Volcanoes National Park
A magnificent and ecologically diverse destination. This chain of steep free-standing mountains, spanning altitudes of 2,400m to 4,507m, and linked by fertile saddles formed by solidified lava flows, ranks among the most stirring and memorable of an African landscape. The tallest member of the chain and the most westerly part of the national park is Karisimbi (4507m) on the border with the DRC, and Mgahinga and Muhavura on the Ugandan border.
The highest of the volcanoes found within the Virunga region and is the eleventh highest in Africa. This inactive volcano is found in the Volcanoes National Park and on the border between Rwanda and DR Congo. Rising up to 4,507 metres, Mount is surrounded by other neighbouring volcanoes like Mikeno, Nyiragongo and Bisoke. The mountain gets its name Karisimbi (Kinyarwanda for “White Shell”) from the snow that usually covers the top during the dry season. Karisimbi has a caldera Branca and two craters in the summit with the largest being Mutango.
Mount Karisimbi Hike
Visitors to the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda usually combine Gorilla trekking with a Karisimbi mountain hike. Climbing Mount Karisimbi can be a strenuous but special experience. Because of its location within the Volcanoes National Park, visitors should expect to come across several bird species, see golden monkeys, occasionally mountain gorillas and passing close to the grave of Dian Fossey – the famous researcher on Mountain gorillas.
The trail and path towards the top of the volcano contain great physical features/landscape, volcanic features, dense forest and vegetation which are beautiful to behold. However, the hike may involve navigating through thick jungle, steep slopes and muddy trails in the rainy season. It’s for this reason that hiking Mount Karisimbi is best done during the drier periods between January – March and July – early October.
You need to be in good shape, have the endurance and stamina which is required to navigate through steep and difficult sections of the mountain slopes. This is especially important if you are hiking in a group – You wouldn’t want to keep your fellow hikers waiting for you. You also need to prepare mentally for the high altitude conditions which can be distressing hence slowing you down. Porters are available for hire at a cost of 20USD. They will help you with extra luggage, tents and other hiking equipment.
Day 1: Kigali to Ruhengeri
The trip starts in Kigali with a city tour and the genocide memorials. In the afternoon, drive for about 2½hour to Ruhengeri town for dinner and overnight.
Day 2: Gorilla tracking in Volcanoes national park
After breakfast, transfer to the park headquarters for briefing by the ranger/guides pertaining to the Gorilla tracking. The well-set lecture will give you great insights. The park rules – Dos and Don’ts will be well communicated. It is at this point we head into the forest in search of the gorillas. You will traverse the bamboo slopes of the Virunga with the ranger guides ahead of you and a porter can be handy.
The tracking may take about 2-7 hours depending on the movement of the gorillas. On finding the gorillas, you will be allowed one (1) hour to watch and photograph. You will exit the park and be driven back to your hotel.
Day 3: Hiking Mt. Karisimbi
It is the 5th highest snow-capped mountain in Africa. Karisimbi in the local dialect means “white shell”, thus its white-capped summit.
After a healthy breakfast, we drive to you will register at the O.R.T.P.N. offices for formalities and registration. A ranger/guide will be allocated after briefings of the hike. The climb takes about 6-7 hours. Dine and overnight camping on the mountain.
Day 4: Ascend the summit – Kigali
Early start ascent to the summit taking about four (4) hours. Celebrate while taking photos, descend to the camp for a hot brunch. Descend further down to the starting point for your transfer back to Kigali. Dinner and overnight in a hotel.
Options are of course many and varied and in many cases, we can be flexible about the itinerary for accommodation facilities and the extension of the safari destinations.