Ever wondered how it is on Mount Meru on a day-to-day basis? Well below is a description of how it usually is on trekking days on the mountain.
Arusha National Park Headquarters is located at Momella Gate, around 1500 meters above sea level. It’s also where Mt. Meru treks and walking safaris begin in the park. You’ll be greeted by your armed ranger, who will verify that you’ve paid your park fees. Several rangers will be on duty throughout peak season, and mountain walks will begin everyday at 10:00, 12:00, and 14:00. Expect to share a ranger with other groups, so don’t expect to be able to stroll at your own speed all of the time.
Because there aren’t many people hiking Mt. Meru in the off-season, there won’t always be an armed ranger available to accompany you up the mountain unless you’ve contacted the National Park ahead of time.
This implies that you may have to wait for a ranger for several hours. This is time that may be spent sitting on benches, conversing with TANAPA workers, or visiting the tiny shop (open 08:00-17:00) that offers water, soda, beer, snacks, and ice cream at “fair rates.” There are also restrooms available, as well as a replica of Mt. Meru that may be examined.
We were asked numerous times if we needed porters while waiting for our ranger, so if you need porters to carry up to 15 kg of your stuff, it’s simple to arrange. Porters are not required, and you are free to bring as much of your own luggage as you wish.
(We’ve read in a few places that you couldn’t carry more than 15 kg up Mt. Meru by yourself, but this is a fiction as far as we can determine.) We each carried approximately 20-25 kilos.)
Trekking from Momella gate to Miriakamba Hut
From Momella to Miriakamba Hut, there are two options. The northern path is the shortest and takes around 2-3 hours to get to Miriakamba. It begins by crossing an open plain, where buffalo, giraffes, and warthogs are frequently seen. The trail then climbs slowly up the slope, passing through grassland and woodland, until reaching Miriakamba Hut at 2514 meters.
The southern journey is more time-consuming, lasting anything from 4-6 hours.
This trail leads to the crater bottom via the vegetation before ascending steeply to Miriakamba Hut. The trail also goes beneath the Fig Tree Arch, which is an excellent spot to observe various wildlife.
Your armed ranger is likely to advise you to take the northern path, which is the quickest (and less work for both of you). However, the southern path is probably the most intriguing, and if you want to take that way, simply talk to your ranger about it. One alternative is to agree to take the southern path on the way down.
Miriakamba Hut has two sleeping lodges, a big communal eating area with observation platforms for Mt. Kilimanjaro, guide and porter accommodation, kitchens, and bathroom and cleaning facilities. The camp is maintained by hut keepers who stay for 15 days at a time. Both the peak of Mt. Meru and the Ash Cone may be viewed from the camp on a clear day.
Each sleeping lodge contains eight rooms, each of which can accommodate four people. The rooms include two bunkbeds with relatively decent mattresses and cushions, as well as a solar-powered ceiling light.
It’s a wonderful spot to dine and mingle with other hikers in the eating area. If the weather is clear, you can see Mt. Kilimanjaro from outside observation platforms.
Squat toilets and urinals are the only toilet options. There are washing basins with cold water and a shower.
The guides and porters each have their own room. If the guest lodges are filled, hikers will be placed in these rooms, and porters will be relegated to sleeping on the floor and benches in the eating area. A kitchen is also available to guides and porters. If you bring your own gas and cooking utensils, you might be able to use the kitchen, but don’t depend on it.
If you want to extend your journey, you may go to the Meru Crater Floor and return from Miriakamba. The Njeku Viewpoint, which offers breathtaking views of the Meru Crater, is reached through this trail.
Trekking from Miriakamba Huts to Saddle Hut
The walk continues from Miriakamba Hut to Saddle Hut (3500m) on the second day. The initial section of the climb is made up of wooden steps. The steps eventually fade away, and a dirt trail begins to flip back and forth over the slope.
The trek is mostly through lovely woodland, which thins out as you get closer to Saddle Hut. There are some great views into the Meru Crater from Mgongo Wa Tembo, or “the elephant’s back.”
This is your first day over 2500 meters, which means you may start to experience altitude sickness symptoms. Always remember to take your time and climb slowly.
Saddle Hut features three bunkhouses and much of the same amenities as Miriakamba Hut.
Little Meru Peak (3820m) is a lovely trek that takes approximately an hour to complete. If the weather is clear, it offers breathtaking vistas in every direction. It’s also an excellent climb for acclimatization. When you return to Momella Gate after reaching the summit, you will get a certificate!
Other animals to keep an eye out for around Saddle Hut are klipspringers and bushbucks.