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The spectacular chain of Virunga mountains in western Rwanda is home to Mount Karisimbi, a dormant volcano that towers over the surrounding lands at 4,507m tall. It is in fact the highest of the eight major mountains in the mountain range, and the fifth highest mountain in all of Africa. Its name may mean “little white shell” in Kinyarwanda thanks to its often white-capped summit, but spend the two days it takes to climb to Karisimbi’s sharp-peaked summit and you will realize there is nothing little about this volcano.
Starting from your base at Bisoke, you will begin the arduous two-day climb through dense rainforest up the sides of Karisimbi. Along the way you may witness emissions of smoke and steam from the volca-noes that flank its sides, including the deadly Mt. Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After trekking six hours on the first day, spend the night camping in a tent on the mountain at a breathtaking altitude of 3,700m, and witness an explosion of stars in the clear African skies. A further four-hour trek the second day will take you to the summit, where you can stop to take in the view of the volcanoes, the calm lakes, the dense forests and all the other majestic sights of the land. You will witness the diverse and striking landscape of Rwanda from the highest point in the country.
The climb up Karisimbi is a demanding one that will test your physical fitness, but the rewards are well worth it.The cost of a Karisimbi hiking permit (which includes a guide): $ 400/ person and $300/person when in a group.