Weekend Photos: Mt. Meru, Tanzania

Continuing with the Africa saga, today we are climbing Mt. Meru, at 15,000' the 5th highest Mountain in Africa. This stratovolcano is frequently used as a training/ascclimatization climb for Kilimanjaro, but our ambitions were more modest.

The other posts from this trip: Arusha, Tarangire National Park, South Serengeti Part 1, South Serengeti Part 2,  the rest of the Serengeti tour, and Ngorogoro Crater.


Our Mt. Meru climb was a 3-night, 4-day outing, totaling about 22 miles (nearly half of that on summit day) and nearly 9200' up and down. 

Entering the park

We're going clear up THERE?

We saw and heard culebra monkeys, but this was the best photo I got of one. The warm invitation to trek and explore is interesting, as you are required to get a permit and hike with an armed ranger.

Because we were a little late, we started with a ride in a jeep, cutting 2 or 3 miles off our first day's hike (to catch us up to the group already hiking with the ranger of the day). We finally got on our feet at about 6200', and climbing to 8200' at Miriakamba Hut. 

The famous fig tree arch.

It took a while, but eventually we reached some open spots with views. The view would have included Kilimanjaro, but it was hazy.

Our hiking cohort included a party of 7 from France, a lone young man from northern Europe, and the four of us, with our guides and the ranger. The porters made their own way up.

About the time we were totally sweat-soaked (it being warm and rather humid), we reached the hut at last. Our crew provided us with a bit of warm washing water (much appreciated) and a snack to tide us over to dinner.

The four of us shared a four-bunk room, and my brother-in-law shot this view of me (below).

For great photos of this trip, see the rest of Tom's photos at Photoseek.com

The daily popcorn--along with tea and/or Milo (malted cocoa drink).

Some of us were up at dawn to photograph sunrise on Kili.

Over nearly 5 hours, we climbed 3.6 miles, and 3500', taking us to Saddle Hut at 11,600' (thus the slow pace). Despite our best efforts, one member of our party got altitude sickness and was unable to go beyond Saddle Hut.

Afternoon clouds begin to obscure Kili.

We didn't see many flowers, but there were a few once we reached tree line.

Saddle Hut

The huts have bunk rooms, with toilets in a separate building; cooking (by our crews--you really don't do this without hiring local guides and porters) and eating are in still other buildings, so it's really quite a compound. At the lower hut there were sinks with running water for washing up; at Saddle Hut it was just a bucket with a spigot.

Our summit day started at midnight, though we'd been disturbed in our brief slumber at 11 when the French party got up. We hit the trail shortly after 1 a.m., hoping to be on the summit for sunrise. This of course meant we were climbing for hours by headlamp--also climbing for many hours on a small breakfast, something that caused problems for me as I ran out of fuel short of the target.

Not many photos for several hours as we climbed in the darkness.

Just before 6 the horizon began to light up.


The point on the end of the ridge is Little Meru, and Saddle hut is at the point where it joins the ridge (not actually visible from here).

I tried to quit about this point, as I was badly in need of food and unsure how my knees would feel about the long descent that would follow the climb. I had my sunrise photos and wasn't stuck on the summit. The guides, however, would have none of that. They didn't really even allow me the time to eat what food I had before they were hectoring me back onto my feet. I didn't care much for the idea of waiting an hour for the guys to finish the climb and return to where I was, so I went on.

The shadow of the peak.

The light grows as we continue upward.

The cinder cone below the summit reminds us that this is a volcano, even if it is extinct (I think).

Eventually, despite my best efforts, I summited.

Partly squinting in the sun, partly just plain cranky. 4566m is just a hair short of 15,000'.

Petey Possum was much less cranky, but he slept in my pack all the way up.

Now for the hard part: we were to descend to Saddle Hut (3500' down) for lunch and a short nap, before the ranger would lead us down to Miriakamba hut (another 3500' down), where we would spend our 3rd and final night.

Looking back from along the ridge. Maybe it was as well we couldn't see how far it was, while we were on the way up in the dark!

Photography rather fell by the wayside as the fatigue and the descent added up. I took very few photos on the way down, and though I did get up for sunrise again, I didn't get much. 

We headed on down fairly early the next morning. Our French companions had gone all the way out the previous day (a mind-blowing notion, making the day about 15 miles and 9000' down), so we were able to go our own pace this time, with the ranger happy to share information with us all the way. That was a bonus on top of guarding us from wild animals, none of whom threatened us this day--but they were out there, and are an actual danger.

Looking back.

We took a different route down, which included a visit to Tululusia Falls, almost 92' high.

From the falls we cut across some meadows on the way back to the main gate, and met with warthogs--and giraffes.

Giraffe, with Kilimanjaro

Here's lookin' at ya!

Our hike completed, we drove to Moshi (near Arusha, and the town where Popote Africa, our tour company, is based) for the night before leaving at the crack of dawn for Kenya. 

As far as we could tell, there is no Meru beer, so we had to settle for Kili.

Next week: intrepid travelers collapse in Nairobi, eventually recover and head to Mt. Kenya for more trekking.

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2024
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  1. That is so cool that you did it!

    1. Yeah, it is. It's not the highest I've been, but it's definitely the highest I've gone with grossly inadequate acclimatization :p


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