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MOUNT MERU

Eclipsed by the majestic dome of its nearby neighbor Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru has never gained its rightful place as a major tourist attraction in the Northern circuit. But to anyone visiting Arusha,the jagged profile ofthis grand volcano, rising from densely forested flanks, inevitably sends a fascinating, challenging call.

Once a volcano cone, Mt Meru lost its top and its entire eastern side in a gigantic explosion perhaps million years ago that left the asymmetric walls of a caldera or crater that now constitutes the main mass of the mountain. Rising inside the caldera  is an ash cone, the result of post explosion volcanism. Viewed from the crater rim, its bare slopes are a reminder of the recentness of apocalyptic activity. The latest eruption of Meru was a lava flow believed to have occurred in 1879.

Recurrences are certainly not ruled out, as steam vents and hot springs attest to the life of fires below. Making it to the peak, you find yourself emerging on a prominent rocky knob (4566m) with a spectacular view. To the south, you look straight down to Arusha  town, southwest you will see the Masai Steppe, to the east the Shira plateau and Kibo, northwest,the Natron Badlands.

The climb up Meru is nowhere difficult or technical, but the altitude may well affect some people adversely. For 3 or 4 days invested in the climb, Mt Meru will yield a rich reward of scenery, wildlife, flora  and geology. She will also provide the radical changes in environment that refresh the spirit and the physical challenge that renews the body. Whether as a warm up for the trek of Kilimanjaro, as a weekend trip for a visitor to Arusha or in combination with an extended visit to the varied and beautiful National Parks in Arusha ,Mt Meru will reward her visitors.