After landing at Kilimanjaro International Airport late in the evening, we were welcomed by Mwinyi, our guide and companion for the next two weeks. He drove us to a neat B&B in Moshi, called “The Hibiscus”. There we spent the night before our Meru trekking, and later also a night before going to Kilimanjaro. The place is nice, clean and friendly, located in the outskirts of Moshi town.
Climbing Mt.Meru normally takes 4 days. The mountain is located inside Arusha National Park. You are required to hire an escort of an armed NP ranger for the climb, as you are traversing a habitat of some quite dangerous wild animals. There are two large mountain huts on the way to the top. The first one is called Miriakamba Hut (2500 m asl), and the second one is called Saddle Hut (3500 m). Due to these available shelters, there is no need to carry tents on this trek. Our team consisted of the guide (Mwinyi), the cook (Dixon), and four porters, plus hired NP ranger. We shared the ranger with another Spanish tourist and his guide (Moses), so we made the whole trek together.
On the first day, we started our trek at Momella gate at around 1,500 m asl. The path climbed steadily through beautiful forest, passing many streams and small waterfalls. In the forest we saw some black-and-white colobus monkeys. At one point, track passes through the famous Fig Tree Arch, formed on the base of an enormous fig tree. We reach Miriakamba Hut (2,514 m) after about 3 and a half hours. We were settled in a room with bunk beds in one of the huts, and our cook prepared us a dinner. It was quite cold on that altitude.
The second day, mountain path lead us again through charming mountain forests, along the ridge above the ancient Meru crater, up to the Saddle Hut (3,566m), located on the saddle between Little Meru and Mount Meru. We saw a cute little chameleon on that path. In the beautiful morning, we had Kilimanjaro rising above the clouds behind us and the beautiful peak of Mont Meru towering in front of us the whole time of the climb.
In the afternoon, we climbed to the near peak of Little Meru (3,820m) for acclimatization, before tomorrow’s ascent to the main peak.
On the third day, the final ascent to the summit started at 2 AM. We climbed with our headlamps on. The ascent is quite a bit more challenging than that of Kilimanjaro. There are some rocky sections that require the use of your hands and can be a bit tricky in the darkness of the night. The final stretch was very exhausting for me, as I probably didn’t drink enough liquids during the climb. We reached the summit just before the majestic sunrise behind the Kilimanjaro. It was bitterly cold, when the first rays of the morning sun greeted us on the summit.
In the morning we descended back to the Saddle hut, and later to Miriakamba Hut, where we spent the third night on the hill. The next morning we descended back to Momella Gate. In this section, we had a proper “walking safari”. We passed few herds of buffaloes, grazing on the mountain pastures (which made our ranger and porters quite nervous), some warthogs, zebras, and giraffes.