Mount Sabinyo

Mount Sabinyo is an extinct volcano in the Virunga Mountains. Mount Karisimbi, Muhabura, Bisoke, Mikeno, Nyiragongo, Gahinga, and Nyamuragira are also part of the Virunga ranges. Mount Sabinyo is separated from its nearest neighbor Muhabura by a 20-meter-diameter crater lake. Sabinyo translates as “Old man’s tooth” in the local language. This is because its jagged summit resembles worn-out teeth when compared to the more leveled summits of neighboring mountains.

Mount Sabyinyo stands 12,037 feet tall and serves as a boundary/border for three countries: Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The mountain slopes are home to endangered mountain gorillas and other animals such as elephants, buffaloes, and various forest antelopes. Mount Sabinyo is one of the most difficult hikes in the Virunga Ranges of mountains. It has many ridges due to its rugged slopes and craters on the sides.

Hiking Mount Sabinyo is currently only possible from Uganda due to the lack of a route through the sharp ridges on the Congo and Rwanda sides. The Rwandan government intends to carve a path through the craters and ridges so that tourists can begin their adventure in Rwanda. We have an article about Mount Kilimanjaro that you might be interested in reading.

Hiking Mount Sabinyo from the Uganda side

Garama Caves in Mgahinga National Park

Mount Sabinyo is located in Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Climbing Mount Sabyinyo is one of Uganda’s best mountain climbing experiences. Despite the sharp ridges and crater lakes before the final peak, the Uganda Wildlife Authority solved the problem by handcrafting ladders.

Before beginning the hike, visitors must register at the park office, sign the guest book, and make any necessary payments. The hike up Mount Sabinyo begins with a briefing. The Guide and Rangers will explain what to expect, the history of the mountain, and what to bring with you. If you do not reach the summit by 3 p.m., you should return because it will be too late to complete the activity on time. Every hiker is given a walking stick; treat it like gold. Porters can be hired for those with heavy equipment such as cameras.

At least three locals will accompany you. Aside from the official Guide, an armed ranger is always present to scare away large mammals such as elephants that graze on the mountain’s slopes.

Following the briefing, you will begin by passing through a flat area with several swamps. For the next 2390 to 2800 meters, you begin ascending to an area with dense vegetation zones. This area, which is mostly bamboo, is a favorite of golden monkeys. Aside from monkeys, you might see mountain gorillas, elephants, and buffaloes in this area.

After the first zone, you’ll come across sub-alpine vegetation with fewer trees but home to the endangered Rwenzori Turaco. The Rwenzori Turaco is a beautiful bird that is popular among birders. It can only be found in the Albertine rift zone. By the time you finish this zone, you will be able to see the summit ahead.

The beauty of climbing Mount Sabinyo is that you get to visit three countries (Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo) while enjoying some of the best views you’ll ever see – weather permitting. The beautiful Lake Kivu in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo can be seen from the summit. Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda, the Rwenzori mountain ranges in Uganda, over six mountains in the Virunga region, and numerous other features are also visible.

Human settlements can also be seen among the lush green plantations and forests. Congo appears to be deserted, whereas Rwanda appears to be more densely populated. Descending is easier but also more difficult. You must deal with ladders once more, and you must do so with caution, especially if the weather is bad.

What to know before embarking on a hike to Mount Sabinyo

  • Mount Sabinyo climbing permits cost $85 per person. This includes guide/ranger fees as well as park admission. Permits are available from the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Kisoro or from your tour operator. You can book the hike a day or two in advance, but it is always better to book ahead of time. Because the Uganda Wildlife Authority usually assigns a guide a day before the hike, showing up on the day of the hike without prior booking is not advised.
  • To get to Mgahinga Park from Kampala, plan on an 8-hour drive to Kisoro town, followed by a 14-kilometer drive to the park headquarters. A public bus can be obtained from Kampala’s main bus station. From Kisoro town, take a Boda Boda (motorcycle taxi) for around 20,000 Uganda Shillings or pay $35 to be picked up by a vehicle from the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices. Mgahinga National Park can also be reached by road from Kigali, Rwanda, for a much shorter journey. Those who find the road trip too long can take a chartered flight from Entebbe in Uganda or Kajjansi to Kinigi in Bwindi, then drive to Mgahinga.
  • The dry season is the best time to hike Mount Sabinyo. The trail can become muddy and slippery during the rainy season. Visibility may also be reduced, making the ladders dangerous.
  • Three peaks are visited while hiking Mount Sabinyo. At peak three, you can stand in three countries at once. In between the beaks are extensive ladders that were improvised to help hikers navigate difficult mountain terrain.
  • Climbing to the top takes four hours, and descending takes four hours as well. As you ascend the mountain, you have a good chance of seeing several birds, including the rare Rwenzori turaco.
  • Unfortunately, clear visibility at the summit of mount Sabinyo may not be possible during certain months or days of the year because of the clouds (mist).
  • The dry season is the best time to hike Mount Sabinyo. The trail can become muddy and slippery during the rainy season. Visibility may also be reduced, making the ladders dangerous.
  • Three peaks are visited while hiking Mount Sabinyo. At peak three, you can stand in three countries at once. In between the beaks are extensive ladders that were improvised to help hikers navigate difficult mountain terrain.
  • Climbing to the top takes four hours, and descending takes four hours as well. As you ascend the mountain, you have a good chance of seeing several birds, including the rare Rwenzori turaco.

What to pack for a hike to Mount Sabinyo

Clothing and Boots: To have the best hiking experience possible, you must be properly dressed. For the cold summit, dress in a light raincoat, warm stockings, and hand gloves. To keep crawling insects at bay, wear a long-sleeved shirt and trousers. Hiking Boots should be tough and have good traction and grip.

Bring a packed lunch or snack: This is essential because the hike lasts all day. While hiking the mountain, you will become extremely hungry. You should also bring at least 2 liters of drinking water with you to quench your thirst.

Binoculars and a camera: A good camera is essential for photographing the mountain and your time at the summit. A binocular is good for spotting distant volcanoes and beautiful views. Porters are available for hire to carry any heavy equipment.

First Aid Kit and Toiletries: If possible, carry a portable first aid kit in case of minor scratches or pains in the knee joints. Try to visit the toilet before embarking on the hike. Move with toilet paper in case of any emergencies.

Activities to do after the Mount Sabinyo hike

Mount Sabinyo is located in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. This is Uganda’s smallest national park, but it offers incredible activities to visitors. After climbing the mountain and resting sufficiently, one may choose to do any of these:

Gorilla Trekking Vs Gorilla Habituation

Gorilla Trekking

The most popular activity in Mgahinga National Park is gorilla trekking. Mgahinga has only one habituated gorilla family, but it is one of the most interesting. The group arguably has the most silverbacks in Uganda and beyond. Mgahinga gorilla trekking is also appealing. After all, it offers more piracy because it is less crowded with tourists than Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

 

 

Golden monkey trekking

Golden monkeys, like the mountain itself, are only found in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These adorable monkeys are endangered and popular among tourists and primate enthusiasts. They are extremely playful, with only the African eagle and humans as threats.

 

 

 

Wildlife viewing

As you climb the mountain, you may spot some of Africa’s famous mammals such as buffaloes, elephants, and antelopes. After the hike, a more comprehensive wildlife encounter can be arranged at the national park, where you can also see leopards, forest hogs, and smaller primates such as baboons, Vervet, and Colobus monkeys.

 

 

 

Birding:

Mgahinga National Park is home to over 300 different bird species. The Ruwenzori Turaco, grey crowned cranes, Ruwenzori double-collared sunbird, and double-toothed barbet are the most sought-after species.

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