I can’t feel my toes. I clench my teeth. Layered with two pairs of socks, shorts, long pants, a t-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, a thermal shirt, a waterproof fleece jacket, a neck warmer, a beanie and a pair of thermal gloves lacking in the thermal department, I am waiting near the top of Mt Meru, 4,561 metres above Arusha National Park, for the sun to thaw out the icicles.

mt-meru_dawn

 

I am an hour early for the sun and just have to wait, sitting on stone-cold rocks, hands shoved deep into my pockets, chin tucked in, hiding away from the cutting breeze.

Below me a couple appears, their flashlights bobbing through the bluish light of the ¾ moon that had escorted us for the last one thousand metres from Saddle Hut.

I had hiked for three days passing buffalo, zebra, warthog and giraffe. For our protection, an obligatory armed ranger led us up the mountain. Up through shady forests. Up through a big-enough-for-a-car-to-drive-through arched base of a giant fig tree, climbing higher into painfully fresh air. I had spent 4½ zigzagging hours of trudging higher, past Spanish moss hanging down from the branches of tall, skinny trees, resembling Colobus monkey tails, until I reached Saddle Hut.

mt-meru_fig-tree

 

mt-meru_vegetation

 

mt-meru_vegetation-2

 

mt-meru_vegetation-3

 

mt-meru_saddle-hut

 

mt-meru_alpine-vegetation

 

mt-meru_view

 

Traversing the last five metres, light-headed from the lack of oxygen, I staggered over the rocks as a deep blood-orange coloured in the horizon, silhouetting Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain (and the world’s highest free-standing mountain at 5,895 meters), a third of its peak covered with snow.

mt-meru_sunrise

 

mt-meru_sunrise-2

 

mt-meru_view-of-kilimanjaro

 

mt-meru_view-of-kilimanjaro-2
mt-meru_summiting

 

mt-meru_at-the-summit

 

A cliff-edge dropped towards Ash Crater, an almost perfect cylindrical cone rising from Meru’s demolished crater, caused by its last explosion in 1910, bringing an end to its volcanic life.

mt-meru_crater

 

mt-meru_crater-2

 

mt-meru_little-meru

 

The sun tinted Kilimanjaro with a warm golden light; a warmth that was taking far too long to reach us. Behind us, Meru cast a long, dark, perfect triangular shadow across the Great Rift Valley and the low-lying clouds covering the earth.

mt-meru_view-of-the-rift-valley

 

mt-meru_cliff

 

mt-meru_cliff-2

 

It took three days to climb uphill to reach the peak of this majestic rock.

Now to do it all downhill – in just one day.

Many thanks to Simon from The Nomadic Diaries for this wonderful contribution! Be sure to stop by The Nomadic Diaries Facebook page.

 

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7 Comments

  1. November 18, 2016 at 6:42 pm — Reply

    Incredible! I really want to visit Tanzania one day and after looking through these photos I think Mt Meru better be on my list. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. November 20, 2016 at 4:05 pm — Reply

    Awesome photos! Thanks for making the climb for me, you lost me at freezing toes. That must be the biggest fig tree on the planet, incredible. #wkendtravelinspiration
    Jim ~ ReflectionsEnroute recently posted…Family Christmas Traditions You Can Take On Vacation With YouMy Profile

  3. November 21, 2016 at 7:16 am — Reply

    How awesome! I hope to do this one day too along with climbing Kilimanjaro. These photos are absolutely spectacular! Well done!

  4. November 22, 2016 at 9:57 am — Reply

    I wasn’t expecting that puppet. Wonderful photos all around, especially that fig tree. The landscape is stunning, so it seems that the hike was very much worthwhile. (And probably not one that I would be adventurous enough to do, so thanks for letting me enjoy it vicariously.)
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted…Tibetan Monks Debate at Sera MonasteryMy Profile

  5. November 22, 2016 at 8:02 pm — Reply

    I liked the post and also the photos, very good the site congratulations a lot, thank you!!
    Tom recently posted…Apostila de violão para iniciantes pdf Download GrátisMy Profile

  6. November 24, 2016 at 5:40 pm — Reply

    what a cool experience. it looks like it was challenging but no doubt worth it — congratulations on making it to the top!

  7. June 30, 2017 at 9:30 am — Reply

    WOW, what an adventure! I’m not much of a hiker but this just makes me inspired to try

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