Day : 1 Drive from Arusha to Momela Gate, hike to Miriakampa Hut
Starting from Momela Gate, the track passes through open grassland with Cape buffalo and warthogs. With luck, you may also see giraffe and elephants. Continue a steady climb through montane forest. You can have your lunch at the famous “Fig tree”. After lunch, the trek continues through less dense forest, where there are lots of birds and monkeys including the black and white colobus. By mid-afternoon, you will have your first close views of the towering cliffs and the Ash Cone. Miriakampa Hut, situated in idyllic grassy glade, is reached in time to enjoy the afternoon sun and beautiful views over the surrounding plains towards Kilimanjaro.
Budget Lodging: Miriakampa Hut
Day : 2 Hike Miriakampa Hut to Saddle Hut, afternoon hike up Little Meru
The walk from Miriakampa Hut to the saddle below Little Meru is a steep sustained climb all the way. Starting through beautiful and lush montane forest, the path continues beyond the halfway point of Elephant Back Ridge and carries on uphill through the giant heather and other moorland vegetation to reach Saddle Hut for lunch. In the afternoon, you can make the short climb to the nearby summit of Little Meru (3,820 m / 12,533 ft) for superb views. It takes about 1 hour to walk up and 30 minutes to walk down. The ascent is 1,056 m / 3,465 ft.
Budget Lodging: Saddle Hut
Day : 3 Hike to Summit then down to trail head, return to Moshi
Summit day has an early start at around 12:00AM. There is a 1 hour steep climb to Rhino Point (3,800m / 12,467ft), and then the path continues along a ridge of ash and rock to reach Cobra Point (4,350m / 14,272ft). The summit of Socialist Peak (4,566 m) is an hour further on a steep path with magnificent views of Kilimanjaro. Depending on your speed, you can enjoy sunrise at Cobra Point or the summit. The views are stunning: the cliffs of the Crater rim, the Ash Cone rising from the crater floor, Kilimanjaro floating on the morning clouds, and the Rift Valley. The route back to Rhino Point in the sharp morning light along a narrow ridge between the sloping outer wall of the crater and the sheer cliffs of the inner wall is one of the most dramatic and exhilarating walks in Africa. Brunch and a brief rest are taken at Saddle Hut before continuing the descent to Miriakamba Hut.
NOTE: For an easier climb, you can start the trek at 05:00 A.M., hike for about 1 hour, and enjoy sunrise at Rhino Point before going back to Saddle Hut for breakfast and then descending.
NOTE: In icy conditions or in strong winds, it may be impossible for anyone to progress beyond Rhino Point. There are two ways down from here. You can descend the route you came up or walk down the jeep road, which descends to the lower crater floor. You pass through the well-known Fig Tree Arch and can visit an impressive waterfall hidden in a ravine not far from the road.
A fast descent through open grassland and mixed forest, with good chances of seeing wildlife. This trail has excellent views back towards the crater and over the plains of the National Park. We’ll have lunch on the way down. Momela Gate is reached by mid-day or afternoon.