Volcano climbing is the second most popular adventure activity to do within the Virunga Region. The eight volcanoes within the Virunga offer an amazing opportunity for those interested in mountain hiking. Please note that for all hikes are guided and hiring a park guide is mandatory. There are several trails that have been developed and most trails end with an ascent to the peak. Rwanda is the most popular destination for hiking and there are various trails that have been developed in the volcanoes within the park.
- Karisimbi Mountain Hiking (Rwanda)
- Bisoke Hiking (Rwanda)
- Nyiragongo Hike (Congo)
Trails in Virunga Parks
From Volcano National Park:
– Karisimbi (4,507 m) – This hike takes 2 days and it starts from the Visoke departure point. The Volcanoes National Park authority require bookings to be made atleas 2 weeks before the actual hiking date. Please note that you will spend a night at a metal hut lieing about 3,660 meters. It can be very cold at night and therefore come with clothes that can keep you warm.
– Bisoke (3,711 m) – This is the second most popular hike in PNV. This volcano has a huge crater lake. The crater can be reached from the Visoke departure point in 4 hours. Hikes are possible from the Volcanoes National Park daily. The hike requires climbing along a steep path. The walk around the crater is highly recommended, the total hike will take 7 to 8 hours.
– Lake Ngezi (3,000 m) is a small shallow crater lake. The hike is the easiest of the entire area. From the departure point, the hike takes about 3 to 4 hours to walk there and back.
– Sabyinyo (3,634 m) – This is the most difficult climb. A hike takes about 5 to 6 hours up to the edge of the crater. The departure is from the main office of the park at Kinigi. You can spend the night in a metal hut near the lava fields.
Hiking in Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park isn’t only famous for mountain gorilla trekking but also for thrilling volcano hiking adventures in Mount Bisoke and Karisimbi. However, you can incorporate both activities and you will have a memorable experience. The famous volcanoes for you to hike through while on safari in Volcanoes National Park include;
– Karisimbi (4,507 m) sometimes has a snow-covered top. You need two days from Visoke departure point. You can spend the night in a metal hut at 3,660 meters. Attention: it can be very cold here at night.
– Visoke (3,711 m) has a huge crater lake. The crater can be reached from the Visoke departure point in 4 hours, by way of a steep path. The walk around the crater is highly recommended, the total hike will take 7 to 8 hours.
– Lake Ngezi (3,000 m) is a small shallow crater lake. The hike is the easiest of the entire area. From the Visoke departure point it will take 3 to 4 hours to walk there and back.
– Sabyinyo (3,634 m) is a difficult climb of 5 to 6 hours up to the edge of the crater. The departure is from the main office of the park at Kinigi. You can spend the night in a metal hut near the lava fields.
This straddles at 4507 meters making it the highest of all the Virunga Massifs. Climbing to the summit of this remarkable volcano is a great of adventure of its own. It offers hikers a great opportunity to explore the hidden treasures of Volcanoes National Park. Given its steep heights, you may have to spend a night on the top which also makes yet another exceptional experience. Due to its high altitudinal range, visitors get the best views of the vegetation covers which ranges from the bamboo, hagenia forest to sub-alpine and afro-alpine which is dominated by moss and heather. Given the conditions at this mountain, you need good and warm clothing plus good camping gear.
This is remarkably one of the best volcanoes which are ideal for hiking experiences. It stands at altitude of 3711 meters and on its summit, there is an outstanding crater lake. The hikes to this volcano are the same with those that take hikers to the Dian Fossey tomb site at Bisate and one can take the same route up to the grave site. From here, the rim is about two kilometers although hikers have to be ready to overcome the strenuous steep slopes.
Other incredible areas to hike through in Rwanda Volcanoes national park include the Dian Fossey tomb site. This is one of the most famous hikes which takes you via the gorilla cemetery at the former Karisoke research camp. The hikes usually begin from Volcanoes National Park headquarters to the trailhead at Bisate village just near the forest border area and you drive for about half an hour. Dian Fossey was a popular primatologist who tireless worked to safe guard the critically endangered mountain gorillas from extinction. She conducted research on these Great Apes for more than 18 years and helped the world to know the plight of these rare creatures. Today, the world boasts of about 1004 individuals of these unique creatures.
Hiking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
There are two popular hikes in Mgahinga National Park;
– Gahinga (3,474 m) – This hike starts from Gasiza. The path leads to a run-down cabin between the Gahinga and Muhabura mountains and takes about 4 hours to reach the peak.
– Muhabura (4,127 m) – The hike starts from Gasiza and take two days.
– Gahinga (3,474 m) and Muhabura (4,127 m) can both be reached from Gasiza. The path leads to a run-down cabin between the two mountains. The Gahinga top can be reached in 4 hours, but the hike to Muhabura will take two days.
Virunga National Park
– The Nyiragongo volcano (3,465 m) is extraordinary; in the 250 meter deep crater, you can see lava churning continuously. This volcano erupted in 2002 and destroyed the village of Goma. It is recommended to climb this volcano with certified guides only. As this is still a very active volcano, it is sensible to check its status in advance.
Virunga National Park:
– The Nyiragongo volcano (3,465 m) – The Nyiragongo Hike is the most popular and it is indeed extraordinary to reach the 250 meter deep crater. Remember this is an active volcano and you can see lava churning continuously. The Nyiragongo volcano last erupted in 2002 and lava flowed over the village of Goma. It is recommended to climb this volcano with certified guides only.
After gorilla tracking, volcano climbing is the most popular activity to do here. Hiring a park guide is mandatory if you want to hit the trail. Bearers are optional, but can be very useful for those who set out on a longer journey. There are various trails at Volcano National Park to either the crater, or in case of extinguished volcanoes, to the top. Inquire locally about the condition of the trails. The views from the mountains are spectacular.