Mount Muhavura that is also called Mount Muhabura is one of the 8 virunga mountains that span over Uganda, Rwanda and the democratic republic of Congo. Mount Muhavura that is the third highest volcano of the 8 virunga massif and is found in south western Uganda in Mgahinga National Park; together with mount Sabinyo and Mount Gahinga make up the three mountains in Mgahinga National park.
Mount Muhavura is an extinct volcano that lies between Uganda in Mgahinga National Park and Rwanda in Volcanoes National park, with Uganda having the biggest portion of the mountain.
Muhabura/Muhavura means “the guide” in Kinyarwanda, and it’s believed the mountain was given that name because it is the highest of three mountains in Mgahinga National Park.
Hiking this mountain is one of the greatest experiences being one of the highest virunga volcanoes, it’s such an achievement to conquer it, but it also offers its hikers great views of the East African region, nature expeditions and if you are lucky you have sights of wildlife roaming around their habitat, though this is quite rare.
Hiking on this mount Muhavura is done all year round just like on other volcanoes in the region however though this experience is not as physically strenuous as mount sabinyo it can get difficult to hike this mountain because of its high altitude, the temperatures on the hiking trails keep dropping as you go up, causing altitude sickness for hikers and making it difficult for hikers to continue to the peak. The oxygen on this hiking experience gets low quickly and the cold becomes unbearable just at the first summit, so it takes a lot of will power to continue up to the peak of the mountain. Hiking this mountain is not advisable for first-timers.
The hiking experience for mount Muhavura starts at 7:00 am at the Mgahinga National park offices where you get a hiking guide and are given an overview of the hiking experience, you also get hiking sticks at this office and if you wish to, you can hire a porter at the offices to help you on the hiking trail.
On the hiking trail you will have several stops because the hike is long but there will be three main stops at specific mountain steeps, these points have small huts that offer you shade and they are meant to help rest a bit and rejuvenate your energy to take on the next level. At each stop, you will enjoy the cool breeze of the mountain and see different areas of the East African region from the top especially Rwanda and Uganda.
This hiking trail like the other hiking trails in Mgahinga National park has been improved with handmade ladders that help the hikers on their climb, so the hiking is not as cumbersome though the point leading to the peak is quite tough because it’s pretty rocky, very cold and the oxygen there is really low so hikers have to brace themselves. This is where the fatigue kicks in and people get the most altitude sickness, at times it’s so unbearable, hikers just turn back without getting to the peak.
The peak of the mountain has a crater lake and the view from the top is incredible, you will be glad when you arrive; you forget the cold and the fatigue and embrace the feeling of arrival. If you are warm enough you can fall asleep at the peak for about 15 mins before you start feeling the oxygen deficit. Normally hikers don’t stay at the top more than 30 mins or less because the altitude there gives you strong headaches and you feel like you are running out of breathe.
Some hikers take medication like acetazolamide before the hike and they say it helps on the altitude sickness; however it’s important to consultant with your doctor before you take any medication.
After experiencing the peak you will then embark on the slope, which is a little easier that the climbing up because the lower you go the more oxygen so the less altitude sickness and the advantage of gravity going down in a bit easier.
Hike takes over 9 hours because you normally get back to the trail head at 8pm and then drive back to your accommodation where you freshen up and get a great night rest. By the time you get to your accommodation your body will be aching with pain from the hike so have plan for nursing the aches after the hike.
For the hike you need to have gumboots or waterproof hiking boots, long sleeved clothing, rain coat, warmers especially for the mountain top, of course packed lunch and water enough to take you through the whole hiking experience.
Hiking permits for this hike cost 80 USD per person per hike and can be acquired at the Mgahinga park offices, one or two days before your hiking experience.