Mount Meru

Summit Kilimanjaro’s sister summit – Can be coupled with shorter Kilimanjaro climb

Ash cone of from peak of Mount Meru with Kilimanjaro in the background

Mt Meru is located about 50 miles (80 km) and towers 14,980 feet (4,565 m) above sea level. It is in the center of the Arusha National Park and offers a wonderful way to summit a second mountain in addition to Kilimanjaro. If this mountain is done first, your body will be adjusting to high altitudes, which will greatly reduce your odds of getting debilitating altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro.

In fact, you could do Mt. Meru AND one of the shorter routes (Rongai or Marangu) and could accomplish both peaks in just one day longer than the scenic Northern Circuit route. But do not think of Mt. Meru as just a boring “warm-up” hike. Mt. Meru definitely has a charm of its own.

Mt. Meru is the second highest mountain in Tanzania and the fourth highest in all of Africa. The experience of climbing Meru is quite similar to Kilimanjaro (through multiple climate zones, leveraging porters, great food, etc.). Although the peak is significantly lower than Kilimanjaro, your summit day will be similar and start in the middle of the night to arrive and sunrise and a full 2000 meter (6,000 feet) descent.

But the non-existent crowds make for much more wildlife. In fact, the hike itself starts off with a fully armed ranger escorting you and your guides. Along the way, you may get close views of wild animals such as elephants, zebras, giraffes, monkeys, antelope, and elephants.

The climb is best done in 4 days and will include a second smaller summit called “Little Meru”. Your summit attempt will be Day 3 where you climb to Rhino Points (3800m) then steeply to Cobra Point (4350m). The final part of the climb is a narrow ridge line right along the crater rim, which many consider one of the most incredible experiences in all of Africa.

And, since you have officially summited both Mt. Meru and Little Meru, you will be treated to two certificates (along with your Kilimanjaro summit certificate of course!).


Day 1: Mamela Gate (1,500 m/6,400 ft) to Miriakamba Hut (2,500 m/8,200 ft)

  • Hike time: 5-6 hours
  • Elevation change: + 1000 m / +3,280 feet
  • Estimated distance: 10 km / 6.2 miles
  • Final elevation: 2,500 m / 8,200 feet

During the morning around 8:00 am we will leave the hotel and head to Arusha National Park. We will have our permit and be assigned a fully armed ranger at Momela Gate. The ranger will escort us via a lower route so that we can see many wild animals including elephants, zebras, and giraffe, monkeys, antelope, and often elephants along the route. We will then arrive at Miriakamba hut for dinner and sleep for the evening.

Day 2: Miriakamba Hut (2,500 m/8,200 ft) to Saddle Hut (3,500 m/11,480 ft) then to Little Meru (3,820 m/12,529 ft)

  • Hike time: 4-5 hours
  • Elevation change: + 1,320 m / +3,280 feet, then -320 m / -1,049 feet
  • Estimated distance: 8 km / 5 miles
  • Final elevation: 3,500 m / 11,480 feet

After breakfast, we start hiking through the moorland and heather climate zones. This day of hiking is short but quite steep. The walk will take us slowly to Saddle Hut where we will stop and have lunch and rest for a while. During the late afternoon, we can make a short day-hike to reach the summit of Little Meru (3820 m/12,529 ft) for spectacular view of Meru Crater and its ash cone just before sunset (bring your camera for this!). Afterwards, we will head back to Saddle Hut for dinner and to sleep overnight at the camp.

Day 3: Saddle Hut (3,500 m/11,480 ft) to Socialist Peak (4,565 m/14,980 ft) to Miriakamba Hut (2,500 m/8,200 ft)

  • Hike time: 13-14 hours
  • Total Estimated distance: 18 km /11.2 miles
  • Elevation (ascent): +1,065 m / +3,500 feet
  • Elevation (descent): -2,065 m / -6,780 feet
  • Final elevation: 2,500 m / 8,200 feet

Approximately 1:00 am, right after cup of hot drinks we start to climb to Rhino Points (3800 m/12,470 ft), onward steeply to Cobra Point (4350 m/14,270). We will attempt to reach the summit at sunrise and there is a possibility we will see Kilimanjaro Peak above the clouds. The final part of the climb is along a spectacular narrow ridge line between the sheer inner cliffs and the sloping outer wall of the crater. After reaching the true peak, we will take some photos and a short break to enjoy the summit. Eventually we will head back down to Saddle Hut and have short rest and brunch. Then we will head back to Miriakamba Hut for our final evening of the hike.

Day 4: Miriakamba Hut (2,500 m/8,200 ft) to Mamela Gate (1,500 m/6,400 ft)

  • Hike time: 3-4 hours
  • Estimated distance: 8 km / 5 miles
  • Elevation change: - 1,000 m / -1,320 feet
  • Final elevation: 1,500 m / 6,400 feet

We take a short and fast descent through open grassland and mixed forest, with possibility of seeing wildlife before reaching Momela Gate in the late morning. Driver will meet us at Momela Gate where we will drive through Arusha National Park back to the hotel for hot shower.

Short on time and want to hit a Safari or get to Zanzibar for some relaxation?  Mount Meru will give you a true mountain experience in just 4 days.  Or pair this adventure up with a short route on Kilimanjaro and do both in about 10 days!  This route is much more rare, so don't go with just any guide!  We have experienced local guides that know exactly what it takes to safely summit Meru and organize a more complex Meru/Kilimanjaro adventure for you.  Contact us for more information. 

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