Hiking to the top of Mount Karisimbi is one of the key tourism activities you should not miss on your Rwanda safari to Volcanoes National Park. Mount Karisimbi, 4506m, is found in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, and lies on the border with the Democratic Republic Congo. Karisimbi is the highest of the volcanoes that form the magnificent Virunga Mountain range, and it is the fifth highest mountain in Africa. The name “Karisimbi” in Kinyarwanda means “white shell”, referring to the snow on the summit of the volcano which is seen during the months of June, July and August. This strategically located mountain is situated in Volcanoes national park, popularly known for the mountain gorillas and is flanked by Mikeno to the north, Bisoke to the east and Nyiragongo to the west, on the other side of the Rift Valley.
Hiking Mount Karisimbi involves a 2 day hike which sets off at 7am, with the meeting of the ranger guides at the park headquarters at Kinigi, thereafter driving for approximately forty five minutes to the starting point of the trek in the park and up the mountain. After 6 hours trek you will set up camp at 3700 for the overnight. The following day you hike up to the summit before embarking on the return trek back to the starting point and end of the Mt. Karisimbi Hike.
Requirements for Mount Karisimbi Hike (What to Carry)
When you are planning to hike, do not forget the following; First and foremost you will need a hiking permit which can be acquired from the Park Headquarters at least two days prior to the actual activity. The permit is priced at $400 and this cost includes the guide (without porters).
Have a rain proof hiking boots and walking stick which will support you especially during raining seasons when the surfaces are muddy and slippery.
You need relatively good health and stamina to hike through the slippery slopes to reach the summit which is white capped as a result of hail and sleet which accumulate in the higher elevations from its frequent storms. This implies that one may have to incur an extra cost of hiring a porter ($20 per day) to help in carrying your luggage and hiking equipment. Carry with you a tent that will be used during camping since the hike is for two days and hence you will need to camp on your way up the summit. If you don’t have the tent, you can hire from the park office at $10.
What Else Should I carry for the Mount Karisimbi Hike?
Hand gloves and hats are also required to provide you with warmth.
Carry food that you will need to prepare during your overnight camping. Also you will need to be of good health and with a good stamina to be able to endure the slippery and muddy trails as you climb and descend the mountain.
Due to the coldness you are likely to experience in the night, you will need a sleeping bag for your outdoor sleep (camping) and some warm clothes preferably heavy for covering yourself because the coldness becomes unbearable at night.
When Should I go for Mount Karisimbi Hike?
The best months for climbing mount Karisimbi is from January to March and July to October, the mountain girth dominates the range more than in height. The research that was carried out shows that the volcano is very young dating from 0.24 ma to 0.010 ma.
Tourists can make their safari more memorable by going for gorilla trekking at Volcanoes national park before or after hiking, this park is renowned for its famous mountain gorilla but all in all there are higher chances of viewing gorilla while on a hiking safari with lots of other primates mostly monkeys.
What Else Can I do apart from Hiking to Mount Karisimbi?
Apart from enjoying the hiking experience, tourists who are botanists can see various plant species at mount Karisimbi. In honor of the great American zoologist Dian Fossey, tourists can visit the Karisoke research center where the grave of this gorilla conservationist is found.
Mount Karisimbi is also endowed with over 170 species of birds that will welcome you with chattering from the slopes to the summit, when climbing mount Karisimbi expect to come along muddy places and tourists hiking this peak should be for and experienced hikers as it gets so muddy sometimes.
When descending mount Karisimbi after trekking tourists who would love to spend a night at Volcanoes national park because of late afternoon arrival and tiredness can lodge in any of the accommodation units some of the lodges within the park are; Kanigi guest house, villa gorilla, La Palme hotel, Garr hotel and virunga lodge to mention a few.
Mount Karisimbi is also close to the Karisoke research center where the grave of the re-known mountain gorilla conservationist and American zoologist; Dian Fossey lies. This means that one has a chance to visit the grave as well as trek the golden monkeys in addition to the Mountain gorillas.
Mount Karisimbi can be accessed from either Rwanda or Congo as it’s located at the border of the two countries.