Hiking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
Hiking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda takes you up on top of some of the most magnificent Virunga Mountains that offer you that most amazing nature sites with unmatchable beauty comprising of unique views of the region from the top, green tropical vegetation, crater lakes and some sights of wildlife and birds that live naturally in the Virunga region.
There are 8 Virunga Mountains that are spread across three countries that is Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic republic of Congo and of the 8 mountains, 5 mountains are within the Rwandan bounds in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
These 5 mountains are all dormant and they collectively make up Volcanoes National Park hiking trails, the mountains include:-
- Mount Karisimbi
- Mount Bisoke (shared with DRC)
- Mount Sabyinyo(shared with Uganda and DRC)
- Mount Gahinga (shared with Uganda)
- Mount Muhavura (shared with Uganda)
Hiking one of these five mountains is a lifetime experience and currently in Volcanoes National Park, four of the five mountains can be hiked and these are Mount Karisimbi, Mount Bisoke, Mount Gahinga and Mount Muhavura.
Mount Sabyinyo though thrilling beautiful and one with the most beautiful views of the Virunga region because it’s at centre of the region, the mountain is not hiked in Rwanda because of its rough and steep ridges combined with craters that make hiking this mountain impossible or a nightmare that can be fatal for those trying to take on the challenge; however this mountain can safely be hiked on the Ugandan side.
All the four mountains can be hiked any time of the year; however it’s easier to hike during the dry seasons because of the dry trails which make ascending to the top much easier. The dry months are June, July, August, December, January and February. The wet months which are March, April, May, September, October and November though making the climb up the mountain tiring because of the wet trails, they give the coolest hiking experiences, the temperatures for hiking are just right during these months and the views in these months are beyond spectacular they are simple the most breath taking, so depending on what you are aiming to get from the hike any season can be your best season for a hike on any of these four mountains.
Hikes to these mountains are paid separately, with a hike to each mountain attracting a different fee, different rangers and hiking schedules, so be sure to inquire with your tour operator about the fees, schedules and particular things for the mountain you are interested to hike.
Though hiking each mountain is under a separate arrangement, for all hikes on any of the mountains, you should be well prepared for the hike meaning you have to have the right attire and equipment for the hike. The right things for any hike include but not limited to waterproof hiking footwear, gloves, hiking stick, hats/caps to protect from sun rays, mildly light and thick long sleeved clothing and trousers to protect you from insects, thorns as they also keep you light enough for the climb, raincoats and umbrellas for the rain seasons, food and water, camping gear if you are hiking Mount Karisimbi and many more things that are normally communicated to you by the hiking rangers.
Hiking any of these mountains gives you a unique and spectacular experience, so to help you get to know the different mountains below we highlight some facts about each mountain.
This is a dormant volcano standing at 3711m with a 400m diameter crater lake at its peak. This mountain borders Rwanda and the DRC but its peak is in Rwanda, so on a hike to the top you will be able to see the peak and the huge crater. This is the most hiked mountain among the four mountains because of its less strenuous trails that can be hiked by almost anyone, even first-timers. The entire hike takes about 6 to 7 hours with more hours spent on the climb than the descent.
The highest mountain among the 8 virunga mountains stands at 4507m and though located close to the equator it is known to snow during a few months in the year. This mountain being the highest, it takes 2 days to climb and descend the mountain and because of this long climb, the mountain is only hiked by seasoned hikers because of its long steep and strenuous hiking trails. On a two day hike, hikers spend a night at the mountain’s 3700m elevation.
This mountain is only in Rwanda and at its peak you are able to glance at the different areas of the land of thousand hills.
Mount Muhavura also called Muhabura borders Rwanda and Uganda and stands at 4127m. The mountain’s peak has a crater lake that though not a huge as the one of mount Bisoke it’s also beautiful to view. The top of the mountain also gives great views of the Rwanda and Uganda and the twin lakes Ruhondo and Burera that are below the mountain. A hike on this mountain takes about 6 to 8 hours, of course, you spend more time ascending than descending. Though not as tough as Mount Karisimbi, to hike this mountain one needs to be fit and slightly seasoned.
This mountain is shared by Rwanda and Uganda and stands at 3474m, making it the shortest of all the Virunga Mountains. Because it’s short, though it has beautiful views at the top, they are not as scenic as the other three, so people rarely opt to hike it; however, this is the best option for first-time hikers because it’s short and less strenuous to hike. It takes about 4 to 6 hours to go up and come down the mountain.