About 40 miles west of Mount Kilimanjaro lies Mount Meru, a neat triangle of a mountain usually flanked by a blanket of cloud. The mountain’s within Arusha National Park, a peaceful haven for a variety of wildlife, including giraffes, leopards, and hyenas who slink around in the early hours. Treks up this 15,000-foot dormant volcano usually take three to four days, and a climb is a popular precursor for those planning to hike Kilimanjaro because it allows them to acclimatize to the altitude ahead of time. Treks begin at the park’s Momella Gate. At overnight stops in mountain huts along the route, the hiking guides regularly regale clients with stories of the wild animal encounters they’ve had in the park during their careers.

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