As a seasoned traveller, the thrill and anticipation to discover new horizons never end. It’s that one addiction we proudly wear in our hearts. This time around, let’s embark on an exciting journey to one of the captivating and imposing peaks of East Africa: the Mount Meru hike.
It’s not just the land of lions, giraffes, and zebras, Tanzania also possesses an awe-inspiring mountain, which is sure to leave you spellbound by its majestic embrace. And I’m not talking about Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak at 5895m, and the the highest free-standing mountain in the world. But neighbouring Mount Meru, while a lower 4566m, is considered to be a more technical climb and a great standalone hike or a warm up and altitude acclimatization for Kili.
Unveiling the Canvas of Mount Meru
Located strategically in the heart of Arusha National Park, the Mount Meru hike offers more than just plain rock climbing. It is a fusion of adventure, natural beauty, and a thorough test of endurance. Terrains change from montane forests to rugged rock formations, to grasslands, and finally the less-touched magical alpine deserts. Fascinating, isn’t it? That’s just the beginning.
Prepping for the hike: Essentials and Precautions
Every great trek begins long before you take your first step on the trail. It begins with meticulous planning and preparation. This is no stroll, my friends. The Mount Meru hike is a serious endeavour that demands a commendable level of physical fitness, while strong wind and biting cold are your constant companions. But worry not, if I can do it, so can you!
Training for the hike
Start with regular cardio exercises about three months in advance. This will increase your stamina and ensure you are adequately prepared to conquer the 4,566 meters of Mount Meru. Even though this may sound like a lot, a bit of patience and daily discipline will surely get you there.
Keeping warm is paramount when temperatures dip as low as -10 degrees Celsius at the peak. The golden rule of mountain dressing: layer up. Also, don’t forget your rain gear, a good backpack, hiking boots, and a hat. Remember, it isn’t just about surviving the harsh elements but enjoying every step of this monumental journey!
So, Why Choose Mount Meru?
An inevitable question might pop into your head at this point. Why choose the Mount Meru hike over the globally renowned Everest or Kilimanjaro treks? That question is best answered in experience rather than words. But allow me to paint a brief picture for you.
Unlike its counterparts, Mount Meru still preserves its untouched charm. On our way up, we met a handful of hikers, making this journey much more intimate and peaceful. It’s you, the mountain, and an unspoken bond that is formed throughout the journey.
Mount Meru’s placement within Arusha National Park presents you with exclusive, breath taking wildlife sightings. We almost stumbled upon a buffalo herd, and at one point, spotted ‘colobus monkeys’ swinging high up in the tree canopies. It’s like a hike through nature’s theme park.
Eating Elephants and Mountains: One Bite at a Time
Here, in the heart of Africa, there’s a saying: “Pole, Pole” which translates to “Slowly, slowly”. And I know, nothing fits better to describe our approach to the adventure that lay ahead. Like trying to eat a mountain (or an elephant), the daring Mount Meru climb has to be dealt with one small bite (or in this case, step) at a time.
Surreal Landscapes to Astound You
After our initial stints through the unpredictable terrains and captivating wildlife sightings, one would think that’s all there is to it. But as you know, on a journey like the Mount Meru hike, predictions fall flat.
Alpine Deserts and Volcanic Cones
As we ascended, the lush greenery of the forests made way for the surreal landscapes of the Alpine Deserts. Can you imagine the stark contrast of barren lands, replaced by the sight of volcanic ash cones, piercing the horizon under the cerulean skies?
The Dance of the Clouds
On the Mount Meru hike, even the sky puts up a show. As we approached the peak, the sky turned into a moving canvas, playing with the colours of the setting sun, and making us feel as though we were walking amidst the clouds. Now that’s a party trick none of us saw coming!
The Final Push to Socialist Peak
The last leg of our journey, and perhaps the most challenging part, was the climb to Socialist Peak, the summit of Mount Meru. Exhaustion, anticipation, exhilaration, all these emotions swirled within us, urging us to complete the final conquest.
The Freedom of Flight
At the summit, a sense of achievement washed over us. As we stood there, amidst the winds that seemed to carry stories of all hikers before us, we felt like we could fly. Overlooking the rolling clouds beneath, and the distant Kilimanjaro, we were on top of the world!
The Mesmerizing Moonlight Descent
Of course, what goes up must come down. The descent, rather than being tedious, was a whole new adventure. Under the moonlit sky and against the twinkling star backdrop, the trail back became a path of ethereal beauty.
Conclusion – The Mount Meru Hike: An Epilogue to Remember
So, you see my fellow adventurers, a Mount Meru hike is not merely a physical feat, but a journey inwards. It challenges your body, awakens your spirit, and broadens your perspective on the world and life itself.
As we walked back to base camp, the tiredness of the hike barely seemed to matter. If anything, every step down was heavy with the reluctance to return from these heavenly heights. But as all good things come to an end, so did our Mount Meru hike, leaving us with memories and experiences worth pondering over.