I'm leaving for Tanzania in a few weeks, and I think I'll try and get a climb of Mt. Meru in. I'm not interested in a guide service, and I have plenty of backpacking experience in the US, elevation up to 14.5k'. We're a group of 3 fit 30-somethings. Some questions:
1. Can we rent sleeping bags and a tent, or would we be better off bringing our own (which would be a hassle to cart around for the rest of our trip)?
Renting a sleeping bag will not be a problem, just bring your own liner. No tent required. All accommodation is in Huts.
2. Can we plan on getting a spot in the huts, or do they need to be reserved way in advance?
If booked with an operator there will not be a problem
3. Water. I'm planning to bring a steri-pen or a filter, but are there water sources available?
Water is available at each camp, steri pen is a good back up
4. Toileting. In my backpacking experience, I've always just found a protected spot a little ways off the trail and dug a hole. Is this possible, or are the huts the place that one should "take care of business"?
Please use the toilets at each hut.
5. Does a decent map of the mountain exist? Online, all I can find is cartoony schematics.
Just how detailed do you want? Everyone follows either of two paths from the Momela gate to Miriakamba Hut. Bottom route best. Mt Meru Map
6. We're planning to just pack our own food as if it's a regular 4-day backpacking trip anywhere else. Any reason not to do this?
Yes good idea.
7. Related question: Planning to take a Whisperlite International backpacking stove. Will I be able to find white gas/Coleman fuel?
Yes in Arusha town
8. Transportation. We fly in to Kili airport - is it difficult to hire a ride to the park gate?
No by yourself hire a taxi, with tour company transport provided.
Thanks for any and all advice. I'm sure Kili is an amazing climb, but we have neither the money nor the inclination to rub shoulders with so many people. So Meru seems like a good choice. Cheers!