It’s hard to stand in the shadow of the majestic, world known Kilimanjaro! Named kili’s young sister with its 4566m high, mount Meru is the second highest Tanzanian mountain. Less popular with the tourists but also less crowded, Mt Meru is a spectacular ascent up to a volcanic cone. One of East Africa’s most scenic and rewarding climbs.

A trek to summit takes you through grassland and lush forest on the mountain’s lower slopes, followed by a breathtaking walk along the knife-edge of the crater rim.

Mt. Meru has a circular base about 20km. It rises above the plains as an almost perfect cone with an internal crater surrounded by a steep wall of cliffs. The wall broke at an altitude of 2500m giving the mountain the shape of a giant horseshoe.

The cliffs of the inner wall below the summit  1500m- are among the tallest in Africa. Inside the crater, more recent volcanic eruptions have created a subsidiary peak called the Ash Cone.

Sometimes treated as an acclimatization trip before an attempt on Kilimanjaro, with its summit 1.3km lower, Mt Meru climb can be just as rewarding, as spectacular as the Kilimanjaro ascent.

The vegetation is similar to Kilimanjaro slopes though the high altitude glaciers and ice fields are absent. Evergreen forest begins at 1800meters, moist cool and thick at first, then thinning as you climb.

The higher forest, including giant bamboo (up to 12meter tall), offers an ideal habitat for small duiker antelopes as well as primates, notably blue monkey and black and white colobus.

The forest disappears around 2900m, giving way to floral meadows where you might spot buffalo, giraffe or warthog, followed by a zone of giant lobelia and groundsel.

Finally, the track leads you to a bleak alpine desert where the only sounds, apart from your breath, are the wind and the cries of white-necked ravens.