For the first time in history, nearly 30 riders are peddling their bicycles ascending to the top of Tanzania’s second highest peak, Mount Meru.
The daring mountain bikers’ expedition takes three full days to reach the rather clouded Meru Peak, piercing the sky at 4566 meters above sea level.
That same third day of summiting is used to descend back from the highest Meru point, down to Momella Gate, ending where it all started.
It is a new form of tourism now offered by the Arusha National Park, from which the dormant volcanic mountain sprouts.
The Assistant Commissioner of Conservation Albert Mziray who is also the conservator in-charge at the Arusha National Park, says Mountain Biking to the Meru summit complements a series of alternative tourism packages from the precinct.
Other new activities launched recently at the include vintage car tourism, horse riding and in-park marathon.
Now, riding from Momella Gate to the peak of Meru, is described to be the latest phyisically active and thrilling repose-in-tourism.
But cycling a corrugated 4500 meters of steep elevation towards the sky, balancing on two wheels and a narrow saddle can also be a tasking endeavor.
While Kilimanjaro tops the bill of being the World’s highest free standing mountain, Mount Meru on the other hand has a mind of its own, when it comes to challenging steep climbs.
That means, more often than not, the cyclists are compelled to carry their own bike whenever they reach those sharp, rocky escalations.
“Arusha National Park is already an attractive destination, but one which needs more interesting activities of international levels,” said Dr Bakari Mnaya, the Assistant Commissioner of Conservation for the Tanzania National Parks.
Dr Mnaya who is also in-charge of Conservation and Business Development at TANAPA explained that they were anticipating to receive more visitors following recent tourism promotional drive that President Samia Suluhu Hassan initiated both locally and abroad.
Among the participants there is Kelvin Didas the champion of East African Bike racing; “Except today we are not racing, but simply climbing Meru on Mountain Bicycles, enjoying the scenery in the process,” he said.
An international cyclist, Richard Laizer, who has raced in as far as France and Scortland adds that, they have hatched special biking routes for Mount Meru.
“We worked with the management of Arusha National Park to draw new riding routes different from those used by people trekking on foot and steer away from roads,” Laizer pointed out.
Riding on time
- The first day sees cyclist peddling 11 kilometers from Momella Gate to Miriakamba Hut 2500 Meters Above Sea Level
- The second day the journey resumes from Miriakamba Hut covering 5 kilometers to Saddle Hut, at 3500 Meters Above Sea Level
- On the third day the expedition rides from Saddle Hut heading to the top summit, a distance of 4 kilometers to attain the 4566 summit
Expedition coordinator, Thad Peterson, the director of Dorobo Safaris, one of the oldest tour companies in Tanzania, gets even more excited by the prospects;
“It is a historical feat to get the first bicycle on the peak of Mount Meru; furthemore, this is also the first time that so many bicycles have entered the Arusha National Park. Of course a trekker riding w wheelchair once made it to the Meru Summit, but a bicycle? Well, Never. Until now that is!”Thad Peterson
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