If the challenge of scaling one summit isn’t enough for you on a walking holiday, why not consider tackling two? Tanzania might be most famous for Mount Kilimanjaro, but the country is also home to Mount Meru, another volcano that it’s possible to climb.
At 4,562 m, Mount Meru is the smaller of the two, so it’s this volcano that you’ll trek up first. One of the big advantages of choosing to take on this walk ahead of your Kilimanjaro climb is that it will help you acclimatise to being at a high altitude, which means you will improve your chances of reaching Uhuru Peak (Kilimanjaro’s highest point) successfully.
Opting to do the Mount Meru trek before attempting to summit the Roof of Africa is just one of the ways to climb Kilimanjaro – as there are six routes up Tanzania’s tallest mountain, you have plenty of other options if you don’t have long enough to do the two treks.
Mount Meru – a warm-up for the Kili climb
Although Mount Meru makes an excellent warm-up for your ascent of Kilimanjaro, it is also worth climbing in its own right. There are excellent wildlife spotting opportunities in the early stages of this walk, with the likes of giraffes and elephants often seen on the grassland and in the forest that you’ll hike through on the first day of your trek.
The views across the crater of Mount Meru are spectacular, particularly as you climb higher. One thing you shouldn’t miss is the optional walk to the summit of Little Meru, from where you can see the crater’s sheer walls and the bed of the horseshoe-shaped crater below.
Reaching the summit of Mount Meru on the third day of trekking is really special, though, as you’ll hopefully arrive in time to see the sunrise behind Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance – a spectacular view that you’ll remember forever. After descending from Meru, you’ll typically have a half day of walking before you are driven to the starting point for your Kilimanjaro climb.
Mount Kilimanjaro – the big challenge
One of the best routes to follow to the summit of Kilimanjaro after successfully completing the Mount Meru trek is the Rongai trail. This will give you six days on the mountain (five for the ascent and one for the descent), so you won’t be rushing your hike. This particular track is less crowded than some of Kilimanjaro’s other paths and is the only one to approach the mountain from the north.
It still has a real sense of wilderness about it, which only serves to enhance your experience when climbing the mountain. There is some spectacular scenery on this route up Kilimanjaro, too, with the track leading you through vast swathes of moorland, verdant pine forests and a desolate lunar-type landscape as you get closer to the summit.
On the day that you push up to Uhuru Peak – Kilimanjaro’s highest point at 5,896 m – you’ll aim to reach Gilman’s Point on the crater rim, which is a little lower than the peak itself, in time to see the sunrise. Once the sun is up, you’ll continue to the top of the Roof of Africa, where you can admire the vast plains that spread out around the volcano, see Mount Meru in the distance and get a close-up look at some of the glaciers and ice cliffs that are found near the summit.
There’s no doubt that tackling Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro on one trip is physically demanding, but it’s an incredibly rewarding experience and an excellent way to really test yourself on a trekking holiday.