Mount Karisimbi is a mountain in Rwanda and apart of the 8 Volcanoes that make up the Virunga mountains; the dormant volcano is the highest of the 8 Virunga volcanoes standing at 4,507 meters high and ranked number 11 in the highest mountain of Africa. The mountain tough mostly in Rwanda the mountain also borders the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mountain that is surrounded by other Volcanoes like Bisoke, Mikeno, and Nyiragongo is named Karisimbi to mean white shell because of the snow the normally is at the mountain peak during the dry seasons; the peak also boasts two craters and caldera Branca.
Mount Karismbi is located in Volcanoes National Park north of Kigali city, Rwanda’s capital; it takes you about 2 to 3 hours to get to the park for your visit or hike to the mountain.
Hiking Mount Karisimbi is not only a great achievement for climbers but a lifetime experience that hikers delight to engage in; the hike to this mount gives you a special experience though you should know that this mountain is one the toughest mountains to hike in the region, so if you are a first-time hiker, it may not be appropriate for you.
The hike to the mountain gives you a chance to sight numerous birds that live in the Hagenia forest, golden monkeys, and mountain gorillas if you are lucky and you get to pass by the Dian Fossey grave; the hiking trail also has a lot of physical scenery including the dense forest and unique landscapes.
Hiking mount Karisimbi is mostly done during the dry seasons between January and March and July and October; this is the most advised time to have your hiking experience because this tough hike involves moving through muddy trails even on dry days, steep slopes and darken jungles which can be worse during the rainy season.
Mount Karisimbi hiking experience is accessed at a permit fee of 400 USD per person per hike. The hiking permits are purchased at Volcanoes National Park offices, at least a week in Advance to allow the hiking management to prepare for all the necessary details. That said some people have been lucky enough to purchase permits on the day of the hike, though this is highly discouraged because last min purchases can cause uncertain hiccups in the hiking organization.
A typical hike to mount Karisimbi takes two days and will start on day one as early as 7 am with a briefing session the Volcanoes National Park offices. When the briefing session is done, hikers with the hiking guide will be driven an hour from the park offices to the hike start point which is at the foot of Mount Bisoke, where you start the climb to the mountain peak.
On day one of the hiking experience, you will hike up to an altitude of 3700 where you spend the night before you continue on your climb the next day. At this altitude, you normally set camp, prepare dinner, share stories if you like and if in a group that doesn’t mind then all of you will rest for the night. The night on this altitude is extremely cold so you should carry enough warmers for yourself.
The next day you will be up, early have breakfast and embark on a climb to the peak of the mountain which is roughly an hour climb though may take more than an hour because of the stronger winds at that altitude, steeper landscape, misty cover, and the muddy trails. So hikers have to overcome all those obstacles to get to the amazing peak of the mountain that gives you scenic scenery to see, as you view the virunga vegetation, Nyamulagira and Nyiragongo Volcanoes in the Democratic republic of Congo, the DRC border plus Muhavura in Uganda/Rwanda. There is no time cap on how long you can stay at the peak on mount Karisimbi, however, the altitudes at the mountain peak are not human-friendly so they cannot allow you to stay at the top for long; hikers normally stay for 30 or fewer minutes depending on the conditions up there.
After your time at the peak, you then move back to the Bisoke foot, from where you are driven to the park offices and from the offices you go to your accommodation.
For this hiking experience to mount Karisimbi remember to carry:-
- of course, hiking shoes waterproof preferably waterproof
- warmers especially for the night
- raincoat, waterproof clothing
- tent for the camp night
- sleeping bag
- packed food for the 2 days
- water for the entire hike
- walking stick
- among other things
A more comprehensive list of requirements can be provided to you by the Rwanda Office for Tourism and National park or your tour operator. Also, you can hire a porter to move with on the hike and help you carry your luggage.