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Mount Meru and Safari Trip Report

Moun­tain Mad­ness guide Ben Mal­i­ty recent­ly led four clients on a climb of Mount Meru, fol­lowed by a stun­ning safari packed with lions, zebras, chee­tahs, hun­dreds of ele­phants, and more! Read his com­plete trip report for more details.

Myself (Ben) and Ernest, the dri­ver, picked up our clients on the evening of June 23rd. They were a famil­iar fam­i­ly of moth­er (Nik­ki), father (Scott), and daugh­ter (Emma), hav­ing pre­vi­ous­ly done the Kil­i­man­jaro climb and safari with Moun­tain Mad­ness. This trip they were also joined by an aunt, Cindy, who was with Moun­tain Mad­ness for the first time. We arrived at Itikoni camp, where din­ner was fol­lowed by an ear­ly bed time in prepa­ra­tion for the next day’s climb.

After a rainy night every­one woke feel­ing well and ready for the climb. Break­fast was fol­lowed by a brief­ing; we start­ed our hike at 11am and stopped for a pic­nic lunch at 1:15. The hike was great, and we reached Miri­akam­ba hut sta­tion at 2500 meters where we stopped for the night.

Along the Mount Meru route.

The fol­low­ing day we head­ed toward Sad­dle hut sta­tion. The climb was chal­leng­ing from the start, begin­ning with a steep sec­tion. Nik­ki had a rough night, and con­sid­ered turn­ing back half an hour from the start. How­ev­er, she pressed on and decid­ed to con­tin­ue as far as Sad­dle. The group reached the hut, had lunch, and then slept before din­ner. Din­ner was at 5:30pm, then every­one went back to sleep for a short time before our 11:30 pm wake up call. Nik­ki decid­ed that she would not con­tin­ue on to the top of the big Meru, but I con­vinced her to start in the morn­ing and do the Lit­tle Meru. She agreed, and her hus­band Scott accom­pa­nied her.

The group ascend­ing Meru.

At mid­night we had break­fast with Cindy and Emma before we start­ed our climb to Big Meru. It was warm and nice until we passed Rhi­no point. It was then windy and cold the whole way up. They did well and we reached top at 6am. They took some pic­tures and we start­ed the descent back to Sad­dle. Emma was feel­ing very tired at the top but she recov­ered on the way down. We were met by Nik­ki and Scott before camp; they were hap­py but tired from their suc­cess­ful Lit­tle Meru climb. Lunch was at 12:15pm and after lunch we start­ed to descend. We met the car above Kito­to and pro­ceed­ed to Moivaro Lodge for the night.

A suc­cess­ful sum­mit of Meru with Cindy and Emma.

Mag­i­cal views descend­ing Mount Meru.

All woke up feel­ing well and two oth­ers who came late at night joined the group for break­fast. I went there ear­ly that morn­ing to join them and talk about the safari. I did a safari brief­ing which was short as most of them were here with me four years ago; only Cindy and Rebec­ca were not here last time. After brief­ing we loaded the vehi­cle and start­ed our dri­ve to Lake Man­yara Nation­al Park. 

The group excit­ed for safari adventures.

It was a treat for the clients because their pre­vi­ous trip did not include the Nation­al Park. We saw lots of birds, espe­cial­ly yel­low billed stocks and white pel­i­cans. The big herd of cape buf­faloes were among the ani­mals we saw there, along with oth­er ani­mals like giraffes and ele­phants which were seen at a dis­tance. We had lunch at Msasa pic­nic site, then drove to Ngoron­goro Con­ser­va­tion Area. At our nice pri­vate camp we were wel­comed by the camp staff, led by Msi­fu­ni (camp man­ag­er). The group lat­er enjoyed learn­ing the Orpul plus the tra­di­tion­al Maa­sai dance. We were joined for din­ner by some nice peo­ple from the US, and every­one exchanged stories.

Birds in the Lake Man­yara Nation­al Park.

Emma and Cindy.

Enjoy­ing some down time in the library tent.

The fol­low­ing day at the crater we saw lots of zebras, wilde­beests, cape buf­faloes, gazelles, ele­phants, lions, warthogs, hip­pos and many oth­er ani­mals. It was a nice game dri­ve! We also saw two Rhi­nos at a far dis­tance; no one could take a pic­ture but we used binoc­u­lars to look. We had our pic­nic lunch as usu­al in the crater and it was good to see oth­er groups eat lunch box­es while we had fresh food. We got out of the crater at 3:30pm and drove to have a vis­it to Olé Dorop Boma. We met Sanin’go (Olé Dorop’s son) and he was hap­py to show us the Boma and every­thing that the clients want­ed to learn about the Maa­sai tribe. After all that we returned to camp for show­ers, drinks and dinner.

Rebec­ca and a mem­ber of the Maa­sai tribe.

In the morn­ing we packed our gear and loaded the vehi­cle ready to go to Serengeti. The clients said good­bye to the camp staff, then we drove to Oldu­vai Gorge. It was a good place to vis­it, espe­cial­ly for Cindy who does research on dinosaurs in the US. She was hap­py to see where and how the fos­sils were dat­ed. She also did a walk to the gorge with Scott and Rebec­ca. The rest read the his­to­ry in the muse­um only. We drove to Serengeti with a pic­nic lunch stop at Naabi gate. Our game dri­ve was excel­lent as we saw 33 lions, hun­dreds of ele­phants, three chee­tahs, one leop­ard, two croc­o­diles, hun­dreds of zebras and many more. We got to camp at 6pm hap­py for the good day. Camp ori­en­ta­tion fol­lowed, then all went to have a show­er before the camp fire at sun­set with drinks.

Chee­tah in the Serengeti.

The morn­ing was good and all woke up well despite the night­time activ­i­ties of ani­mals. There were hye­nas call­ing for the whole night plus jack­als and lions near camp. If that was not enough, zebras made the most the noise – non­stop! That was great enter­tain­ment and every­one was happy. 

After break­fast we start­ed our game dri­ve. Luck­i­ly, we watched two lioness­es hunt and make a kill to a zebra. They both helped each oth­er to kill then one went to fetch the cubs. We watched the whole scene and that was great. It was good that they hide the kill because some of our clients did not want to watch, while oth­ers want­ed to watch. We were only with two more cars, and the late­com­ers missed the action. It was a very good morn­ing fol­lowed by a dri­ve back to camp for lunch. After lunch, a short rest was fol­lowed by one last game drive.

Lioness­es in the Serengeti.

Rebec­ca excit­ed by the pho­to opportunities.

The after­noon game dri­ve was nice but not like the morn­ing we did. We saw basi­cal­ly the same but with addi­tion of more hip­pos and croc­o­diles. There were still many more wilde­beest and zebras near our camp. We did see one lioness near the camp as well, and thought that might bring some action at night. 

The group enjoy­ing a final break­fast in pri­vate camp.

The fol­low­ing day brought our reluc­tant depar­ture from the Serengeti and an end to the trip. All six clients were thrilled with their safari expe­ri­ence, and four added the accom­plish­ment of a sum­mit climb. I hope to see them all for anoth­er trip soon!

~MM Guide Ben Mality