It's hard to stand in the shadow of the majestic, world known Kilimanjaro! Named "Kili's younger sister" at 4566m high, Mount Meru is the second highest Tanzanian mountain. It seems to be less popular with the tourists (or just perhaps less well known!) but therefore also less crowded. Mount Meru is a spectacular ascent up to a volcanic cone and really is one of East Africa's most scenic and rewarding climbs.
Some visitors to Tanzania treat Mount Meru as an acclimatization trip before attempting Mount Kilimanjaro. A visit to this spectacular Mountain, located within Arusha National Park, is an unforgettable experience. A trek to the summit takes you through grassland and lush forest on the mountain's lower slopes, followed by a breathtaking walk along the knife-edge of the crater rim.
Mount Meru has a circular base about 20km. It rises above the plains as an almost perfect cone with an internal crater surrounded by a steep wall of cliffs. The wall "broke" at an altitude of 2500m giving the mountain the shape of a giant horseshoe. The cliffs of the inner wall below the summit at 1500m are among the tallest in Africa. Inside the crater, more recent volcanic eruptions have created a subsidiary peak called the Ash Cone.
The vegetation is similar to the Kilimanjaro slopes although you won't find the high altitude glaciers or ice fields on Mount Meru. Evergreen forest begins at 1800m and is moist, cool and thick at first but does thin out as you climb. The higher forest, including giant bamboo (up to 12m in height), offers an ideal habitat for small duiker antelopes as well as primates, notably blue monkey and black and white colobus. The forest disappears at around 2900m, giving way to floral meadows where you might spot buffalo, giraffe or warthog. Finally, the track leads you to a bleak alpine desert where sometimes the only sounds, apart from your own breath, are those of white necked ravens!