Potential sources of danger that lurk on Mount Meru include weather, wild animals, and even altitude sickness, yes, you read that right. Mount Meru is the second highest mountain in Tanzania and it is high enough to cause AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) a few people experience mild symptoms sometimes. All of these dangers can easily be avoided if the right precautions are taken.
Arusha National Park is home to many wildlife species. When entering, hiking in, or leaving the park, you will undoubtedly witness several of them. There are certain animals that are more dangerous than others; elephants and buffalo are the most dangerous. There are also leopards and baboon gangs to watch out for.
Fortunately, the National Park will assign an armed ranger to safely guide you and your other tourists through the forest and up the mountain. His major responsibility is to keep you safe from wild creatures. This armed ranger will accompany you outside of the campgrounds at all times, and is required for all park visitors.
To guarantee your comfort and safety, bring along and wear appropriate clothing and gear. Gloves, a beanie, a wind- and waterproof jacket and leggings, a flashlight, and some light thermal underwear are advised for the summit. A strong pair of boots is recommended, although the hike can also be completed with running shoes.
The lower elevations of the mountain are generally warm, so bring light clothing. As you rise, the temperature steadily lowers, although it does not get too chilly.
- Once above Saddle Hut (3500m), the vegetation thins out, leaving you more exposed to the wind.
- The mountainside is also not a great place to be during thunderstorms, which should be avoided
- Fog and mist can reduce visibility.
- Temperatures at the summit don’t fall below 0 degrees Celsius, but there may be a thin layer of ice on the rocks on the summit, and with the wind it can be a cold place to be.
- The effect of the sun increases with altitude; remember to bring some high-factor sunscreen.
High altitude Sickness:
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a serious threat above 2500m. The only way of avoiding mountain sickness is to be properly acclimatized. Unfortunately, this can’t be done properly in the matter of the 3 day ascent to the summit, and you will most likely experience some symptoms of mountain sickness on the way to the summit. General advice is to walk slowly and take your time when going up the mountain.
The best precautions against mountain sickness is to know about it: read up on symptoms and effects of AMS in advance. Don’t hesitate to turn back and descend if you think you developing AMS.
There are some types of medicines that can aid acclimatization, such as Diamox. If considering using such a prophylactic, do proper research in advance, and understand that Diamox isn’t a cure for AMS.
Arusha National Park Management has several precautions and rules that should be followed:
- Hikers attempting to reach the summit should be physically fit.
- If you have breathing problems, do not attempt to climb the mountain, it is risky.
- Take enough time for body acclimatization by ascending slowly. Never rush!
- Do not force yourself to climb if exhausted or experiencing symptoms of mountain sickness.
- Climbers are advised to spend not less than 4 days and 3 nights to and from the summit.
- Always take the advice of the park guide; he knows more about the mountain than you do.
- Always go as a group; avoid ascending by yourself.
- Children under the age of 10 should not go beyond Miriakamba Hut and those under 16 should not go beyond Saddle Hut. (This rule doesn’t apply if parents/guardians sign a legal waiver.)
- The convenient time to start the summit ascent is 02:00 AM. During day time it is not advisable to ascend.
- Please do not litter the trail. Pack all trash and leave the park as clean as you found it.
The mountain climb permit is valid for 12 hours only (Daylight). (Whatever that means.)