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Tanzania Trekking - Mount Meru

Image - Mount Meru

Mount Meru

Mount Meru is the second highest mountain in Tanzania at 4,565 m. and the fifth highest in Africa. It is best to allow three days for climbing Meru since it involves a 3,500 m altitude trek. Advance permission from the park warden at Momela Gate must be granted before the ascent and it is necessary to take your own food and supplies. There are two huts available to climbers on the mountain and firewood is supplied. The best time to climb Meru is between October and February.The mountain is usually climbed from Olkokola on the western side of the crater and you need a park ranger as an escort due to the threat of buffalo.


The Momella Route Access

Mount Meru Ash Cone Arusha National Park consists of two main areas, the Ngurdoto Crater and Momella Lakes on the east side, and Mt Meru in the west, joined by a narrow strip of land. Momella Gate, the start of the trek, is at the centre of this narrow part.To reach Momella Gate turn north off the main Moshi - Arusha road one km east of Usa River Village. After about 10 km the track divides: the left fork (the Outer Road) crosses the park, but fees are not required for transit traffic; the right fork (the Park Road) goes through the park proper. The tracks rejoin at Momella Gate.There is no public transport to Momella Gate. Buses between Arusha and Moshi stop at Usa River, and from there you’ll have to hitch or walk.If you have a vehicle you can leave it at Momella Gate, although park fees will have to be paid on it. Vehicles can also be left at Momella Wildlife Lodge, for a more reasonable fee. The park office officially opens at 6 am.

Day 1:
Momella Gate to Miriakamba Hut (10 km, 4-5 hours, 1000 metres ascent) Two routes are available from Momella gate. The first is a track that goes through the forest towards the crater floor, and then steeply up to Miriakamba Hut with a possible diversion onto the crater floor. The second is a path that climbs gradually through the grassland, along the lower section of the northern spur of the crater, direct to the hut.

Day 2:
Miriakamba Hut to Saddle Hut (4 km, 2-3 hours, 1050 metres ascent) The path climbs steeply up between the trees reaching Topela Mbogo (Buffalo swamp) after 45 minutes and Mgongo Wa Tembo (Elephant ridge) after another half an hour. From the top of Elephant ridge there are great views down into the crater and up to the main cliffs below the summit. Continue up the path to Saddle Hut (3570 metres) on a wide col between the slopes of Meru and the smaller peak of Little Meru.

Miriakamba Hut

(2514 metres) is one hour from Kitoto Camp and consists of two large bunkhouses each with room for about 40 people. They contain bunk beds (most with mattresses) and a separate room to be used as a kitchen, although no cooking equipment is provided. There are toilets, and a good supply of water.

Saddle Hut

Consists of an old metal hut, used by the caretaker, and a newer bunkhouse similar to the ones at Miriakamba. There is a toilet and water available from a stream 10 minutes away.

Day 3: Saddle Hut to Meru Summit and Return
(5 km, 4-5 hours, 1000 metres ascent, plus 5 hours, 1000 metres descend) Leave Saddle Hut very early in the morning (about 2 to 3 am) to reach the summit in time to see the sun rising from behind Kilimanjaro . The walk up to the summit, along a very narrow ridge between the sloping outer wall to the crater and the sheer cliffs of the inner wall, is not for the faint hearted. If the sunrise is your main point of interest, there’s no need to go to the top. It’s just as impressive form Rhino point (about an hour form Saddle Hut), or ever more so because you also see the main cliffs of the inner wall of the crater slowly being illuminated by the rising sun. Even though it can be below freezing just before dawn, as soon as the sun comes up the going becomes hot and hard and during the rainy season, ice and snow can occur on this section of the route.Ideally combine sunrise at Rhino Point, then up to the summit for the views. From Rhino Point the path drops slightly then rises again to climb steeply round the edge of the rim over ash scree and bare rock patches. Continue for three to four hours to reach the summit (4566 metres). To the west, if it’s clear, you can see towards the Rift Valley, and the volcanoes of Kitumbeini and Lengai, while down below you can see the town of Arusha, and the plains of the Maasai Steppe beyond.To descend from the summit, simply retrace the route round the rim, back to Saddle Hut (two to three hours).

Day 4
Saddle Hut to Momella Gate

Saddle Hut

(9 km, 3-5½ hours, 2000 metres descend)
From Saddle Hut, retrace the route of Day 2 to reach Miriakamba Hut after 1½ to three hours, or take a more direct route down the ridge which lead almost directly to Momella gate (1½ to 2½ hours). This direct route goes through forest for some of the way, then through open grassland, where giraffe and zebra are often seen.

Day 3: Saddle Hut to Meru Summit and Return
(5 km, 4-5 hours, 1000 metres ascent, plus 5 hours, 1000 metres descend) Leave Saddle Hut very early in the morning (about 2 to 3 am) to reach the summit in time to see the sun rising from behind Kilimanjaro . The walk up to the summit, along a very narrow ridge between the sloping outer wall to the crater and the sheer cliffs of the inner wall, is not for the faint hearted. If the sunrise is your main point of interest, there’s no need to go to the top. It’s just as impressive form Rhino point (about an hour form Saddle Hut), or ever more so because you also see the main cliffs of the inner wall of the crater slowly being illuminated by the rising sun. Even though it can be below freezing just before dawn, as soon as the sun comes up the going becomes hot and hard and during the rainy season, ice and snow can occur on this section of the route.Ideally combine sunrise at Rhino Point, then up to the summit for the views. From Rhino Point the path drops slightly then rises again to climb steeply round the edge of the rim over ash scree and bare rock patches. Continue for three to four hours to reach the summit (4566 metres). To the west, if it’s clear, you can see towards the Rift Valley, and the volcanoes of Kitumbeini and Lengai, while down below you can see the town of Arusha, and the plains of the Maasai Steppe beyond.To descend from the summit, simply retrace the route round the rim, back to Saddle Hut (two to three hours).

Day 4
Saddle Hut to Momella Gate

Last Updated on Thursday 26th November 2009

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