Mt Meru – The Other Mythical Summit
Second only to the mighty Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Meru looms above the city of Arusha. Many people climb Mt. Meru to help with acclimatization for the long trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Although Meru is slightly smaller than Kilimanjaro, the hike entails the lush beauty of the forests, gentle streams and waterfalls, many animals on the open plains, challenging steep assent and ridge, and magnificent view from the summit. Mt. Meru is the ‘Forgotten Mountain’ overshadowed by the better known Kilimanjaro but this is a mountain that should not be overlooked. Meru is older than Kilimanjaro and geologically more interesting with its’ sheer-sided crater wall and perfect ash cone. It is a spectacular climb whose challenge is also the ideal acclimatization for Kilimanjaro. As always, we will provide you with all the necessary Pre-Departure information, equipment list, and information to better prepare you for your adventure!
While we recommend the Meru trek of 3 nights, 4 days it can be done in 2 nights and 3 days just as well by continuing all the way down the mountain after the summit! Let us know what you plans are and we will make it happen.
The Highlands Trek, Magical Landscapes and Untamed Nature
Tropical Trails pioneered in developing crater highlands treks, from the plains of Ngorongoro to the shores of the lake in Empakai Crater, down the Great Rift Valley wall to spectacular Lake Natron, where a swim in the cool waterfall pools awaits you. It can be done in 3, 5, 6 or 7 days.
7 Day Crater Highlands Trek: Ngorongoro Conservation Area to Lake Natron
A long trek across the volcanic Maasailands north of Ngorongoro Crater through game-filled craters and up active volcanoes to the Rift Valley and Lake Natron where there are many Pink Flamingos. Nights are spent at wilderness camps, open to the elements and passing wildlife and equipment is carried by backup 4wd vehicles and/or pack-animals.
Arrival in Arusha and overnight at Karama Lodge in Bed and Breakfast.
Day 1 – Drive from Arusha to Lake Manyara National Park for a game drive, have a picnic lunch in the park, followed by an afternoon game drive. It is a great opportunity to witness a marvelous concentration of animals, including 350 species of birds, not to mention the glistening soda lake itself where you’ll catch glimpses of grazing Pink Flamingos. Dinner and overnight stay in a campsite, just outside Lake Manyara National Park.
Day 2 – After early breakfast, drive to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and upon arrival you will descend into the Crater for a Crater Tour. Then exit the Crater after a picnic lunch and drive to Nainokanoka. Take an afternoon hike to Olmoti, which takes you through the rain forested slopes of Olmoti Crater to the viewpoint on the rim. The trek winds down to the grassy plains of the crater floor and to Mungwe Falls, named after the distinctive white flourish of the Colobus Monkey tail. Dinner and overnight stay at Olmoti Special Campsite.
Day 3 – The trek continues to the distant Empakai Crater. On this day the trek covers open grassland through a natural amphitheater created by encircling volcanoes. Maasai rush out of their traditional homes (Bomas) to greet hikers as they pass by. The steep walk up Empakai affords awe-inspiring views, especially from the top where the sheer sided sunken crater can be seen. We camp on the crater rim, with Empakai on one side and Ol Donyo Lengai, the holy Maasai volcano on the other. Dinner and overnight stay at Empakaai Special Campsite.
Day 4 – From the overnight camp, you will hike down the sheer-sided slopes of Empakai onto the crater floor for a walking safari. Empakai Crater is a sunken volcano with a soda lake covering most of the Crater Floor. Flamingos nest here during the day to escape the blazing heat of the Rift Valley. A large forest on the western shore is home to Antelope, Buffalo, Leopard, Lion, and with large seasonal Zebra and Wildebeest populations when they pass through on their migratory circuits. Dinner and overnight stay at Acacia Campsite.
Day 5 – The Maasai Mountain of God, Ol Donyo Lengai looms out of the sunrise as you head out early to avoid the African heat. You will arrive at the escarpment, the sheer wall that looms out of the Rift Valley floor, to admire one of the finest views in Africa. Sweeping vistas of the Rift Valley, 1500ft below, and the scattered active volcanoes, primitive rock formations, glimmering soda lakes and clustered Maasai Bomas. The final six kilometers are across the tough uncompromising terrain of the valley floor. Our shaded camp is perched above a refreshing stream, a half-hours walk from a paradisaical waterfall. Dinner and overnight stay at Kamakia Campsite.
Day 6 – Very early morning climb of Ol Donyo Lengai (2878m), an active volcano with spiritual significance to the Maasai. If security permits, one night on top of the volcano (under tent and basic comfort). All meals and overnight stay on the crater or at at Kamakia Campsite.
Day 7 – A long drive back to Arusha. Stay overnight at Karama Lodge with Bed and Breakfast (Optional)
We are more than happy to incorporate a few trekking days into your safari!
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These treks get you close to nature and allow you the chance to get an authentic taste of the local culture as you walk with Maasai guides. Your belongings are transported on donkeys in the traditional way-just as tribesmen have done for centuries. While this trek is not necessarily physically demanding – it does require a fit and healthy individual with the stamina to walk 4 – 11 hours a day through some rugged terrain. Once you’re through – you’ll find it worth the sweat!