In the Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda, there is more than gorilla and golden monkey tracking. The park derives its name from the 5 dormant volcanoes that encompass it. The 5 volcanoes are part of the 8 that make the Virunga Chain of volcanoes and 3 (Gahinga, Muhabura, and Sabinyo) are shared amongst Uganda, Rwanda, and D.R. Congo. The magical forest covering the volcanoes is breathtaking for a visitor experiencing volcano climbing in Rwanda.

Outdoor experience seekers have a lot to engage in while here from caving, forest walks, tracking, but we focus on Volcano climbing in this write-up. If you would like a physical challenge that is off the beaten path, the answer Rwanda has first is to take on one of the Volcanoes here. It is possible to spend a week at Volcanoes National Park if you are an outdoor adventurer without being bored. You can combine a variety of activities with volcano climbing.

Mount Bisoke Climb (3,711m)  

The dormant volcano rises at 3,711m and is at the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. At its peak is a crater lake that measures about 400m in diameter. Mt. Bisoke is almost in the center of the chain of the Virunga volcanoes and after the summit, the trekkers are rewarded with stunning views of D.R. Congo and the rest of the mountains. A round trip can take about 6 hours. Though challenging, even non-experienced hikers can take it on.

Mount Karisimbi Climb (4,507m)

At 4,507m above sea level, Mt Karisimbi is the highest of all the Virunga Mountains and the 11th tallest mountain on the African continent. The round trip hike to the peak is a 2 days adventure through the dense tropical forest and different vegetation zones from bamboo covering the lower slopes, heath, and moorland, to the giant lobelia in the higher zones. The trail goes past Dian Fossey’s tomb.

Trekkers camp at 3,700m where there is a basic mountain camp. From here trekkers wake up early at around 5:30 am and for about 2 hours they push to the summit. On a clear day, the views from the peak are breathtaking. We recommend climbing during the dry season between June and August.

Mt Karisimbi has a lot of history, as it hosted the camp for the former primatologist and gorilla conservationist Dian Fossey.

Mount Muhabura (4,127m)

This marks the border between Uganda and Rwanda. From here one can see 5 other volcanoes in the Virunga ranges. The hike goes past the Burera and Ruhondo twin lakes. It is the second-highest and can be accessed from either side of Uganda or Rwanda and after arriving at the peak it is possible to meet hikers from the Ugandan side. Despite being the second tallest and challenging, it can be undertaken in a single day.

At the top is a beautiful crater lake.

Mt Gahinga (3474m)

The expedition to the peak of Mt. Gahinga is highlighted by a caldera about 180m wide filled with a swamp. The name Gahinga is derived from a Kinyarwanda/Kifumbira word that means a “Pile of Stones”.

The hike takes you through the afro-montane vegetation with its beautiful birds and other species like the primates. The mountain can be accessed from both Rwandan and Ugandan side.

Mt Sabinyo (3669m) is also shared between Uganda and Rwanda, but can only be accessed from the Ugandan side.

What to prepare. 

-Walking/hiking boots, Walking poles, enough drinking water, warm jacket, rainproof jacket, sleeping bag (for the case of Karisimbi mountain), among others.

Age limit: You need to be 15 years and above for these treks.

Rwanda Gorilla trekking