Mount Meru is the second highest mountain in Tanzania and from the south Mount Meru looks like a typical strato-volcano. However the view from the east is completely different as the whole of the eastern side of the mountain was blown away during an eruption some 250,000 years ago. The ash cone still shows remains of the last volcanic activity from 1879.
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The mountain also has a variety of vegetation zones. It starts with savannah dotted by yellow fever trees and wild date palms. The savannah is followed by the dry montane forest that is home to tall junipers also known as African pencil cedars that can reach a height of up to 30 meters. Next is the moist montane forest that dazzles with beautiful flowers such as the brilliantly colored fire ball lily, red hot pokers and pink impatiens. Giraffes are often spotted in this zone as the like feeding on the abundant croton trees. In the next zone, the upper montane forest, you will see hagenia trees with lichen and ferns hanging from its branches. Next up is the ericaceous zone, which is a lot bushier and as the name indicates, is home to many different types of Erica bushes. Lastly you will reach the afro alpine zone with more of a desert like feel to it. But it is not completely void of vegetation as some types of grass still thrives here.
The standard time required to climb Mount Meru is four days. All climbs are accompanied by an armed park ranger and overnights take place in mountain huts.
The first day takes hikers through the misty rain forest where the famous arched fig tree is located. During this stretch, colobus monkeys and the occasional buffalo are often seen. Depending on the weather, visitors might be lucky to see the Momella lakes and Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance. The night will be spent at the Miriakamba Hut.
On day two the heather moorland zone that is home to moss covered trees is entered. Hikers also have the option to summit little Meru at 3,820 m. The night will be spent at the Saddle Hut.
The summit attempt usually starts around midnight, ensuring hikers have plenty of time to reach the summit by sunrise. As is to be expected, this is the most difficult part of the climb as the path after Rhino point is quite narrow and steep. This part includes some climbing stages and hikers are advised to tread carefully.
From Socialist Peak at 4,566 m hikers should be able to enjoy the beautiful views from the peak as well as see the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance as the sun rises. From the peak hikers will descend via Miriakamba Hut down to the gate.