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