Mt Meru (known by the Maasai as “Oldo inyo Orok” – The Black Mountain) is an active stratovolcano nestled in the expansive Arusha National Park, 45 km from Arusha town and 80 kilometres west of Mount Kilimanjaro.
At a height of 4565 metres (14977 ft) Mt. Meru is Tanzania’s second highest peak and the fifth highest on the African continent. Towering over the bustling town of Arusha, it comprises forest, heather, moorland and alpine desert zones and is considered to be one of Tanzania’s true gems.
The Eastern crater wall of Mount Meru was ruptured by a series of violent explosions a quarter of a million years ago. It is likely that these explosions were caused by the vent becoming blocked or by water from the crater lake seeping into it. This caused the whole eastern wall of the crater to be blown away sending a mass of water, mud, rocks and lava cascading down the eastern side of the mountain across the Sanya Plains almost as far as Moshi and covering parts of the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro.
Mt Meru Route
Day 1: Arusha to Momella Gate to Miriakamba Hut
Trekkers arrange their own accommodation and we meet in Arusha after breakfast. We drive to Momella Gate where we complete registration formalities and a national park ranger is assigned to accompany our group.
Setting off from Momella Gate, we take the southern route known for its abundant wildlife. The track passes through open grassland where there is the possibility of spotting buffalo grazing in one of the clearings. The fortunate few may see giraffe and elephants.
The forest section is especially scenic with strangler figs, wild mango, African olive and wild elder. Birdlife is abundant with common sightings of Hartlaub’s turaco, olive pigeon, white fronted bee eaters, fiscal shrike, stone chat, variable sunbirds and the tropical boubou. Trekkers with a keen eye will spot several species of butterflies such as the blue swallow-tail, soldier commodore, mocker swallow-tail, golden winged forester, emperor and forest mother of pearl.
We cross the Ngare Nanyuki river just above the Maio Waterfalls climbing steadily through lush montane forest until we reach the “Fig Tree” (famous for the roadway passing through it) where we enjoy our well deserved lunch.
After lunch, the canopy begins to thin and we encounter many forms of bird life and hear the grunting calls of the magnificent black colobus monkeys with their long ‘cape’ of white hair and a flowing white tail.
Around 2300m the higher montane forest begins and is home to juniper and podo trees while beautiful wild flowers such as the empetient species, red-hot poker, orchids, fire ball lily and gladiolus adorn the trail.
By mid-afternoon the path clears and we encounter the first close views of the towering cliffs of Mt Meru and the stunning ash cone. Miriakampa Hut, situated in idyllic grassy glade, is reached in time to enjoy the afternoon sun and beautiful views over the surrounding plains towards Kilimanjaro.
From here we can go on an evening game walk in hopes of watching some wildlife at one of the watering holes in the crater.
Day 2: Miriakamba Hut to Saddle Hut
The track from Miriakampa Hut to the saddle below Little Meru is a steep sustained trek that tests your legs. Our track takes us through beautiful and lush montane forest and striking tree species such as hygenium abyssinica, nuxia congesta, podocarpus, and hypericum tevolutum with mosses and lichens adorning the ground and trees.
Passing the halfway point of Mgongo wa Tembo (Elephant Back Ridge) we pass through giant heather and moorland vegetation, home to common shrubs such as erica arbores, stoebe kilimandscharica and leonits nepatifolia.
Around midday we reach the alpine zone of Saddle Hut where we rest, set up our bunks and enjoy a picnic lunch.
In the afternoon, trekkers feeling energetic can make the short climb to the nearby summit of Little Meru (3820 m/ 12,533 ft) for superb views of Socialist Peak and the steep winding trail that awaits us the next morning. The round trip ascent of Little Meru takes 1-1.5 hours.
At these higher altitudes we encounter magnificent birdlife including the bearded vulture soaring high above us, white- naked raven, lammerger, stonechat, alpine swift and cliff chat found around camp
Day 3: Saddle Hut to Summit to Miriakamba Hut
At around 3am we rise, put on all our warm clothes and enjoy a hot cup of tea or chocolate before setting out on the trail. The first hour is a steep climb to Rhino Point (3800m/12,467ft), and then the path continues along a narrow but spectacular ridge of ash and rock to reach Cobra Point (4350m/14,272ft).
The summit is now within our reach and after an hour of climbing and light scrambling over rocks and boulder we look up to see the summit flag beckoning us onwards and upwards.
Arriving at the summit we are greeted with stunning views of the crater rim, the spectacular ash cone rising from the crater floor, Kilimanjaro floating on the morning clouds just 70km away, and the Rift Valley in the distance.
After soaking up the magnificent vistas and celebrating our summit success we begin our descent where we may encounter the delicately-hoofed klipspringers bounding from rock to rock in the early morning light. The route back to Rhino Point in the sharp morning light traverses a narrow ridge between the sloping outer wall of the crater and the sheer cliffs of the inner wall is one of the most dramatic and exhilarating walks in Africa.
Arriving at Saddle Hut mid morning, we enjoy a sumptuous brunch before retracing our steps to Miriakamba Hut where we relax for the evening.
Day 4: Miriakamba Hut to Momella Gate – Arusha
After a leisurely morning we complete our 2-3 hour descent taking the direct route through open grassland and mixed forest, with good chances of seeing wildlife. The northern trail has excellent views back towards the crater, Momella Lakes and over the plains of the national park.
By late morning we reach Momella Gate and receive our summit certificates, say farewell to our crew and have time for a short picnic lunch and game drive before returning to Arusha for a well deserved shower and fresh clothes!
Mt Meru Inclusions/Exclusions
Included in tour:
|4 days / 3 nights