Mount Meru is home to many incredible waterfalls, which pour down from the volcanic slopes. After a night of heavy rain, I made a day trip to explore one of the largest waterfalls at the base of Mount Meru, aptly named Mount Meru Waterfall. This adventure involves a steep motorbike drive up a rocky road followed by a jungle stairway that leads you down into a gorge. Once inside, you wade through the river, clambering over rocks until you meet the intense falls that spray with incredible force at its base. A remarkable sight and only a few kilometers from the town, the Mount Meru waterfall is one of the top things to do in Arusha.
MOUNT MERU HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike is roughly 4-5km out and back (return trip)
Hike Duration: Heading from the ticket office down to the waterfall and directly back should take about 1.5-2 hours.
Hike Difficulty: This trail is moderately difficult due to slippery conditions and wading through the river. Most people with average fitness and a sense of adventure will be okay as it is nothing technical. Be prepared to get wet.
Hike Incline: 200 meters.
WHERE IS THE MOUNT MERU WATERFALL
I’ll be honest, I’m still confused as to all of the names of these waterfalls near Mount Meru. Normally I try and give highly accurate information and google map pins to help you explore but there are just too many different waterfalls labeled as Mount Meru Waterfall. Even my local guide told me it was called Mount Meru Waterfall. However, when I search it on google images there are 4-5 different falls all seemingly sharing the same name, including the falls that I passed on the final day of the Mount Meru volcano trek. Having said that, I will give you directions to reach the Mount Meru Waterfall that I visited, which was definitely worth visiting and reminded me a lot of Sekumpul Falls in Bali due to the extreme force smashing down at the base of the falls.
Mount Meru Waterfall is inside the Meru Conservation Area and just above the Themi Leisure Park. To reach this area you will need to take a boda-boda (motorbike) up the rocky, muddy hill. A tuk-tuk won’t get you up there. It is one kilometer past the Themi Leisure Park. On the left, there is a driveway that veers up towards the entrance of the Meru Conservation Area.
Below is the location for the top of Waterfall Road where you will find the entrance to Meru Conservation Area although this pin is not the exact location of the entrance as it isn’t on Google Maps. Just remember to go one kilometer past Themi Leisure Park (which is on Google Maps).
PERMITS AND GUIDES FOR THE MOUNT MERU WATERFALL
Once you pass through the gates of the Meru Conservation Area you will find a ticketing office where you will pay the entrance fee of $12 USD per person and will likely be met by some eager lads looking to be your guide. It is required in this area to take a guide and despite my reluctance, I will admit that they are very useful on this hike. Firstly, there are no signs and the path isn’t on maps.me or any other maps. They also show you the local angles, and tricks to get over some of the rocks, boulders, and steep sections of the trail. I think the guide fee is $15, which is quite a bit for this short trek. They may try and make you take two but there’s no need and I think it’s just so they have a mate to hang out with. Ask for just one guide and expect to pay about $15 for the guide.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE MOUNT MERU WATERFALL HIKE
At the bottom of Waterfall Road, I grabbed a boda-boda and began the steep, rocky journey past Themi Leisure Park and made it to the entrance of Meru Conservation Area. Three eager lads met us at the entrance and all seemed very keen to be our guide for the day. We paid our permit fee at the entrance office and then set off on the Mount Meru Waterfall hike.
The route follows a road before diverting into the trees on the left. There are no signs and it was clear straight away this was a classic Tanzania adventure where the guide would be required due to the lack of signage. Within minutes we were immersed in a lush jungle, with trees seemingly suffocating beneath the weight of dense ferns that seemed to cover the entire landscape.
The path quickly turned into stairs as we made our descent down into the gorge. This set of stairs and the descent down to the river reminded me a lot of Tiu Kelep Waterfall in Indonesia. It’s another volcanic country but the similarities between this region and Indonesia are uncanny. The muddy stairs were quite the scenic adventure and we did our best to stay upright after a heavy night of rain made for slippery conditions.
At the bottom of the staircase, we entered a magical wonderland. The only people in the gorge, we stopped to listen to the unique, natural sounds of the water rushing and the birds chirping. This adventure had turned out to be much more than we could have expected given the proximity to Arusha Town.
It was time to get the boots wet as we made the first dip into the icy water for what would be the first of many crossings. I suggest just getting your shoes wet. We saw a couple of people on the way back trying the hike in flip-flops and barefoot and they just looked very uncomfortable. Your shoes will dry, enjoy the hike and get a little wet.
On the way to the main falls is a smaller waterfall to get you ready for what’s to come. We actually rested here on the way back in the sun to dry up and enjoy the scenery.
The trail involves some clambering over the rocks and some slippery sections but there is nothing too technical about this trail. Only during one moment did our guides have to suggest how to reach a higher area and helped show us which parts of the rock to hold onto to pull up onto the boulder. After about thirty minutes, we reached a narrow gorge, which would be the gateway to Mount Meru Waterfall.
As we wandered through the gorge in ankle-deep water, we could already feel the mist blowing through from the Mount Meru Waterfall. The power was immense. As we rounded the final corner it just about blew us over… and this was at the start of the rainy season when the falls weren’t even at full force. It is possible to get right up close to the waterfall but take care as the power is immense and you shouldn’t get too close. You will get completely saturated so be careful with your cameras and gear if you venture near the falls.
The hike then returns the same way you came or you can create a large loop and explore some of the other waterfalls in the area. It is also possible to hike up and over the hills and do the hike to and from Arusha as a starting point. There are lots of options here depending on what type of adventure you are up for.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to the Mount Meru Waterfall hike near Arusha in Tanzania.