While Mount Kilimanjaro gets the bulk of the attention when it comes to climbing in Tanzania, there are other peaks that are worth considering too. Most prominent amongst them is Mt. Meru, which is found a short distance to the west of Kilimanjaro and serves as a great warm-up trek for those who have the time and are looking for an even bigger adventure.
Standing 4565 meters (14,980 feet) in height, Mt. Meru is a more approachable climb than Kilimanjaro and serves as a great stand alone hike in its own right. Many trekkers choose to use Meru as an acclimation hike prior to starting their trek up Africa’s highest peak. Doing so increases their chances of a successful summit on Kilimanjaro and can reduce the number of days needed to climb to the summit at Uhuru Peak.
Visitors to Mt. Meru are more likely to spot wildlife along the trail, particularly in the early days of the hike. Often times a ranger will accompany trekking groups on the first day of the journey to ensure they make it safely to the first campsite. From there, the route wanders up the north side of Meru’s volcanic crater, before approaching the true summit itself. At the top, the views are outstanding, particularly with Kilimanjaro gleaming tantalizingly in the distance.
Typically it takes four days to complete a trek to the top of Meru as even on this lower peak, acclimatization is the key to success. All trekking groups take the same route up the mountain, which begins at Momella Gate. Hikers will stay in a series of huts on their way to the top, with basic but comfortable accommodations located at two different campsites prior to the going to the summit, which is located at a place called Socialist Peak.
Climbing Mt. Meru offers two advantages to travelers. First, it allows trekkers a chance to experience what it is like to climb Kilimanjaro on a smaller scale, providing a grand adventure for those who don’t have a lot of time in their schedule or don’t want to deal with the higher altitude found on Kilimanjaro. But perhaps more importantly, it truly is a wonderful way to prepare for the larger challenges that they’ll face on Kilimanjaro, taking some of the mystery and acclimatization process out of the picture before ever stepping foot on the mountain.