Hundreds of thousands of years ago, volcanic activity that happened in the Eastern part of Africa yielded an array of breathtaking features that include calderas, volcanic mountains, craters and crater lakes, lava tubes. Some became dormant and others are active like the Nyiragongo volcano in D.R. Congo and adventure seekers can see them up close. In East Africa, the Virunga chain of Volcanoes that stretches from D.R. Congo through Rwanda extends to Uganda in southwest where 3 of the 8 volcanoes namely Muhabura, Gahinga, and Sabinyo form Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Travelers challenge themselves by engaging in Volcano Climbing in Mgahinga.

All the three dormant volcanoes can be summited each taking a full day and each is unique in its own way. UWA rangers and guides lead climbers and those who need the help of porters to carry their backpacks or give them a pull or push as they climb they can get one. Below are the details of the 3 musketeers.

Mt. Muhabura

This is the highest of the three and it kisses the clouds at 4127m. It is about 8-10hrs trip to ascend and descend the mountain and a distance of about 12km altogether. Muhabura is shared by Uganda and Rwanda and usually hikers from different sides meet at the summit where it has a crater lake and great views of Rwanda. On a clear day when it is not fogy, it rewards climbers with views of Rwenzori Mountains, Bwindi Impenetrable national park, Lake Edward, and other Virunga volcanoes. Muhabura is Bafumbira dialect work meaning “the guide” and standing tall makes it a lead to the rest of the mountains at the park.

Mt. Gahinga

A six hour to and from trek to 3474m guarantees hikers sight of a swamp that filled a crater and the giant lobelia plants. This route usually taken by most because it is short and some lucky climbers usually meet golden monkeys along the way as they walk through the bamboo section. Gahinga literally translates to “a pile of stones”.

Mt. Sabinyo

A round trip to Sabinyo is about 14km round trip. The mountain has 3 peaks and the route to last peak is along the steep ridge that looks into the Sabinyo gorge. The mountain is the most strenuous of all the three. Its third peak is at 3669m and it is shared by Uganda, Rwanda, and D. R. Congo. After summiting the peak one can be in 3 countries because about a meter walk takes you to another country.

Volcano hiking costs 80USD and can be done all year round however the drier months make climbing easy and the rainy season the trails are always boggy but a better experience. You just have to carry waterproof hiking shoes, packed lunch, rain jacket, enough drinking water, energy giving snacks like chocolates, and a walking stick.

A 5 days trip to the park can exhaust all the activities from climbing, visiting the Batwa, gorilla and golden monkey tracking, and birding.