The stunning Virunga mountains encompass three countries in East Africa with volcanoes that are located on the borders of Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. In Uganda, the Virunga Mountains cover the western part of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park ‘’where Gold Meets Silver’’, in Rwanda they cover the northwestern part of Volcanoes National Park and in the Democratic Republic of Congo, they cover the Eastern part of Virunga National Park. The word Virunga is derived from the Kinyarwanda dialect ‘’ibirunga’’ which literally means mountains. The Virunga mountains are also called the Virunga Massif. This Virunga Massif has a number of eight Volcanoes that are evenly distributed in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC. These Virunga Mountains are the home of the remaining endangered Mountain Gorillas and Golden Monkeys.
The Virunga mountains are located between the area of Lake Kivu and Lake Edward along the Albertine rift valley and most of these Virunga Massif derive their names from their geographical appearance that is to day Mount Sabinyo ‘’the Old Man’s Teeth’’ derives it from the physical appearance of the mountain which looks like the old man’s tooth
The Virunga mountains include Mount Karisimbi 4,507 m (14,787 ft) which is the highest Mountain, Mikeno 4,437 m (14,557 ft), Mount Muhavura 4,127 m (13,540 ft), Mount Visoke / Mount Bisoke 3,711 m (12,175 ft), Mount Sabinyo 3,669 m (12,037 ft), Mount Gahinga 3,473 m (11,394 ft) , Mount Nyiragongo 3,470 m (11,380 ft), and Nyamuragira 3,058 m (10,033 ft) which is the lowest. All the Virunga Massif have had Volcanic activities over the past years however only Mount Nyiragongo and Mount Nyamulagira are still currently active and are still having Volcanic eruptions with Mount Nyiragongo which last experience a Volcanic eruption in May 2021
The other six Virunga Mountains are considered to be dormant they have not erupted for many years. Among the eight Virunga Mountains, Mount Sabinyo and Mount Mikeno are the oldest Virunga mountains since they are said to have exited back about 2.6 million years ago as their crater lakes have been empty.
There are numerous activities one can encounter in these Virunga Massif that is to say Hiking the Virunga Virunga Mountains, trekking the gentle giants – the Mountain gorillas which are on the slopes of these mountains, Visit the local communities on the slopes such as the Batwa cultural communities where you will get to learn more about culture and engage in their cultural activities such as cultural dances, golden monkey trekking, nature walks in the forests, bird watching and among others.
This is the highest Virunga Volcano among the eight volcanoes making it the 11th highest peak in Africa. The name Karisimbi comes from a Kinyarwanda word ‘amasimbi’ which means snow and thus during the months of June, July and August, the mountain is covered with snow. Mount Karisimbi straddles between the boarders of Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Mount Karisimbi is located near Karisoke research institute which was set up by Dian Fossey for the study about Mount Gorillas. Mount Karisimbi can be hiked all the year around but the best time to hike is during the months June, August as well December which offers you an opportunity to see the snow
Hiking Mount Karisimbi does not need some to be experienced with Hiking mountains. It takes 2 Days to complete hiking mount Karisimbi. That is to say on the first day, you hike up the mountain and set up the camp to stay overnight, on the second day where you hike up to the summit of Mount Karisimbi with clear stunning views of Mount Nyiragongo , Mount Muhabura, and Mount Nyamulagira and then after descending the Mountain. For one to hike Mount Karisimbi is required to get a hiking permit that is valued at $400 per person. This Hiking permit can be acquired on the hiking day however it is advised to book the permit earlier. The packing list for hiking mount Karisimbi includes the following hiking shoes, Sunglasses, Long pants (trousers), hat, stockings, insect repellent, gardening gloves, first aid kit, Tent , walking stick, snacks , Bottled drinking water , warm sweaters, rain jacket and many more
Mount Mikeno is the second highest of the Virunga Mountains standing at a height of 14, 557 feet. The word Mikeno means poor which is derived after its harsh slopes which do not favor human settlement and thus harboring the endangered Mountain gorillas on its slopes. Mount Mikeno is the 13th tallest mountain in Africa which is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo which entirely lies in Virunga National Park. Mount Mikeno can be sighted from Bukima Patrol Post where your informed prior to Gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park.
Mount Mikeno can be hiked all the year around however the best time to hike mount Mikeno is during the dry season January, February and June to September where you can easily see the mountain gorillas on the mountain slopes and the roads are not slippery. Mountain Mikeno is rewarding to the hikers since it is regarded as the toughest to hike o among the eight Virunga volcanoes. The activities to indulge in while on Mountain Mikeno include Gorilla trekking in the forests, Hiking the mountain, guided nature walks, birding watching safaris, viewing beautiful sceneries to mention but a few. While at the Summit of Mount Mikeno, you will be able to view the stunning views of Mount Karisimbi, Mountain Nyiragongo , and Mountain Bisoke. Hiking Mountain Mikeno requires experience and competent hikes. It takes 2 Days which starts from Bukima patrol post, then to Kabara Campsite for the overnight stay. And the Second day is followed by hiking to peak of Mount Mikeno which takes about 4 hours. Later you will descend the mountain.
Mount Muhavura is located between the Uganda border and Rwanda border in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which is well known for being the home of endangered mountain gorillas and other primates such as Golden monkeys. Mount Muhavura is the third highest range among the Virunga mountains which is 13, 540 feet. The word Muhabura / Muhavura is a Kinyarwanda word meaning ‘’sentinel” and its usually shaped delineate is seen in Rwanda and Rukiga language in Uganda, the word Muhabura means “the guide”
On your hike to Mount Muhabura , you will have spectacular views of the Rwanda’s twin lakes that is Lake Ruhondo and lake Burera. And therefore, Mount Muhabura can be hiked from both Uganda and Rwanda. Also Mount Muhabura lets you have mgnificient views of the three countries in the Virunga Massif. The park fees for climbing mount Muhabura is $75 per person inclusive of a ranger. Hiking Mount Muhabura usually takes a full day from both countries about 6 hours depending on the pace of hikers but it also requires them to be physically fit. Hiking Mount Muhavura is a unique exceptional activity that enables tourists to engage in gorilla trekking safaris in the parks of Mgahinga national park and Volcanoes National Park.
Mount Bisoke is also known as Visoke which straddles between the border of Rwanda and Democartic republic of Congo and the summit is found in Rwanda approximately 35 km north east of Goma town which is also adjacent to Lake Kivu. Mountain Bisoke is located between Rwanda Volcanoes National Park and Congolese Virunga National Park with its steep slopes being covered with equatorial rainforests. The name Bisoke is derived from the Swahili word to mean Soaked water.
The Best time to Hike mount Bisoke is during the dry season when is easy unlike the rainy season of September to June which are muddy. Since Mount Bisoke is the easiest to climb other than other Virunga Massif making it the most visited with its trails leading to different destinations that is one to Lake Ngezi and the other to the lake at the summit.
Mount Sabinyo is situated in three countries of Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC. However, this Virunga volcano is best sighted and hiked from the Uganda Side since the Rwanda and Congo side is very steep with sharp ridges.
Sabinyo come from a local word Irinyo to mean tooth this is because the Summit of Mount Sabinyo looks like the worn-out teeth in the gum. The best time to hike Mount Sabinyo is the dry season of December to February and June to September and the hiking fee is $80 per person. Apart from hiking the mountain, trekkers can also engage in thrilling activities such as Gorilla trekking tours, golden monkey trekking, visiting the Garama caves, bird watching safaris, Batwa trail experience etc.
Mount Gahinga is the easiest to climb as compared to Mount Muhabura and Mount Sabinyo. It derives its name from the Kinyarwanda word Gahinga meaning a pile of stones. Mount Gahinga is one of the dormant Virunga volcanoes that stretches between Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo.
During the hike to Mount Gahinga, trekkers will get a chance to engage different primate species such as Mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white colobous monkeys etc. Other wildlife to spot includes Buffaloes, warthogs, hyenas, leopards among others. Plus, a variety of bird species. Mount Gahinga stands at a height of 3,474 m high above the sea level shared between Rwanda in Volcanoes national park and Uganda in Mgahinga gorilla national park
Mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano situated in Virunga National Park in the DRC standing at a height of 11380 feet which is above the sea level and also it is 20km from Goma town and Lake Kivu. The slopes of Mount Nyiragongo are home to a variety of wildlife including bushbuck and chimpanzees. Trekking to the summit of Mount Nyiragongo volcano begins at the Kibati patrol post.
Hiking Mount Nyiragongo takes 2 Days to reach the summit however some hikers recommend 3 days to hike this Virunga Volcano. It is said that Mount Nyiragongo has erupted more than 35 times with the most recent in May 2021. A Permit to hike mount Nyiragongo in Congo costs $326. The packing list for hiking mount Nyiragongo is sleeping bag, Camera , Tourist Visa , enough drinking water, pair of hiking boots , raincoat , insect repellent and among others. The best time to hike mount Nyiragongo is during the dry season which is between June to October and December however it can be visited throughout the year.
Mount Nyamuragira is found only 14 kilometers north west of the world’s active volcano mount Nyiragongo and 25 kilometers west of Lake Kivu, the safeguard fountain of liquid magma is likewise frequently known as Nyamulagila. Mount Nyamuragira gets its name from a neighborhood Kinyarwanda term – the word Kuragira inka to mean ” crowd cows” mount Nyamuragira has Aldo emitted no less than multiple times beginning around 1885, the new emission was on the eighth of November 2011. One of a handful of volcanoes that have preserved magma lakes for a really long time is Mount Nyamuragira. A new magma lake was created between June and August 2014 at a depth of 500 meters, which will continue to develop and shape magma streams in the future.
A hike up Mount Nyamuragira will allow you to see the caldera and a variety of mountains that have formed from the eruptions. However, over time, most of these mountains have disappeared with no apparent cause. In addition to the rewarding attractions and interesting views of Mount Nyiragongo and Mount Mikeno, you will also be able to see many species of wildlife as you begin your hike.
Apart from Nyamuragira and Nyiragongo mountains which are active volcanoes, all of these mountains are excellent for hiking and visitation. Virunga Mountain tours are guided by professional tour guides who will give you a full understanding of the Virunga Mountains.
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