Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru
Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru
Tanzania is not short on mountains, two of the most popular and well known are Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru. Not only is Kilimanjaro (or Kili as the mountain is affectionately known) Africa’s highest peak at 5895m, it is also the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Neighbouring Mt Meru, though not as high, at 4566m, is considered to be a more technical climb though not as physically demanding as Kili.
Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes
- Marangu Route – this is the oldest route and the most popular. Some consider this the easiest route and you travel up and down the same way. It can be done in 5 days although it is usually done in 6 to allow for acclimatisation. Accommodation is in basic park huts and dormitories on this route.
- Rongai Route – this route is becoming more popular and is also considered to be one of the easier routes. It’s the only one on the north side of the mountain and descent is usually via the Marangu Route. On this climb you will stay in a mixture of tents and huts.
- Machame Route – is steeper than the Marangu route and some consider this to be the most scenic and beautiful route to the summit. It can be done in 6 days, or 7 if you prefer a longer acclimatisation. Accommodation is tented on this climb. You walk up the western side of the mountain and descend down the south face.
- Shira Route – this is a popular longer route. While it can be done in 6 days it is often done in seven or 8. Descent is usually via the Mweka route.
- Lemosho Route – this is one of the quieter routes it has stunning views and scenery. It will take 8 days to reach the summit, the longer the climb, the more expensive. You’re most likely to spot wildlife on this route.
- Umbwe Route – this route is seldom used. It is shorter and steeper than the others which makes acclimatisation a problem. Not for the feint hearted and suited to experienced trekkers.
- Western Breach Route – a risky climb and not for the feint hearted. It connects with the Lemosho or Umbwe Routes. If for any reason you are unable to summit via this route, then it’s possible to change your route and summit via Stella Point instead.
- Northern Circuit Route – this is the route for a more remote climb. Heading round the back of the mountain you will miss out on some of the dramatic features of the other routes, but you won’t have many other climbers to contend with.
- Non-summit options – if summiting seems a bit daunting but you still want to hike on the mountain, then there are several options open to you. Depending on how long you have you can look at 1 day to 5 day options.
If you aren’t keen on Mt Kilimanjaro then an assent of Mt Meru might be a better option. It will take you through different vegetation zones with some stunning scenery. This is Africa and you may come across wildlife during your climb, giraffe, buffalo, baboons and various members of the antelope family can be spotted so for safety you must always be accompanied by an armed park ranger.
When to visit Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru
As you might imagine, the best time to try any form of mountain climbing would be the dry season, that means January to March are good, there is no rain and it is less crowded. Mid-June to August conditions are good too, it is cold and there will be snow on the ground in June/July but the skies are beautiful and clear. September is popular and therefore busier. The days are warmer, there is a chance of cloud but conditions are good. October is also favourable for climbing, days are warm and there is a moderate chance of cloud and you will see fewer climbers. As the short rains begin in November, conditions become less favourable.
It is best to avoid the rains in late November and conditions can be variable into December too, the long rains occur in April, May and early June and we advise you avoid these periods.
Excellent Good Fair Not Recommended
JUNE TO OCTOBER
- This is the dry season with the best climbing conditions and visibility
- September and October are warmer
- There tend to be fewer climbers in October at the end of the high season
- This is high season when there are the most climbers
- The weather is generally colder than January to March
NOVEMBER TO MAY
- Fewer climbers on the mountains
- Dry and warm from January to March, with clear skies in the morning and evening
- The main rains come in April and May and the visibility lessens
- In November rain often occurs in the afternoons
Where to stay around Mt Kilimanjoro and Mt Meru
While you are attempting your climb, you will be camping or staying in basic huts. The hotels closest to Kili are fairly basic so if you prefer your pre and post climb accommodation to be a little more luxurious then Arusha is where it’s at, you have more choice and higher standards. Arusha is usually the base pre and post Meru climbs too.