Situated roughly 70km Southwest of Kilimanjaro and East of the Great Rift Valley, Mount Meru last erupted in 1910 and can therefore still be classed as an active volcano (although dormant). Exploding into life over 500,000 years ago, Meru’s horseshoe rim is very distinctive as the entire eastern flank was blown apart by the explosion. Not only is Meru the fourth highest mountain in Africa, but its rim lined crater extends down 1,500 meters to the crater floor making it one of the tallest cliffs in Africa. Because of the abundance of wildlife on and around Meru, it is compulsory to be accompanied by an armed ranger on your trek at all times.
Although the first accent of Meru is still disputed, it is widely accredited to either Fritz Jaeger in 1904 or Carl Uhlig in 1901.
Why Climb Mount Meru
Even with its incredible views, scenery and wildlife, Meru is often overlooked due to its location. 70km away stands Meru’s big brother – Kilimanjaro. This means that most international visitors will either visit Meru as a secondary destination or warmup whilst some visitors will ignore it altogether. Although to climb Mount Meru as a warmup for Kilimanjaro is by no means a bad idea, Meru is a stunning trek by itself!
Lying within Arusha National Park, the lower reaches of Mount Meru are amazingly rich in wildlife. You are almost certain to see monkeys, warthogs, buffaloes and a wide array of birds and, if you’re lucky, elephants and giraffes! The crater rim walk is a spectacular hike and the 360 degree views from the summit of Meru are not to be missed, especially as you can see Kilimanjaro!
Another bonus of climbing Mount Meru is the lack of crowds that can sometimes plague Kilimanjaro. As its little known brother, Meru is a fantastic way to avoid this and get stuck into a peaceful trek.
Climb Mount Meru to Prepare for Kilimanjaro
With the above said, Meru is of course a great way to prepare for Kilimanjaro as it gives you a little taster as to what to expect on the bigger mountain.
The most important thing Meru prepares you for is altitude acclimatization. Do not underestimate Meru as it is a challenging climb! It is certainly high enough to bring on altitude sickness. At a height of 4,566m, Meru is a tall mountain in its own right and forces your body to make changes to adapt to the altitude. Please click here for a full guide on how to deal with acclimatization.
Not only this, but like Kilimanjaro, you travel in a group with porters carrying your gear and move up through several vegetation zones in 1 day. Similar to Kilimanjaro, you trek the summit at night, reaching the peak just before sunrise. You then descend an amazing 2000m on the same day! All these similarities allows your body (and your mind) to prepare for Kilimanjaro.
Climb Mount Meru – The Route
Unlike Kilimanjaro, there is only one official route to the summit of Meru – the ‘Momella route’. Although there is a 3 day (8.7 mile) option, we discuss the longer, more popular 4 day (11.8 mile) climb. Generally we recommend climbing between June and February with December to February being the best months for clear views of Kilimanjaro.