Climb Mount Meru – Kilimanjaro’s Little Brother

Often considered a warm up for Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru by its own right is a stunning mountain to climb.

Standing at 4,566m high, Mount Meru is Tanzania’s second highest mountain. Although standing over a 1000 meters shorter than Kilimanjaro, Meru is an incredible free standing active volcano that offers views and wildlife sightings that is unparalleled in Tanzania.

Situated roughly 70km Southwest of Kilimanjaro and East of the Great Rift Valley, Mount Meru last erupted in 1910 and can therefore still be classed as an active volcano (although dormant). Exploding into life over 500,000 years ago, Meru’s horseshoe rim is very distinctive as the entire eastern flank was blown apart by the explosion. Not only is Meru the fourth highest mountain in Africa, but its rim lined crater extends down 1,500 meters to the crater floor making it one of the tallest cliffs in Africa. Because of the abundance of wildlife on and around Meru, it is compulsory to be accompanied by an armed ranger on your trek at all times.

Although the first accent of Meru is still disputed, it is widely accredited to either Fritz Jaeger in 1904 or Carl Uhlig in 1901.

Why Climb Mount Meru

Even with its incredible views, scenery and wildlife, Meru is often overlooked due to its location. 70km away stands Meru’s big brother – Kilimanjaro. This means that most international visitors will either visit Meru as a secondary destination or warmup whilst some visitors will ignore it altogether. Although to climb Mount Meru as a warmup for Kilimanjaro is by no means a bad idea, Meru is a stunning trek by itself!

Lying within Arusha National Park, the lower reaches of Mount Meru are amazingly rich in wildlife. You are almost certain to see monkeys, warthogs, buffaloes and a wide array of birds and, if you’re lucky, elephants and giraffes! The crater rim walk is a spectacular hike and the 360 degree views from the summit of Meru are not to be missed, especially as you can see Kilimanjaro!

Another bonus of climbing Mount Meru is the lack of crowds that can sometimes plague Kilimanjaro. As its little known brother, Meru is a fantastic way to avoid this and get stuck into a peaceful trek.

Summit Safely and Successfully

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Climb Mount Meru to Prepare for Kilimanjaro

With the above said, Meru is of course a great way to prepare for Kilimanjaro as it gives you a little taster as to what to expect on the bigger mountain.

The most important thing Meru prepares you for is altitude acclimatisation. Do not underestimate Meru as it is a challenging climb! It is certainly high enough to bring on altitude sickness. At a height of 4,566m, Meru is a tall mountain in its own right and forces your body to make changes to adapt to the altitude. Please click here for a full guide on how to deal with acclimatisation.

Not only this, but like Kilimanjaro, you travel in a group with porters carrying your gear and move up through several vegetation zones in 1 day. Similar to Kilimanjaro, you trek the summit at night, reaching the peak just before sunrise. You then descend an amazing 2000m on the same day! All these similarities allows your body (and your mind) to prepare for Kilimanjaro.

Climb Mount Meru – The Route

Unlike Kilimanjaro, there is only one official route to the summit of Meru – the ‘Momella route’. Although there is a 3 day (8.7 mile) option, we discuss the longer, more popular 4 day (11.8 mile) climb. Generally we recommend climbing between June and February with December to February being the best months for clear views of Kilimanjaro.

Day by day Momella route itinerary

Day 1 – Momella Gate to Miriakamba Hut
Elevation – 1500m to 2500m. Time: 3 – 4 hours. Habitat – Montane Forest.
Most tour operators will collect you from your hotel in the morning and take you to Arusha National Park. Once at headquarters your papers, visa and permits will all be checked and made ready for departure. From head office you will be taken by van to the Momella Park Gate from where your trek will begin. The trail starts by winding its way through montane forest where you will see waterfalls, wildlife and some pretty oddly formed trees! Remember, an armed national park ranger will accompany you on your route. The first day of trekking will end when you reach Miriakamba hut. Unlike Kilimanjaro, accommodation on Meru consists of huts dotted up the mountain.

Day 2 – Miriakamba Hut to Sadlle Hut
Elevation – 2500m to 3550m. Time: 3 – 4 hours. Habitat – Moorland
On the second day you will ascend over a 1000m to Saddle Hut at 3,550m. The air will get cooler and you may feel slightly more out of breath as the air gets thinner. Saddle Hut will be reached by early afternoon which will give you time to visit ‘Little Meru’ at 3,820m. Not only will you get great views of Kilimanjaro, but it’s a good way for your body to acclimatize to the altitude.

Day 3 – Saddle Hut to Socialist Peak to Miriakamba Hut
Elevation – 3550m to 4256m to 2500m, Time: 8 – 10 hours. Habitat – Semi Desert, Alpine Desert, Montane Forest.
Your summit ascent begins in the middle of the night at 2am. Following a quick midnight snack you trek to 3,820m where you find Rhino Point. After a quick break you then climb a further 4-5 hours where, towards the top, you will traverse the exhilarating and very narrow crater rim path! This is all rewarded as you hit the summit just before sunrise. The 360 degree views are spectacular, especially the sun rising over Kilimanjaro! Before your descent you can explore Meru’s ash cone within the crater.

Day 4 – Miriakamba Hut to Momella Gate
Elevation – 2500m to 1500m. Time: 2 – 3 hours. Habitat – Montane Forest
The fourth day is an easy going few hours down through the montane forest area where you will once again see wildlife and beautiful habitat. Seeing the forest from above is a completely different experience to seeing it on the way up – look out for birds!

Recommended Tour Operators

Still haven’t booked your Mount Meru trek yet? Click here for our personal recommendations.

Packing List

Click here for our complete kit list recommendations.


If you still have any questions then please feel free to leave a comment in the section below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

25 thoughts on “Climb Mount Meru – Kilimanjaro’s Little Brother”

  1. Hi I’m climbing Kilimanjaro and mount meru in January, I have Cerebral palsy down one side tho reasonably fit and have done Great Wall of China, I know fair bit about Kilimanjaro but not so much about meru. As I have disability I have two extra guides to help with some of the more hair raising bits but was wondering about summit night on meru as there is a lot of scrambling? Is it feasible or stick to rhino point?

  2. Do you recommend climbing Meru and Kilimanjaro back to back, or taking a day of rest between the two climbs?
    Thanks for the response!

  3. HI I am doing Kilimanjaro with Ultimate Kilimanjaro, but would like to try and figure out how to hike Mt Meru ourselves. I see that there are two huts but on the Tanzanian National Park Website there is no obvious place to reserve huts or the park rangers required to accompany us. Any insights into how to do this, or if I should just do another organized hike appreciated. There are two of us and we live at 7200 ft. and are in shape so with the exception of one of us with fear of exposure I hope we can be ok! I also don’t know if we can find transportation to and from Monella Gate, particularly when we come out from the hike. Thanks!

    Any advice and suggestions great.

    • Hi Micheline, unfortunately I don’t know a huge amount about the logistics of Mount Meru and how one would do it unassisted. My recommendation would be to use a tour operator as it is always better to have the support of knowledgeable guides for safety and total enjoyment. Apologies I can’t be of more help. All the best!

  4. Hi I want to try Meru but am partially disabled limiting my walking range.
    I am 65 and suffer peripheral vascular disease causing claudication (leg pains) unless I stop regularly. Can the climb be done over a longer period if shorter treks?

    • Hi Danny, I’m not 100% sure if the trek can be significantly lengthened as the camp sites are pre-defined on Meru. I recommend you contact the national park and check with them whether this is possible. Sorry I can’t be of more help. All the best!

  5. Am I able to only climb Meru with your company?I am booked to climb Kilimanjaro with another company that doesn’t offer Meru.

    • Hi Mark, we don’t run climbs. We are an information resource only. I recommend contacting the company you have booked Kilimanjaro with to see if they can also take you up Meru.

    • Hi Steve, you can do a short day hike on Mount Meru, although the park permit rules changed recently so it is worth checking on the price of permits etc. To reach the summit takes a few days as you need to acclimatise properly.

  6. I am interested by climbing Meru with 5 friends in january 2020. However, since I have an ankle prothesis due to a previous climbing accident, can we do it in one day more. What would then be schedule and price per person ? Thks

  7. Hello!

    My friend and I would love to climb Mount Meru for 3 or 4 days. We two would start at 3rd of March. How much is it all together per person?

  8. I’m interested in a trek up Mt Neru from Sept 13th through Sept 21st, can you email me options, price etc?

  9. Hi,
    i’ll go in Tanzania for a month, my first night is near Arusha, then i’ll move in the est side, i have just a question, can i go by myself, and just a guide, to little meru and go back? Is it regular to have just one day or two trek? Without climb the peak…thank you

    • Hi Tea, I believe it is possible to do a short day or two day hike on Mount Meru. I believe you need to take a guide though.

  10. Hi I am thinking about doing both Mt Meru and Kilimangiaro. your page is very informative.
    any suggestions about how long it would take to do both? I am a very active hiker so I guess after Mt Meru one could hike up the Kili quite fast…
    moreover I usually like to do extra hikes during the climb, for example after the 4/6 h hike of one day I would love to explore more in the afternoon as I like wildlife and photography, any recommendation for this? it is somehow difficult to find operators that understand the extra need to explore apart reaching the top 🙂

    thank you so much

    • Hi Paolo, most Meru trips are 3-4 days, and Kilimanjaro 6-7 days. I would budget at least 10 days in total – perhaps 4 to do Meru and get well acclimatised, and then another 6 for Kilimanjaro. The shortest Kilimanjaro route that you can do is 5 days on the Marangu. It is possible to explore a little more after a days hiking but I suspect after 3 or 4 days of strenuous high altitude hiking you will want to rest. Bare in mind, that conserving your energy is key for the summit push on Kilimanjaro and important in starving off altitude sickness. Hope this helps!

  11. Hi! Thank you for all the information provided! Maybe you can help with a few questions I have.
    First, I’m trying to understand how technical Mt Meru is. Is it still trekking/hiking, or is it rather climbing? I have trekked in Kaukasus/Georgia (up to 3500m), Tian Shan/Kyrgyzstan (up to 3700m) and Simien/Ethiopia (up to 4400m), but these all have been walkable treks. I haven’t really climbed anything and wonder how much is needed in terms of skills for Mt Meru.
    Second, and maybe quite a silly question. Since I have previously always joined a group already in my country, I do not really know how it works if I’d be looking to join a tour just by myself once in Tanzania. Probably it would be much too expensive to hire the ranger, guide, etc., just alone, so a group tour would be perfect. Are the operators offering to join something like this? How big the groups usually might be? And how much flexibility should one calculate in as regards to dates? Does it work once there is a sufficient number of participants who want to go the same time?
    Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Triinu, Mt Meru is just an hike, so no climbing skills are required. It is possible to join a group hike on Mt Meru. I recommend booking with a trek operator before you depart. Many Kilimanjaro operators also offer Mt Meru and some run fixed date open groups. If you Google you should some opertaors with open group dates. Groups are usually relatively small on Mt Meru (around 6 people), but can be as many as 12 people.


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