Too be honest I have really only dipped my toes in the water of what's available down here, particularly when it comes to dangerous animals - though I spent a week armed with a rifle as a back-up guide for a horse-trekking operation in the Okavango delta which was mad!! Had to stand on a beach protecting guests from crocodiles and hippos, heard lots of lions but despite sitting up through the night guarding horses on a couple of occassions I have not yet seen one, but came FAR too close to a Brown Hyaena as I was escorting guests back to their tent - basically it walked between me and the guest in the dark and frightened the bejeses out of me!
I think it would be great to hear more about African stuff - there are some incredible trails and staggering landscapes, and though I am slowly starting to do more down here though sometimes it is confusing to know where to start...
No, I think it was just Kak African batteries that were probably 7 years out of date !! I've had it before where I have bought duracell or everready and at home discovered that they were completely flat... One of those things that I should have known better and checked before I had to rely on it, but hindsight is a wonderful thing...
Frustratingly I have an MSR purifier but it was in a box in Johannesburg which wasn't a lot of help! The regulations of the park are that you have to take a ranger as mentioned, but also a guide and at least one porter / cook (some parties had their porters carrying 100litre tote bags or suitcases up the mountain! Ours seemed a little disappointed that we were carrying our own gear). They supplied us with boiled water as we needed (I used approx 2.5 litres per day), and I drank from a couple of the higher streams on the way without any problems. I had a thermal jacket for my camelback which I was very glad of in the heat - it worked brilliantly keeping me supplied with cool water all day - simply left it outside overnight to chill it.
The head torch was a bit of a nightmare - I should have known better having lived in Africa for 5 years, but would definitely take rechargeables (and probably a solar charger for pre-climb top up in case power is out) next time as then I could be sure that they were juiced-up. Made the 5 hours of the summit push quite interesting having to do it in the dark which I definitely wouldn't recommend!
Back in Cape Town after a successful trip up Meru - quite beautiful. We had some minor gear issues, (like new head torch batteries giving out about 20 mins into the summit climb! TIA), but all in all it was a spectacular walk.
We did it over 4 days with approx 1000m ascent first two, 1000m summit and then 2000 descent on day 3, with final 1000m on the 4th morning. Technically it was very simple with just some basic scrambling on the summit push, but walking up through Buffalo, Giraffes, Ellies, and regularly seeing hyena and leopard spoor was magical.
As mentioned, you are not allowed into the park with a gun toting (or gun dropping in our case) ranger, and ours tried to pull a little scam on us at the 2nd base camp by substituting a 2nd ranger for the summit who we were then expected to "look after very well" when it came to tipping - we stuck to our original agreement though it was helped by being with a Tanzanian local.
All in all it was a stunning trip - my fitness levels are not high and I managed fine, so if anyone is going and is freaked (as I was) by the sites saying that altitude experience, and exceptional levels of fitness are required, don't panic. For the latter, I think it is aimed at Americans (of whom there were a few larger varieties who really struggled) and if you're able to walk for 4 hours then that's plenty good enough. Altitude wise we fortunately had no problems (probably because we all smoke) though we passed a number of people suffering sickness and miserableness so definitely worth being aware of the signs; I noticed a headache coming on at about 4,300 so we stopped, dropped 20 metres or so for 10 minutes, and then carried on without problem.
The route was quite a lot busier than I expected it to be, with about 30 visitors (plus rangers, guides, and porters) on each section, but the trail is spread out enough that the only time we really encountered anybody was on the summit push (when we left late and had to pass everyone), and at the huts. Oh, and the huts were of a very high standard - four-bunk rooms, comfortable, clean, showers (when there was water), and stunning views.
Thanks again for all your input guys - and if anyone is planning on going, enjoy!
I have recently found out that an innocuous visit to see a friend in Tanzania is going to include a hike up Mount Meru, and as I am currently between homes and nearly 6000 miles from all my kit I could use some advice on what I am going to need!
From the digging I have done I am going to wear XCR approach shoes - have bought some Merrell Chameleons, and I have some Ronhill leggings, Fleece bouldering pants, a summer base layer, gore t-shirt, fleece, hat and gloves, and -3 comfort rated bag. I am assuming that I will need a shell, and have a 25litre day pack into which I have to fit everything, so light and small is the order of the day.