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.



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.















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.












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.







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.







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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  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

  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.)

  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!!

  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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