Volcano Hiking in Rwanda
Volcanoes national park protects the Rwandan part of the Virunga Mountains which it shares with Mgahinga Gorilla national park in Uganda and Virunga National park in Democratic Republic of Congo. The park has 5 of the Virunga volcanoes which are Bisoke, Gahinga, Karisimbi, Muhavura and Sabyinyo.
This makes Volcanoes national park a prime destination for Volcano Hiking in Rwanda for travelers looking for hiking and adventure activities in Rwanda. Travelers can choose among 4 main peaks out of the 5 Virunga mountain ranges to hike.
The most popular is the Mount Bisoke volcano hike which takes one day. Mount Bisoke coves Rwanda and a part of Democratic Republic of Congo however the summit is found in Rwanda. The hike starts with a briefing at the Kinigi headquarters of Volcanoes national park from your ranger guides. After the briefing you start the journey to the head trail which is the starting point for the hike, here you will find more park ranges who you will be present with you throughout the hike. The Mount Bisoke hike takes 6 hours to get to the summit and the hike is through steep and rocky ground. The hike can be walkable however one has to be physically fit. Once you get to the summit you will have spectacular views of the Crater Lake at the top which lies at 3,700 meters and equatorial rain forest. You will take great photos at the top and you will have a picnic lunch at the top depending on the weather. You then descend back and this can take about 2 hours.
The other volcano hike is to Mount Karisimbi which is at the border between Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Mount Karisimbi is the eleventh highest mountain in Africa and is the highest among the Virunga mountain ranges at 4,507 metres. Karisimbi which translates as “white shell” in local language, is in reference to the white caped cloud cover at the summit. The hike takes two days and the trek begins with a briefing from your ranger guide at Kinigi park headquarters. You are then transferred by your driver guide to the starting point of the hike which is about an hour’s drive, on arrival you meet your other ranger guides and then begin the trek. The hiking trail is along the Karisoke Research center founded by Diana Fossey a conservationist who was passionate about the mountain gorillas and the trail as well takes you through the dense forests at the slopes. You will look out for different bird species and on a lucky day you might spot golden monkeys. Overnight will be at a camp along the mountain where you will have dinner and sleep. The next day you wake up as early as 5 am and continue to the Summit, once at the summit you will have incredible and extensive views of the scenery and Crater Lake that can be seen below from the top. This hike is challenging so we advise that you physically prepare beforehand so that you are fit on the day of hiking.
The other volcanic hikes include Mount Muhabura (4,127 meters) and it takes one day to climb this mountain range and it treats you to scenic views of the twin lakes of Rwanda i.e. Lake Ruhondo and Lake Burera.
The Mount Gahinga is another hike that travelers can take up while on tour in Rwanda. The starting point is at Gatabi parking and after briefing you begin the hike to the top with your assigned ranger guides. Gahinga harbors a variety of birdlife and is also home to a population of the golden monkeys. The time taken to get to the top is 5 hours and the same time is taken to descend making it a full day activity.
Another hike is the Mount Kabuye which lies at an altitude of 2,700 meters and is located in the south east of Volcanoes national park. This hike takes you 5 hours to get to the summit.
How to prepare for your Hiking Adventure in Rwanda
- Exercise and physically prepare beforehand to ensure that you are physically fit to engage in hiking.
- Carry strong hiking boots preferably water proof boots to make your hiking experience over rocks and muddy terrain easier.
- Carry long sleeved clothing (pants and shirt) to protect you from biting insects and head gear for warmth when it gets cold along the hike.
- Carry a camera and extra batteries to take amazing photos.
- Carry packed lunch and water
- A walking stick will be given to you while at the starting point of your hike.
- We recommend that you hire a porter to help you carry your day pack since the hikes are rather challenging help is much needed. Porters will be available at a fee.