Climbing both Mt. Meru and Kilimanjaro is often recommended as a great "warm up" for Kili.
Mount Meru is 4562 m high. That's a height that most people can climb to without developing severe altitude sickness symptoms.
Having been to that height already, does help when climbing Kilimanjaro.
Mt. Meru is a great climb and I really recommend it to anyone, for reasons that I already explained on the main page about Mt. Meru.
But there are some caveats if you want to climb Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro together!
If you want to take advantage of the altitude acclimatisation effect you need to climb Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro back to back.
You should climb Mt. Kilimanjaro immediataly after Mt. Meru. And I really mean immediately. You arrive at the bottom of Mt. Meru, transport should be waiting there to take you to Marangu (or Moshi), and early the next morning you start your Kilimanjaro climb.
No break, no time to recover. You may need to do some washing and repacking in the evening, there will be a briefing to attend...
And make no mistake, Mt. Meru is a challenging and demanding climb!
Most people expect it to be easy since it isn't as long or high a trek as Kilimanjaro. Wrong! I don't know anybody who is not taken by surprise by how challenging this climb is. Read the detailed description of the Mt. Meru climb to find out why. (coming soon)
4562 m/14967 ft is serious altitude, most people WILL feel it, it IS hard on your body.
But most importantly, the climb itself, that last night to the summit, is a much more difficult and more challenging trek than even the last night on Kilimanjaro. Do not underestimate Mt. Meru!
Having said that, even though you will come down from Mt. Meru and feel tired and worn out, it won't necessarily affect you on your Kilimanajaro climb. It depends how used you are to trekking and camping out.
The first few days on Kilimanjaro are not hard. Depending on which Kilimanjaro route you take and how much time you allow, none of the days may be hard at all, except for that last summit night. You recover not before you climb Kili, but while you climb Kili...
When my 64 year old mother decided to climb Kilimanjaro, I suggested she climb Mt. Meru as well. She had been dreaming about a Kilimanjaro trek for so long, I wanted to be absolutely sure that she would make it to the top of Kili.
She was very concerned about doing the two mountains back to back. She worried she would be too tired at the start of the Kilimanjaro climb. She knows how long it takes her to get over a night without sleep. (The summit day on Mt. Meru starts at midnight, just like it does on Kili...)
But luckily she trusted my judgement and experience.
I know her well enough. I knew that in her case it would not be a problem. And I was right.
While she was certainly a bit tired on the first two days on Kilimanjaro, those days gave her plenty of opportunity to recover from the Mt. Meru climb.
She really enjoyed those two days. In her own words those days were pure relaxation, a pleasurable stroll. She also enjoyed every day after. It was getting difficult for other group members who started to feel the altitude, but it wasn't difficult for her.
As our guide on Mt. Meru correctly predicted, the Kilimanjaro climb was "a piece of cake" for her. Yes, even in the later stages, even during the summit night, she never struggled at all, due to her excellent altitude acclimatization.
When you speak to Kilimanjaro guides they will all tell you that people who climb Mt. Meru and Kilimanjaro together pretty much always make it to the top of Kilimanjaro without serious problems.
But keep in mind that most people who want to do both mountains together would probably be experienced trekkers to start with.
My mother is not what I'd call fit and she also smokes. However, we've done a lot of hiking and camping together in the past. She is used to walking all day and to camping out.
(Or rather, I made sure that by the time we arrived in Tanzania she was once again used to walking all day. See the page about training for Kilimanjaro.)
So basically, as long as walking and camping itself does not tire you out, climbing Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro back to back should not be a problem.
On the other hand, if you have never done any trekking or longer hikes in your life and have never done any camping, then you will experience it differently.
If you aren't used to being on your feet all day, if you don't sleep well in a tent (or a basic hut without facilities), then obviously you will NOT recover from your Mt. Meru climb.
And fitness will not make a difference here. It isn't about fitness. It really is about being used to the particular demands of trekking. So be honest with yourself, and if required, do the necessary preparation and training, which is to say, do as much full day and overnight hiking as you can fit in.
Because climbing Mt. Meru and Kilimanjaro together is a great thing to do. It not only increases your chances of success on Kilimanjaro, but you also get to see the rich wildlife, the thick vegetation and the real wilderness that is left on Mt. Meru. It's a very beautiful mountain!
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