Mount Karisimbi Hike
This dormant volcanic mountain is located in Rwanda in the famous mountain gorilla national park- volcanoes national park along the Rwanda border with Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s the highest in Rwanda, in the Virunga volcanoes and the sixth highest on the African continent at 4,507 meters above sea level. Mount Karisimbi is located in the western arm of the Great Rift Valley with snow at its peak- locally known as ‘amasimbi’ by the Rwandese. The mountain is bordered by mount Nyiragongo in the west, mount Mikeno in the north and mount Bisoke in the east.
The mountain has various vegetation types at different zones starting with the dense equatorial rain forests at its foot hills afro-montane and bamboo vegetation and lastly the snow capped peak. The equatorial rainforests are homes to one of the world’s most endangered species the mountain gorilla that can only be found in only three countries in the world but best viewed in Rwanda in the rainforests along the gentle slopes of mount Karisimbi. All tourists going for the mount Karisimbi hike have very many chances of viewing the mountain gorillas plus other major attractions like primates especially chimpanzees and monkeys, different bird and butterfly species.
Hiking mount Karisimbi is not that simple! It requires some fitness and energy but its hike can be very rewarding with unforgettable tourist experiences. The hiking can be done in 2 days with roughly 6 hours of ascending the first day and 6 hours of descending the second day.
On the day of hiking, tourists are expected to be at the Kinigi headquarters for briefing and then take a 16 kilometers ride from the head quarters to the trail head where the road ends at a car park for tourist going for the hike in about 30 minutes. Porters can be got at this point and if a tourist has some luggage and cant carry it on his own; he can hire one at around $20 per day.
The Hiking Process
The adventurous climb starts at the mountain foot hills around 2,600 meters above sea level very early in the morning. The Dian Fossey research center and grave yard is at around 2,067 meters above sea level and any tourist interested can visit the place at an extra cost. Hiking goes on through the various vegetation layers to the camping site and resting place at about 3,700 meters above sea level. Here hikers have an overnight, relax and prepare for the completion of the volcanic hike the next day. While at this camp, one can clearly view mount Bisoke which is at the same attitude plus the spectacular evergreen rain forests down hill.
The next morning, you will be expected to wake up early enough for break fast and then continue to finish the hike. As you go higher, the temperature becomes a little colder with very steep slopes and reduction in visibility. After a few more hours of the hike, you will reach the Karisimbi summit which is very cold because of the snow and the cold breezes from the forests on the mountain slopes.After reaching the final destination-the summit, you will then embark on your descending journey which also takes about 6 hours including resting at the camp which is at 3,700 meters above sea level until you reach again to the car parking area on the foot hills if the mountain.
All those interested in hiking mount Karisimbi are advised to wear enough warmth clothes especially in the higher altitudes to avoid getting sick. Heavy jackets, sweaters, hats plus many other head wearing gears, hand gloves and water proof pants and coats are highly recommended; this is mainly because the mountain has equatorial rain forests with high evaporation rates and therefore high chances of rainfall even in the dry season. While uphill, one is supposed to strictly follow the guides’ instructions and is not supposed to make a lot of noise or leave his fellow hiking group members because it might be insecure.
Hiking mount Karisimbi can be best done during the dry season with minimal and limited chances of rain fall that can increase the hiking duration. Good hiking shoes and a walking stick are very good option to enable easy movement through the muddy slopes especially after it has rained.
For better safety while on the hike, tourists are expected to make earlier preparations and get all the necessary gears they will need on the hike especially clothes and sleeping bags. Those with health complications can first seek for medical personnel’s opinion of their quest; after being approved,they can then proceed for the hike.
Would you like to climb Mount Karisimbi? Hiking permits are available at $175 including guiding services and the hike takes two days. You can also take this hike after your gorilla safari in Volcanoes National Park. According to the park management, the hike must be booked atleast two weeks before the date you intend to take the hike.