Rwanda has five of those volcanoes and they are known to form the Volcanoes National Park.
Being made of highly steep volcanoes and mountainous forests, the Volcanoes National Park presents incomparable hiking adventures to be able to meet with these incredible Mountain Gorillas and to enjoy the breathtaking views from the summit of the volcanoes.
The five volcanoes found in Rwanda are Muhabura, Gahinga, Sabyinyo, Bisoke, and Karisimbi.
For outdoor fanatics, the Volcanoes National Park’s breathtaking beauty is a must –see. The blossoming green forest, very rare mountain vegetation, crater lakes, abundant wild-life like forest elephants and buffaloes, golden monkeys, and the celebrated mountain gorillas create a magical view for tourists. Undoubtedly, the prevalent birds of the Albertine rift and the spectacular views of Rwanda’s mountainous landscape and extensive volcanoes offer one of the best scenery around the continent.
Hiking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda entirely involves conquering the magnificent summits of its Virunga Volcanoes. The hiking challenge in this park offers incredibly the best experience to enthusiastic hikers on Rwanda safaris.
On the hikers’ way up hills, there are chances to meet with the adapted Mountain Gorillas families. Hikers are allowed to view them for a very small time and they are prohibited from taking any form of pictures or videos to be fair to the people who have bought the gorilla permit. There’s also very high chance to meet Golden Monkeys on the way hiking.
Popular Trails in the Volcanoes National Park
Hiking safaris in Volcanoes National Park are perfect to all enthusiastic nature lovers and day hike involves navigating through the lush forests and varying vegetation zones, scenery viewing, Crater Lakes and more. Some of the volcano mountains allow you to see some wildlife that are endemic to the Albertine rift area and Virunga region including golden monkeys, forest elephants, birds and more.
Hiking in Volcanoes National Park can be conducted on the four of the Virunga Mountain with exception of Sabyinyo which is hiked on Ugandan side. Mt. Sabyinyo has enormous craters and sharp ridges on Rwandan side making it not safe for hikers, except on the Ugandan side. Besides volcano hiking, there are also many other trails to be hiked within Volcanoes National Park.
Mount Karisimbi is one of the tallest mountains in Africa. It is over 4,500 meters high and is found in the Volcanoes National Park. It is listed the 5th highest on African continent. The mountain is the tallest among the eight volcanoes within the wider Virunga ranges of mountains in Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. This volcano experiences some snow during certain months of the year given its strategic location at the Equator. It offers classic hikes taking about two days with the first phase of the trek leading climbers up to 3700 meters elevation. The last trek will be the following day heading to the top to enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding areas and other volcanoes then you descend back to the base of Karisimbi.
Hiking Mount Karisimbi takes two days. Though challenging, the hike rewards participants with beautiful views of the Virunga ranges, the lava-spewing Nyiragongo volcano, national parks in Uganda and Congo. Hiking mount Karisimbi is usually combing with gorilla and golden monkey trekking in the Volcanoes National Park.
The 2 day Mount Karisimbi Hike is a guided two day hike to the 5th highest snow-capped peak in Africa and it’s extremely an amazing journey. On the first day, you get to spend 6 hours hiking and climbing to the 3700m level where you get to spend a night, (camp here and enjoy dinner). On the next day, you proceed to the summit and the scenic wonders that are waiting for you. The descent takes only 6 hours.
Rising high at elevation of 3711m, Bisoke volcano is an active volcano lying along the border with the D.R. Congo. Bisoke volcano hikes offer spectacular views of the Crater Lake at the summit and the surrounding vegetation zones plus other volcanoes like Mikeno in the DR Congo. You will spend about 6 hours to have round hiking adventure on Bisoke volcano. On Bisoke trek, there is a chance to explore Lake Ngezi –the Crater Lake on this volcano.
It takes only one day to get to the summit and back. Getting to the summit rewards hikers with an opportunity to explore a giant crater and also gaze at the other Virunga volcanoes and the volcanoes National Park. If you are lucky, you might encounter a gorilla or golden monkey group as you climb the lower slopes of the mountain.
Twin Lakes Hike
Hiking is not only an upwards activity in the massif. You can choose to hike downwards through the the enormous openings of the Musanze Caves.
Dian Fossey graveyard hike
The Dian Fossey & gorilla graveyard should be a must hike on hiking tour in Volcanoes National Park. Located in the valleys between Mt. Bisoke & Karisimbi, the graveyard is where Dian Fossey and her lovely gorillas were laid to rest. The hike to gorilla graveyard offers insight into Dian’s legacy on gorilla conservation and protection. You need just 3-4 hours to walk to the graveyard and back, which involves navigating via the lush vegetation.
Mount Muhabura is one of the Virunga Massifs shared by Uganda and Rwanda. It stands at an altitude of 4127m and perfect for hikers in need for breathtaking views, especially the Twin Lakes –Ruhondo and Burera. It is 6 to 8 hours round hiking trip to conquer Mount Muhabura.
Gahinga volcano is a magnificent volcano, standing at elevation of 3474m. This is an extinct volcano located on the border between Uganda and Rwanda just between Sabyinyo & Muhabura.
The Ngezi Lake Trail
This is one of the shortest hike with in Volcanoes national park. The Ngezi Lake has got a small scenic, shallow crater lake at the foot of Mount Visoke in Volcanoes National. The hike of 3 to 4 hours round trip, you are accompanied by a park ranger and along the trail; you are able to glance at some monkeys and lots of birds. The surrounding areas around the lake are birding areas and home too many sought after birds including; Grauer’s swamp- warbler. You can also get some scenic views into the DRC and its Virunga Volcanoes National park. The trail offers you a taste of the Virunga Volcanoes foothills including; The Crater Lake, wildlife, scenic views, monkeys and birds.
When is the Best Time to go hiking?
Hiking in Volcanoes National Park can be done during wet/dry season. However, it is more enjoyable to hike through the park during the dry season when there is no much rain and the trails are drier. The dry months of the year to consider when planning your hiking trip in Rwanda; June to August or travel around December, January to February. Heavy rains characterized by slippery grounds/trails are often experienced from March to May/October to November.
What to pack for your hiking trip in Rwanda
The essentials to consider on your hiking adventure in Volcanoes National Park include rain jacket, long pants, hiking boots, sunscreen, trousers, waterproof daypack, camping gear/equipment, camera, long sleeved shirt, first aid kit, bottled drinking water, a sweater, insect repellent and on actual hiking day, carry the walking stick.