You’re heading to Tanzania and you’ve heard of Mount Kilimanjaro. However, did you know there was another option? Just a stone’s throw away is Mount Meru…and you might just find it’s a better fit for you.
Mount Meru Facts
- 70 km/ 50 miles from Kilimanjaro
- Located in Arusha National Park, northeast of Arusha, Northern Tanzania
- Volcano, last eruption was 1910
- Arusha – 1400m/4593ft
- Momella Gate – 1514m/4967ft (Distance to next stop – 10k)
- Miriakamba Hut – 2514m/8248ft (Distance to next stop – 8k)
- Saddle Hut – 3570m/11712ft (Distance to summit – 5k)
- Little Meru – 3801m/12533ft
- Summit – 4565/14977ft
- One route option
- Accommodation is in well kept, comfortable huts
- Two length options, 3 or 4 days
- Wildlife. We saw monkeys, birds, and a giraffe, and footprints of all the other big ones.
Who is it for?
Fit hikers who love summit sunrises.
If safari isn’t your thing and you need a break from vehicles.
You’re more adventure seeker than box ticker. ( I climbed a mountain! VS I climbed Africa’s tallest peak!)
You have days instead of weeks in Tanzania.
Your budget won’t accommodate the cost of climbing Kilimanjaro.
Anyone that wants to see Kilimanjaro in a unique and beautiful way.
Anyone that doesn’t like to cook for themselves.
What Will You Takeaway?
Certifications! You get a Certificate of Achievement for each summit you conquer.
Exercise! And acclimatization if you are continuing on to Kilimanjaro.
Broader experience of Tanzania
Accomplishment that only comes with achievement through physical struggle.
How do you get there?
Most likely you will book through a tour guide and they will pick you up at your hotel and get you to Momella Gate. Easy Peasy.
However if you do it my way, you can take a dalla dalla to Usa River, where I found a taxi driver that took me in. Much more complicated.
What You Need To Bring
Whatever “good hiking shoes” means to you. For me it’s boots that give me ankle support and protect the feet. I saw biting ants, big buffalo poops, rain, hail, ice, snow and very sharp rocks. Protect the feet.
Layers. It’s hot at the bottom and cold at the top. I claim super human resistance to most cold temperatures being from Minnesota, and with hiking I was comfortable even pre-sunrise with just my long sleeve button up and wool t-shirt baselayer. During breaks and possible rainstorms it’s advisable to have a rain jacket, thermal mid-layer, and poncho or other rain protection of your choice.
Sunscreen. If you’re a baby. I went the route of looking ridiculous and had handkerchiefs under my hat for ear/neck coverage, long sleeves, and pants. My nose still burnt, so maybe at least a little sunscreen.
Camera. Cell phones are great but I hope you’re not on the African continent without a decent camera. Personal preference.
Water. Start the first day with two liters, in bottles like Nalgenes. Your team will fill you up daily but at least two liters to start, and the plastic bottles aren’t allowed on the mountain.
Money. It’s expected to tip out your team, the ranger, etc. I’ll have to write an article on tipping in the future.
Small backpack. You won’t have to carry much, but you’ll have to carry something.
Headlamp/Torch/Flashlight. If you leave home without one of these, you’re crazy.
Personal Experience Advice
You may see wildlife and rogue pirates on your trek through the forest. Because of this, you will be required to walk with an armed ranger up the mountain.
Know ahead of time that even if you book alone, you likely won’t be alone. Groups and companies share this ranger and you may find yourself walking at the pace of the slowest person in the group. I felt this got more relaxed the higher the elevation as wildlife isn’t present.
Booze is awesome. But maybe not while climbing. I felt awful the night of starting the ascent, and it could have been any of the following:
- Lack of sleep
- Coffee before bed
- Reactive stomach to all food groups
- Or whiskey. At least save it the night before you go up, it’ll taste better when you finish
Weather changes fast, and mornings seemed to be clearest for summit. From my only time climbing, I noticed it was clearest at the top in the morning. We started late and walked slow, so I was on the top for about fifteen minutes before the clouds rolled in and covered it for the day. Descending I passed many people that would not have a view from the top at all.
Train a bit if you can. It’s pretty accessible to a lot of people but you’ll enjoy it more if you don’t have to stop for air all the time.
Think about your knees when you decide between the 3 or 4 day trek. 3-Day means three days climbing, one afternoon running down. The 4-Day allows you one more night to sleep, and your knees will thank you for it.
Sunrise does not need to be on the summit. However don’t start too late. I truly enjoyed being a little over halfway up when the sun exposed the world around us. Read my account in this story.
Mount Meru was undertaken as a business research trip. At least that’s how I rationalized it to myself. I hope to one day lead tours to Tanzania so others can experience it the way I have. I reached out to and made connections with tour owners, hotel managers, cultural tourism centers, the whole nine yards. In this instance, for the sake of research, I reached out to them to do it my way, aka cheaply. In my professional opinion, pay the little bit extra to hire a team and save yourself the trouble. Here’s a breakdown of my costs. For perspective, while hiking a couple of friends told me they paid $560 (pre tip) and I’ve seen as high as $1865 online. Some may even include the hotel the night before/after climbing. Best to get in touch with company and discuss rates.
- $20 Tip for the guy who set it up
- $10 Tip for the guy who met me & got me to the entrance
- $0.40 Dalla dalla from town to town where taxi’s are
- $25 Taxi into park
- $11.80 Taxi entrance fee
- $306.80 3 day/2 night entrance, ranger, extraction, etc fees
- $12 Snacks
- $3 Water
- $60 Tips for the guys who took me in
- $20 Tip and motorcycle for lost documents
- $90 Hotel before and after climbing ($45/night)
Total – $559
If you would like my resource guide on referrals for tour companies in Tanzania, contact me or sign up for my email mailing list on the home page and I can assist you in making a personal connection with those whom I’ve met and trust to take me through the country.