Our Mount Meru experience was challenging and awesome. We had an amazing team supporting us… Ibrahim Mashaka (Guide), Oswald (Armed game ranger), Athumani (Chef ), Yusuph (Waiter & Porter), Juma & Luta (Porters.) All food and equipment is carried by the team up and down… the huts have the basic infrastructure – toilets, sleeping, communal eating hall, basic cooking kitchen.
Here is a quick cameo of our group leaders
Ibrahim is a personable local Tanzanian who has been climbing mountains from a very young age – has climbed Kilimanjaro and Meru many times. Ibrahim is not only a mountain guide he also does tours. He has his own company see details https://africangiantadventures.com/#
Oswald is a ranger in Arusha National Park. He has speciality knowledge of Arusha NP the animals, birds and Mount Meru. He has lost count of how many times he has climbed his 4566-meter home mountain (Meru) , his fastest climb was 9 hours and 15 minutes. Oswald is also a dedicated teacher and trains Tanzanians to become mountain and safari guides.
We left Momella gate at 8.30am on Sunday 25 July 2021. The first day of 14kms (1000m ascent) was all about slow and steady walking to give us the chance to acclimatize. We saw giraffe up close and personal on the plains, walked through stunning old forests adorned with hanging fungus and climbed on and on up steep grassy paths. We were happy to get to Miriakamba Hut at 2500m, put our feet up and enjoy a delicious hot meal!
The second day saw us ascending another 1000m to Saddle Hut (3500km). It’s only 6kms but took us 4 hours! The first part of the walk was through the wet rain forest, with muddy paths and lots of fresh Buffalo poop (they love this area). The porters and chef left after us and overtook us while we were still below halfway – they took 2 hours and we’re heavily laden with our gear, their gear, the food and the kitchen cooking gear.
At the halfway mark we suddenly got above the dense clouds and the vegetation changed to a riot of red hot pokers and beautiful grasses.
After lunch at the hut we climbed another 300m up Little Meru (another aclimatization trick).
Our oxygen levels and blood pressure was taken twice daily by our guide… it was good throughout (we followed the advice of 4litres of water and lots of food per day!!)
The 3rd day was the real challenge! It was summit day and it started with a 00h30 wake up (yikes!) up and a 1h45 start! The summit is 4.5kms up with an elevation of another 1000m. It took us almost 7 hours!
After climbing 300m the first significant stopping place is RHINO POINT. Above this point, no vegetation exists. Hard to believe that this is part of mountain’s crater rim, after the old one was blown off during a violent volcanic eruption. From this point onwards the path goes along the top of a ridge of volcanic ash, scree and rocks.
It was very windy and very cold. We walked through volcano beach sand and volcanic pebbles, across rock faces with chains and lastly clambered up rocks! Jules was ready to give up 4 hours in but stuck at it doggedly.
The frosty Tanzanian flag at the summit was a most welcome sight! The views when the sun came up were stunning! And it was incredible to see what we had walked in the dark!
The descent was faster but was hard for Jules. We had to get back to Saddle Hut, have a short rest and then go further down back to MariaKamba hut. The latter is due to logistics and also it’s better for acclimatization again. It was the last thing we felt like after 9 hours of walking and only 2hrs sleep the night before! Julie’s quads were weakened and she wobbled bravely and resolutely all the way down.
Ibrahim and Oswald were stalwarts and helped keep Jules upright the whole way to MariaKamba hut. Barry was tired but strong! We got in to MariaKamba at 8 that night, exhausted but happy!
The last day instead of walking the last 7kms down, we called on the rescue option of a ride to our end point in a National Park Toyota Landcruiser.
We feel elated by our achievement and privileged to have had the experience. It was certainly a bucket list (albeit an unknown one) that is a memory highlight!
Special thanks to our ascent team leaders – Ibrahim & Oswald. To Chef Athumani for the great food. To Yusuph, Juma & Luta for careful carrying.
Also grateful thanks for the hiking clothing lent to us by Paul & Erica of Shaw Safari’s (https://shawsafaris.co.tz/) and the equipment, clothing and snacks from Carel and Sally of Great Migrations ( https://www.greatmigrationcamps.com/2contact-great-migration-camps-migration-safaris/)