are all found in this delightful 'gem amongst parks'. The visit to the Ngurdoto crater and Momella lakes, with their superb scenery, flamingoes and other wildlife, is an unforgettable experience.
The group will be accompanied on Mount Meru by a Park Guide and porters. On the mountain we use dormitory style huts. A sleeping bag and mat are required for the huts. Accommodation at Momella Lodge is an optional extra. Momella lodge is located in Arusha Park. This is a tough walking trip with some steep terrain. Mount Meru is a spectacular volcano. Once upon a very long time ago, it rose higher than Kilimanjaro; also heard this said about Mt. Kenya and the Ngorongoro Crater, so you may want to take this assertion with a grain of salt. However tall it once was, it certainly erupted sideways, rather like Mt. St. Helens, a few million years ago, leaving the northern, southern and western slopes intact, but obliterating the eastern slope of the volcanic cone. From above, Meru is now shaped like a horseshoe opening east, with a new tiny cinder cone forming in the bottom of the devastated crater, and huge cliffs extending up the crater walls almost to the summit. The crater floor and the lower slopes are densely forested, but the upper slopes are barren expanses of black volcanic ash and occasional massive boulders of lava.
At 4,566 m Mt Meru is the fifth highest mountain on the African continent and the second highest in Tanzania. About 250,000 years ago, a massive volcanic eruption blew away the entire eastern flank of the mountain and left it with the distinctive appearance it has today.
Mt Meru ascent passes through many different vegetation zones. The dry forest of the lower region changes to a dense mountain rainforest, which then turns into scrubland. Closer to the summit, vegetation becomes less and less and gives way to alpine terrain.
As the vegetation changes so does the wildlife. During the ascent, you might come across large game such as giraffes, buffaloes, baboons, colobus monkeys and antelopes. To be safe, it is obligatory to be accompanied by an armed park ranger on your tour.
Upon your arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport, you will be greeted and transferred to the Tulia Lodge, on the outskirts of Arusha. The rest of the day will be at leisure and you can just relax or explore the town of Arusha (taxi required). In the evening, you will attend a briefing in preparation of your upcoming trek. Dinner and overnight at the Tulia Lodge.
In the morning, you will be collected from your hotel in Arusha and after a scenic drive through the Arusha National Park you will reach the Momella gate. Once the formalities have been sorted out you will start from here. An armed park ranger will accompany you and right from the start you might spot giraffes and buffaloes as you walk through open grasslands. After approximately 2 hours you will reach the Maio Falls – the perfect spot to rest and have a picnic. Thereafter you will continue your trek to the well-known “fig tree arch”. After about another two hours your will arrive at the Miriakamba Hut in time for afternoon tea and snacks. The night will be spent at the Miriakamba Hut.
Breakfast; Lunch; Dinner
In the morning you will follow wooden steps along a steep track. Due to the gain in altitude, it will be noticeably cooler than the previous day and walking may seem easier. The clouds often hang low in the rainforest, creating a moody atmosphere in the lush vegetation. After going uphill for approximately 2 hours, you will reach the vantage point “Mgongo wa Tembo” (elephant back) at a height of 3,200 m, where you will enjoy a well-earned break. The vegetation now changes from rainforest to heather and moorland and you should reach Saddle Hut (3,550 m) at around midday. During the afternoon, you have the option to hike to Little Meru (3,820 m) which should take about 1 to 1½ hours. From here you will enjoy wonderful views of Arusha National Park and Mt Kilimanjaro about 80 km away. Back at Saddle Hut you will have a warm meal before you retire to bed early as your wake-up call with be just after midnight.
Breakfast; Lunch; Dinner
After a small snack and some tea, you will leave the camp at night. Lighting the way with headlamps, you will follow the trail through bush land to Rhino Point (3,821 m). From here the path becomes more challenging and occasionally climbing will be necessary. You will walk on volcanic ash, rocks and gravel, following the crater rim. After about 4 to 5 hours you should reach the summit, Socialist Peak. From here, you will experience the sun rising above Mt Kilimanjaro and enjoy the fantastic view of Mt Meru’s crater with its steep sides and the “ash cone” in the middle. The descent follows the same route back to Saddle Hut (3,550 m) where you will take a break and recuperate with hot soup and tea. Once refreshed, you will continue the descent and in the afternoon you reach Miriakamba Hut (2,500 m) – tired but happy.
Breakfast; Lunch; Dinner
After breakfast, you will follow the so-called “northern route” – a 2 to 3 hour trek back to the Momella gate. The descent follows a shorter route than the ascent but there is still a chance to see elephants, buffaloes, 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 the Green Hills of Africa where you will celebrate your achievement and spend the night.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Kilimanjaro Airport or alternatively you can extend your trip and go on safari.