Mt Meru Conquered, March 2005

Well I am safely back in dusty Arusha again for a day of rest and washing, after spending 4 days in Arusha National Park climbing Mt Meru. I think I have been getting the true “safari experience” with my entourage of 1 guide, 2 porters and 1 armed National Park ranger to escort me up a mountain!

Whilst I have done a lot of hiking before this was an exhilarating experience to be walking across plains with herds of buffalo, warthogs and giraffe (I walked within 10 metres of a mother and baby giraffe!). We walked along dusty trails following leopard tracks from the night before, and climbed steep hillsides of dense forest with colobus and blue monkeys swinging overhead in the trees.

Mt Meru is one of the most scenic climbs in all East Africa – it is an extinct volcano, with a sheer crater rim creating a backdrop for dense, verdant rainforest and the plains below.  We climbed 1000 metres a day, and stayed in well organized huts maintained by the National Park.  The day of summiting we crawled out of bed at 3am and headed out into the darkness to climb onto the crater rim.  We trudged up black volcanic sand, scaled sheer rock faces, hiked across packed snow and hauled ourselves up boulders whilst we covered the 10km distance return along the knife-edge crater rim to the summit of Mt Meru. I watched the sunrise next to Mt Kilimanjaro in the distance and finally at 4566m from the peak of Mt Meru stopped to take in the awesome views of the old ash cone below us.

But, I can’t remember the last time I punished my body this hard!  Eleven hours of hiking that day – 1000 metres up and 2000 metres down!

Everyone says Mt Meru is a harder climb than Mt Kili – I guess I’ll tell you in a week!  So just have today to rest my weary legs and get the contents of my backpack clean again before I head off tomorrow to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. 

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