The 3 Day Mount Meru Climb & Hike is the best for acclimatization prior to Mount Kilimanjaro climbing; The Mountain is the third highest peak in Africa and is the second highest mountain in Tanzania at 4,568m.
The mountain is located within Arusha National Park, Tanzania’s gem. This prime location gives trekkers the chance to spot some of the wildlife that inhabits the area.
Arrive at the Kilimanjaro International or similar Airport, pick up and transferred to the Springlands Hotel or similar hotel in Moshi or Arusha for overnight bed and breakfast.
Mount Meru 3 days Itinerary
Day 1: Arusha (1400m) – Miriakamba Hut (2500m)
Duration: 5-7 hours of hiking
After early morning breakfast in Arusha (1400m), you will be picked up from your hotel and brought to the Momella Gate in Arusha National Park. At this time, the porters will organize and pack the belongings for the hike while you and your guide register with the Tanzania National Park (TANAPA). You will then begin your ascent in Arusha National Park. The first day of hiking is similar to a walking safari; you should expect to see giraffes, zebras, antelope, buffalo, and potentially elephants near the trail. Due to the high possibility of spotting wildlife, an armed ranger, hired through the National Park, is required to hike with our team for the duration of the hike. As you continue hiking, you will pass the Ngarenanyuki River and a beautiful waterfall at the base of Mt. Meru. Upon arriving at Miriakamba Hut (2500m), your chef will prepare a hot dinner and washing water for you. Enjoy the beautiful sunset and overnight.
Day 2: Miriakamba Hut (2500m) – Saddle Hut (3500m)
Duration: 3-5 hours of hiking
After breakfast, you will start ascending up the steep trail along the ridge of the saddle. You may see various wildlife along the way! The trail has views of Mt. Meru Crater and the Ash Tray. When you arrive at camp, you have the option of hiking Little Mt. Meru (3820 m) with your guide to further acclimate. You will be served an early dinner, so you can receive ample rest before your midnight summit attempt. Get to sleep by 19h00!
Day 3: Saddle Hut (3500m) – Summit Attempt (4566m) – Miriakamba Hut (2500m)
Duration: 12-14 hours of hiking
Your guide will wake you at 00:30 A.M for tea and biscuits. You will then begin your summit attempt at 1:30 A.M. The trail starts off on a steep grade from Rhino Point (3800m) to Cobra Point (4350m). In the last hour of the hike, you will scamble on a rocky ridge between the crater and inner cliffs of Meru. You will reach the summit of Meru (4565m) at sunrise with spectacular views of Mt. Meru Ash Tray and Mt. Kilimanjaro. Enjoy your views then descend to Saddle Hut for a short break. We take a short break and brunch at Saddle hut before continuing the descent to the Momella gate. Your transfer vehicle will be waiting for you at Momella gate ready to pick you at your hotel in Moshi or Arusha.
From $ 850 Per Person
How to get to Mount Meru
Mt. Meru is located in Arusha National Park, which may be reached in a variety of ways. The Ngongongare Gate, about 10 kilometers north of Usa River, is the most often utilized entry and major gate to Arusha National Park.
Usa River is a tiny hamlet between Arusha and Moshi on the A-23 route, not far from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). Momella Gate, the beginning site of the Mt. Meru trek, is 17 kilometers from the Ngongongare Gate.
On the A-23, about 1 km east of “downtown” Usa River, the route to Arusha National Park is indicated at the turn-off.The approximately 10-kilometer road leading to the park is paved for the most part, but before you reach the Ngongongare Gate, it becomes a gravel road.
Mount Meru FAQ's and Information
Mount Meru is located in north eastern Tanzania. Mount Meru is one of Africa’s best trekking routes due to the incredible views from its crater.
Like Kilimanjaro, Meru is an active volcano, but its last minor eruption was over a century ago in 1910. Millions of years ago a major eruption blew off the top of the volcano, giving it a horseshoe shape. Its summit collapsed around 7,800 years ago and much of the volcano’s bulk was lost.
It was first summited in the early 20th century by German explorers during their colonisation of East Africa, although it is disputed whether the first successful expedition was led by Carl Uhlig in 1901 or Fritz Jaeger in 1904.
The mountain is sometimes confused with Meru Peak, a mountain in the Himalayas. However, Mount Meru in Tanzania is a safer climb, and it offers an attainable challenge for trekking enthusiasts.
The best climbing conditions are present during the dry seasons: June to October and December to February.
June to October will be slightly colder, as January and February are the hottest months of the year.
It will still be very cold at the summit (below 0°C), but we can advise you on what equipment to bring to face any temperature changes.
Mount Meru takes 3-4 days to summit. We recommend the longer version since it allows you to acclimatize better and enjoy the scenic views at a more leisurely pace.
The 3-day trek is also very hard on your knees as you descend within a single day.
Unlike Kilimanjaro treks, Meru treks follow a single trail called Momella Route. There used to be two other paths, but these are now illegal to use.
You will stay in two huts, Saddle Hut and Miriakamba Hut, which offer basic but clean accommodation. These can fill up very quickly in the high season, so we will ensure that we provide you with tents.
A guide is obligatory for all trips and porters are recommended but not compulsory. Booking a porter will ensure that your trek is more enjoyable.
During your trek you will reach two summits, Little Meru, and Socialist Peak. The final ascent will be done in the early hours so that you can watch the sunrise at Socialist Peak.
The walk along the crater and the view from the summit is unforgettable, and you can see Kilimanjaro in the distance on a clear day.
If you want to experience smaller, less time-intensive treks, we also organise several beautiful hikes along the slopes of Meru.
Let’s now look at what you need to bring along for a safe and comfortable Mt Meru climb …
1. Carrying equipment
You need to bring the following carrying equipment to Mt Meru:
- A backpack (between 35 and 50 litres)
- A backpack rain cover
- Dry bags
- A duffel bag (between 65 and 100 litres)
- A hydration pack (water bladder)
- A water bottle
Here’s a little more detail on each of the above important items …
This is the bag that you carry on your back while on each day’s hike. All the items that you might need during the day go into this bag, including your snacks, drinking water, camera and extra layers of clothing.
It’s important you make an educated decision as to what backpack to bring. Really good, quality backpacks have an internal frame. They also have padded shoulder and hip straps, as well as sternum straps.
You should also look for a pack with a suspended mesh back, as this allows your body heat to escape. This is something that’s especially important on those warmer days lower down the mountain.
Ideally, you want a backpack with a large (2 to 3ℓ) built-in hydration pack that allows you to drink from a hose.
Some backpacks also come with their own fitted rain cover, which is useful.
Further, if you intend to bring along trekking poles, see if there are hooks for attaching these to the exterior when you want your hands to be free.
Do training hikes with your backpack
As we discuss in How should I train for Kilimanjaro? (which is a similar adventure to Meru, just a little shorter and easier), you should do some training hikes using your backpack. In this way you can ensure the backpack is comfortable.
On these training hikes, we recommend that you also carry all the water and other items that will go into it on your Mt Meru climb to get used to the weight.
Backpack rain cover
We highly recommend you pack a rain cover that’s fitted to your backpack, even if your backpack is water-resistant. Nobody needs the added challenge of carrying a sopping, heavy backpack when tackling a mountain like Mt Meru.
Many outdoor backpacks come with a built-in rain cover. This is really useful, as you stand no chance of forgetting it! It’s also perfectly sized to your backpack.
Our very own Bobu sporting a nicely fitting backpack rain cover
In an attempt to reduce pollution, the Government of Tanzanian has prohibited any plastic carrier bags from entering the country. You’re therefore advised to avoid having plastic carrier bags in any of your luggage.
You’re not allowed to bring single-use plastic bags into Tanzania.
While your backpack rain cover should keep the contents of your bag dry, it’s a good idea to also bring along some dry bags. These are useful for:
- Protecting clothes in case there’s a leak in your bag
- Storing worn, sweaty clothes
Your duffel bag – or any other soft bag – contains everything else you need for the climb, including your sleeping bag.
Your duffel bag is carried by one of the porters in your mountain crew and should weigh under 14 kg (31 lb).
Please don’t bring a stiff bag like a suitcase, or anything too precious, as it could get a bit squished when carried by the porter. It’s also not as comfortable or easy for the porters to carry.
Ensure at the start of every day that you’ve put what you might need for that day’s climate in your backpack. You’ll also carry your own water and food. Everything else must fit into your duffel bag.
Your backpack is needed just for storing your stuff for that day’s hike
2. Water carriers
When packing for Mt Meru we recommend you include the following water carriers:
- A built-in hydration pack with drinking hose
- Two or more one-litre water bottles with secure lids
We cannot over-stress how important it is to have enough water to drink while on your climb. Not only are you being very active and so need to hydrate, but water also helps to ease the symptoms of altitude sickness.
Every trekker should carry two to three litres of water per day.
Most hiking backpacks have capacity for a hydration bag (also called a water bladder). Some even have a built-in hydration pack. A well-known brand of hydration packs is the CamelBak.
Hydration packs come with a drinking hose attached, which is really great. This means that instead of reaching for a water bottle when thirsty, you can just pick up the mouthpiece and drink from there.
You should take sips of water often on your Mt Meru climb – if you’re thirsty, then you’re already dehydrated!
Built-in water bladders with drinking hoses are the best
We recommend that you also carry a full water bottle (or two). We have three reasons for saying this:
- It’s a good idea to carry more water than what a standard hydration pack can carry on summit day.
- A water bottle is important backup should something go wrong with your hydration pack.
- It can be nice to add an electrolyte sachet to a bottle of water while keeping your hydration pack full of plain water.
- The water in your hydration pack’s drinking hose is likely to freeze if the temperature drops below freeing point.
It’s best to keep your water bottle as close to your body on summit day as possible to prevent the water from freezing – in this way, you can sip from here if the water in your hydration pack’s drinking hose is frozen. Putting your water bottle inside a thermal sock also helps to keep it from freezing.
Ensure your water bottle is good quality and the lid closes securely. A leak won’t be welcomed.
Also, note that water freezes from top to bottom, so if you carry your water bottle upside down then you can still drink from it even if the top part has started to freeze.
It takes a whole lot of effort and sweat to reach Mt Meru’s Socialist Peak!
You should pack the following footwear for Mt Meru:
- Hiking boots
- Gym shoes or sneakers
- Gaiters (optional)
The most important item on your Mt Meru packing list is a pair of comfortable, worn in hiking boots.
We recommend opting for either leather or synthetic trekking boots. Leather boots that are properly looked after last longer than any other type of boot.
Please read The best hiking boots for Kilimanjaro to learn more about the type of trekking boots to look for, as the conditions for climbing Mt Meru are pretty much the same as those for Kilimanjaro!
Ideally, you should hike around 100 km in your trekking boots before the two of you head to Mt Meru.
We also want to stress the importance of either wearing your boots or having them in your hand luggage on your travels to Tanzania. Should your luggage disappear, you want to at least have your essential items on you. We always do our best to help clients with any needed items, but new or borrowed hiking boots can compromise your climb.
Gym shoes or sneakers
After a long day of hiking, the thought of sitting back and kicking off your boots is pure bliss. This is great except for the fact that the temperature can plummet higher up on the mountain.
So when you’re packing for Mt Meru, it’s a good idea to throw in a pair of comfortable, closed sneakers to wear around camp.
Gaiters aren’t essential, but we do recommend using them.
Gaiters are helpful in:
- Keeping your calves and feet dry
- Preventing sticks and stones getting into your shoes (super annoying!)
- Protecting you from ticks, snakebites and other such nasties
- Keeping you dry should you walk through snow on summit day
Things can get muddy on a Mt Meru climb
4. Inner clothing
We recommend you pack the following inner layers of clothing:
- Base layers
- Summit base layer
- Sports underwear
- Thermal underwear
Climbing Mt Meru means hiking through rainforest, moorland and alpine desert. For this reason, it’s helpful to have quite a few layers to work with.
Your base layer is the layer that sits closest to your body and helps to regulate your body temperature. You don’t want a fabric that take a long time to dry (like cotton), as this will chill you when you stop exercising.
On the natural side of things, merino wool or bamboo works really well. Both are breathable and so moisture escapes easily.
Alternatively, choose a synthetic material – or one that’s a combination of natural and synthetic fibres – that has really excellent sweat-wicking properties. Good options include nylon, polyester, polypropylene and MicroModal.
Summit base layer
Your summit base layer should include long johns and a thermal, long-sleeved vest (preferably made of merino wool) that you wear for summit day only.
Your summit day climb is by far the longest hike of the entire Mt Meru climb. So having a fresh and comfortable layer for this day’s hike is ideal.
Your middle layer is for your torso and is worn over your base layer. This garment should be comfortable and easy to move in. We recommend a thin fleece or parka for this layer.
So it goes without saying that a fresh set of underwear is always a pretty good way to start each day! That’s why we recommend that you bring multiple pairs along with you.
It’s best to wear sports pants (and bras) on Mt Meru, as they’re comfortable and breathable. Again, avoid cotton. You want fabrics that wick away sweat.
The climate is very cold near the top of Mt Meru, so you need to pack thermal underwear. We recommend having two of each item – one of which you keep especially for summit day, the coldest and longest day of all.
Just like underwear, we suggest that you bring a few pairs of socks along with you for your Mt Meru adventure. And we advise that you bring three different types of sock:
- Hiking socks
- Thermal socks
- Sock liners
First and foremost, you must pack some regular hiking socks. We advise that you test out your hiking socks before coming to Mt Meru. Use them when breaking in your hiking boots. This way you’ll be able to detect any troublesome seams or the like.
Your socks should always be higher than the cuff of your boots
We’re sure you’ve noticed a trend by now: have a fresh ‘everything’ that you save for summit day. This certainly goes for your hiking socks. Only note that your summit day socks should be thermal socks, as you need the extra warmth to avoid cold feet.
We also suggest you wear sock liners. Not everyone does, but these are great in helping to prevent blisters because the friction gathers between the liner and the sock rather than between your skin and the sock. It’s quite common for climbers to get blisters on their feet, especially on summit day when you’re on your feet for several hours.
If you want to know more about avoiding and dealing with blisters, please read How to prevent (and treat) foot blisters when trekking.
5. Outer clothing
You need to pack the following outer layers for your Kilimanjaro climb:
- Winter jacket
- Waterproof jacket and trousers
- Hiking trousers
A good-quality winter jacket is a very important item on your Mt Meru packing list. Down is a good insulating material, which is why the Follow Alice winter jackets that we rent to clients are made with down. (Please note that our down jackets are not waterproof.)
Our client Alex in his cosy Follow Alice jacket on Mt Meru
You can either bring a winter jacket of your own, or rent one from Follow Alice for US$60 for the trip.
The start of the climb is relatively warm and humid, so your winter jacket won’t be needed and can be kept in your duffel bag. From then on you’ll keep it in your backpack so that you can haul it out whenever you want it.
A winter jacket is essential for summit day
You’re likely to start wearing your winter jacket when you reach the moorland zone. You’ll certainly be wrapping up in it in the alpine desert zone! It’s also your favourite item in the evenings.
Waterproof jacket and trousers
Waterproof garments are essential for the start of your hike, especially if you climb Mt Meru during the rainy season. (Learn more in The best time to climb Mt Meru.)
That said, it’s smart to carry waterproof gear no matter what time of year you climb.
While regular rain gear is waterproof, it generally isn’t very breathable. Given how much you sweat when hiking, it’s important to have a rain jacket and trousers that are relatively lightweight and have inner membranes to make them breathable. We recommend bringing a waterproof jacket that has a 2,000 hydrostatic head (this tells you how waterproof the jacket is).
Of course, you could opt for a poncho instead of a rain jacket. This has the benefit of being able to fit over your backpack as well, eliminating the need for a special backpack rain cover. The drawback, however, is that it can obscure your view at times of where exactly you’re putting your feet.
A windbreaker also goes a long way on Mt Meru. There’s nothing worse than wearing multiple layers to keep warm and the wind still cuts right through. To keep the load light, we suggest looking for a waterproof jacket that is also a windbreaker. We love a two-in-one solution!
Also, jackets with elasticated wristbands are helpful in keeping out the cold and wind.
Pack at least one pair of durable, breathable and comfortable trousers. Two pairs is enough, really, as you can swap them out if one needs some drying or airing.
We love convertible (zip-off) trousers that you can turn into shorts on warm days. Again with the two-in-one winning formula! Obviously you could choose instead to pack regular hiking trousers as well as a pair of shorts.
Some people like to wear trousers no matter the temperature as they protect your legs from sunburn, insect bites and scratches. Long trousers also help to prevent dirt and pebbles finding their way into your boots.
Some important accessories to pack for a Mt Meru climb are:
- Warm hat
- Balaclava or snood
- Head torch (flashlight) and batteries
- Gloves or mittens
- Glove inners
A sunhat is important for the beginning and end of the adventure when you’re lower down on the mountain.
The heat of the sun can be very intense in Tanzania – remember that you’re near the Equator!
A sunhat is better than a cap to protect the back of your neck.
The odd person might also like to bring a headband so that sweat doesn’t run into your eyes.
As you climb higher, you need a warm hat like a beanie. A beanie can also be worn when you sleep to avoid heat escaping through your head.
On summit day you’re grateful for every warm item you packed!
Balaclava or snood
We suggest you bring a thermal balaclava for summit day as this helps to keep your head, ears and neck warm.
Alternatively, consider a scarf or, even better, a thick snood, as this stands no chance of slipping off or flapping annoyingly.
Head torch (flashlight)and batteries
The huts have solar electricity, but it’s a good idea to have a head torch (flashlight) for backup.
The main reason, however, for a head torch is that summit day begins around 2 am in the morning! So you’ll need a torch to see your way (unless there’s a full moon).
Gloves or mittens
You absolutely must pack winter gloves (or ski gloves) to keep your hands warm! We especially like mittens for summit day as having all your fingers together generates more warmth.
Having said that, mittens do make it quite challenging to take pictures. So if you’d prefer fingered gloves, do ensure they’re a quality pair that offer proper insulation.
For summit day, one pair of gloves simply isn’t enough. Some glove liners, or glove inners, will help to ensure your hands and fingers don’t become icicles. Fleece glove inners are nicely cosy.
Polarised sunglasses or ski glasses are essential for a Mt Meru climb.
Ideally bring glasses that strike a balance between being as large as possible to fully shield your eyes, while not being too large that they fog up when you get sweaty. Wrap-around sunglasses are good for sitting snugly and keeping the sun from sneaking in at the sides.
On clear days the glare can be intense, so pack your sunnies!
Like everything else on this list, trying our sunglasses out on a trial hike will let you know beforehand if you’re coming with appropriate eyewear or not.
You might also like to pack a sunglasses cord if you have one of those noses that likes to ditch glasses at the slightest opportunity. Or you could even bring ski glasses.
Meru is often dismissed in favour of its bigger and more renowned neighbour, Kilimanjaro. However, Meru is the 5th tallest mountain in Africa, and Meru treks are an attraction in their own right.
Meru is far less crowded than Kilimanjaro. On Kili treks, you can sometimes feel as though you are following a conveyor belt of trekkers. This rarely happens on Meru treks.
Meru’s huts can fill up in the high season, but this is due to a lack of accommodation rather than the number of trekkers.
Mount Meru towers over Arusha National Park, and you will see an array of wildlife on your trek. On the lower slopes, you will encounter antelopes, buffalos, and other majestic animals. Your (compulsory) guide is armed to protect you from predators.
Meru treks are also much cheaper than Kili treks (around £1,000 cheaper). Meru treks are shorter than Kili treks, so the park and conservation fees don’t rack up as much.
Finally, although Meru is smaller than Kilimanjaro, it is widely considered to be a more demanding trek, so you will still have bragging rights upon your return.
Many experienced climbers decide to climb Mount Meru in preparation for a Kili trek. You may choose to acclimatise on a Meru trek before you tackle Kilimanjaro.
Mount Meru’s slopes are home to an impressive range of wildlife.
You will pass through several climate zones during your ascent, including grasslands, tropical rainforest, moorlands, desert, and ice and snow at the top.
400 species of bird, buffalos, antelopes, white colobus monkeys, and leopards could all cross your path on your trek.
Mount Meru treks combine a conventional trek with a walking safari through a diverse variety of ecosystems.
Meru treks are considered to be slightly more difficult than Kilimanjaro treks. However, Meru is not as tall as Kilimanjaro, so altitude sickness will be less of an issue.
Mount Meru is not a technical climb, so you will not need any previous mountaineering experience, but it is a steep climb, so you must have a good level of fitness. You will not need oxygen, although your guides will carry some for medical emergencies.
The secret to climbing to Mount Meru is pacing yourself to adapt to the altitude.
You can prepare for your trek by doing smaller walks with some luggage, or you can even go camping on the slopes to get used to the conditions.
Climbing Mount Meru is a lot cheaper than climbing Kilimanjaro, but there are several park fees to consider when booking a trip.
Tours cost around US$400-800, but we would generally advise to book upwards of US$650 to guarantee a safe ascent and the ethical payment of your guides. Your guides will protect you from wild animals on this trek and you might be faced with altitude sickness and other issues, so a well-paid, well-trained guide is integral to your comfort and safety.
Tour guiding and trekking is a crucial part of the livelihood of people who live in northern Tanzania. You can trek without a tour company, but you will still need to hire a guide at the gate.