Hiking to Mount Karisimbi

Hiking to Mount Karisimbi Volcano, All You Need to Know

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.

Mount Karisimbi

The Snow Capped Top of Mount Karisimbi displays an amazing view to explore on a Mount Karisimbi Hike Safari

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.

cultural visits

Rwanda Cultural Safaris

Rwanda Cultural Safaris are so important since people are also significant part of the park like the primates. In case of the best Rwanda cultural tours or the cultural safaris, you can opt to visit any of the cultural centers with in Rwanda, and you can visit one of more like the Iby’iwacu Cultural village and is a non-profit making organisation that helps the reformed poachers.

Rwanda Cultural Safaris, Discover Rwanda’s culture

These help in providing a good life through the activities like providing clean water, the health advisory, they offer Agricultural support as well as providing Education facilities to the kid’s that acquire Education.  There are also many enterprise projects that have been developed to act as a source of income to the families like these do arts as well as craft work, engage in community tourism, do basket weaving and after they sell these to the tourists to take home as token.

There is the famous SACOLA cultural centre who perform very fantastic traditional Intore dance. More so, you can go for the Azizi life experience and a social enterprise that helps the foreigners to get in contact with the local people in order to be able to learn more about the Rwanda’s different cultures and practices.  You will be able to have different ranges of experience and more time you will have to spend in the villages, the more adventure experience you will get and also better understand since you will walk a mile in their shoes.

Some of the activities that you will engage in are the traditional way of house construction, collecting as well as preparing the local meals, preparation of banana juice with the locals, , go for drum making as well as the dancing practices, collecting firewood, digging in the garden and many more. There are also many other activities that you can engage in but depends on how much time you have to spend with theme especially when you are done with your gorilla trekking experience in Rwanda.  The Azizi life experience is also one of the best cultural activity that one can ever opt for while in Rwanda and be very sure to have the most amazing time. From here, you can learn more about the local life as well as the many traditions which is so interesting and also very crucial to the local communities like discouraging the locals from poor activities like poaching.

Bird watching in Rwanda

Bird Watching Tours in Rwanda

Bird watching in Rwanda – best experience

Rwanda isn’t only known for the rare mountain gorilla trekking adventures but also for bird watching experiences. With more than 750 distinct bird species that thrive in various habitats in this spectacular country, bird lovers need to worry as all their travel needs will be covered here.

Bird watching in Rwanda and Uganda is one of the most enjoyed activities one needs to be prepared to stay out for long hours and have some considerable hiking is certain areas. For example while birding in Rwenzori Mountains, Mgahinga gorilla national park, Bwindi Impenetrable national park, Nyungwe national park and Volcanoes national park, there is a considerable amount of hiking up and down the mountainous areas.

Bird watching in Rwanda is an enjoyable activity because of the easy to see the birds and the short distance traveled between the protected areas. Rwanda is home to over 700 bird species, which are scattered between protected areas, swamps, and agricultural lands. Birding has developed in recent times with more and more people picking interest in recent past with increased bird watchers visiting this beautiful country. Most of the birding happens in the 3 protected areas of Akagera national park, Nyungwe national park and Volcanoes national park. More birding is along swamps along the highways and agricultural lands in the villages. For bird lovers, Rwanda is best visited from the month of December to February when most of migrant birds flock into the area especially the wintering and Palearctic migrants.

Bird watching in Rwanda, Where to go birding in Rwanda and Tours

Bird watching in Kigali city

Bird watching in RwandaJust at the entry point to Rwanda through Kigali International Airport, you will be amazed with bird encounters of most bird life. There are many common birding spots in the city for the birders that gives a good introduction to some of the birds in Rwanda. The Nyarutarama Lake also known as Lover’s Lake at the border to Kigali Golf Course offers incredible nature walks and birding encounters. There are many local bird species to be spotted around this place. There is also Nyabarongo wetland which also provides walking trails and best birding site. For visitors within Kigali city, never miss out to spot bird species like the African grey hornbill, African rock pigeon, brown throated wattle eye, cardinal woodpecker and many more.

Bird watching in the  Albertine Eco- region

This albertine region has a chain of mountains that were formed through the uplift as well as volcanic activity. It goes across the western half of Rwanda, and covers five of other countries. The albertine is called the centre of the Afromontane habitant and is also a strap of exceptional flora and fauna endemism. This area consists of mountain ranges which were formed due to up life and volcanic eruptions. It extends across the western half of Rwanda and also occupies about five other states. The Albertine comprise of more than 40 birdlife, 34 mammals, 117 butterflies, 34 amphibians and 16 reptiles.

Bird Watching in Volcanoes National Park

While this park is best known for mountain gorilla tracking, bird enthusiasts are never left out. The park comes along with the might Virunga Massifs of Mount Muhavura, Sabinyo, Karisimbi, Bisoke and Gahinga. Besides its famous apes-the golden monkeys and mountain gorillas, over 200 species of birds thrive within the park, 17 of them are endemic to the area. The notable bird species to spot out in this park include the dusky fly catcher, Chubb’s Cisticola, dusky fly catcher, red billed fir finch, cinnamon chested bee eater and many more. It is must visit for bird watching to catch the rare species and also enjoy the breathtaking Virunga scenery and a chance to encounter the Gorillas.

Bird watching in Nyungwe Forest National Park

Bird watching in RwandaDescribed by Birdlife International as “the most important site for biodiversity conservation in Rwanda,” the Nyungwe National Park is home to roughly 310 bird species, 27 of which are endemic to the Albertine Rift. Although actually spotting birds in the park’s forests may be challenging, the bird songs you’ll hear during the trek will surely make it more enjoyable. Nyungwe forest is a tropical mountain rain forest that lies on the south western slopes of the highland region that also forms a diverse Congo and Nile drainage system. Some of the species include; the red collared babbler, Regal sunbird, Rwenzori Batis, Spurfowl, Grauer’s swamp, the Blue headed sun bird, and the Albertine Owlet.

Bird Watching in Akagera National Park

Bird watching in RwandaThis park is one of the magnificent savanna grassland protected areas in East Africa. This park has got a mixture of rolling grassland scattered with broad leafed and the acacia woodland, these lower lying lands are divided by the Akagera River. There are 525 bird species and these include; Sousa’s shrike, the white collared Oliverback and the Red faced Barbet. This park has a mosaic of the wetlands and the lakes and these are along the course of the Akagera River and the eastern boundary. Some species in the wetland are Papyrus Canary, the shoebill, Papyrus Gonolex and the Carruther’s Cisticole.

Bird watching in Marshes and the Wetlands

About 10 percent of Rwanda is covered by wetlands and marshes and refuges Akanyaru, Rugezi and Nyabarongo wetlands which offer refuge to most of waders and aquatic birds.
A. Rugezi Swamps: Tucked away in a flooded valley near Gicumbi and the Ugandan border, the 100 sqkm Rugezi Swamp is, despite being recognized as both a Ramsar Wetland and Important Bird Area, very rarely visited by tourists, and the reed-and-papyrus marshes here are home to some 43 different bird species, including several endemic to the Albertine rift mountains, such as the endangered Grauer’s Swamp-warbler.
B. Akanyaru Wetlands: Covering 300 sqkm over a narrow, 80 km-long band along the course of the Akanyaru River, the Akanyaru Wetlands start off in the south straddling the Rwanda – Burundi border, and wind their way north to the village of Ntarama, where the sluggish Akanyaru joins the much larger Nyabarongo River. Though they’re probably less-visited than any other birding site in the country, the papyrus-dominated swamps here have been recognized as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International and are home to more than 54 species, including the vulnerable Papyrus Yellow Warbler and Papyrus Gonolek, along with examples of Great snipe, Pallid harrier, and the Malagasy pond heron

Rwanda features many spots where visitors can go for bird watching and this makes Rwanda one of the top bird watching destinations in Africa. With variety of incredible birding sites, we believe that you will have a chance to make your dreams come true while on safari in Rwanda with Karisimbi Safaris. Each of the destinations listed above features distinct bird species as well as other incredible attractions that are worth exploring.

Game Drives

Game Drives in Rwanda

Game driving Safaris in Rwanda

Game drives are a highlight of your visit to the Savannah national parks while on your wildlife safaris in Rwanda. Game drives in Rwanda can also be incorporated in your other Uganda and Rwanda safaris like the gorilla trekking, birding safari and cultural safari itineraries by adding extra days to a Savannah national park. They provide the best way to explore the numerous national parks in the custom-made safari vehicles i.e. Safari vans, Land cruisers and the larger coaster buses which are comfortable enough while on safari. In Rwanda, games drives are only done in Akagera National Park which has opportunities of sighting the different animals while in the comfort of the safari cars.

Rwanda is mostly associated with the Mountainous landscape that sprawls from the central to the western and northern parts of the country. However the eastern region breaks this monotony with grassland plains, swamps and lakes, containing Akagera National Park. Game drives through park offer sightings of game such Elephants, Giraffes, Buffaloes, Zebra and a variety of antelope species. There are cats such as Leopards, Jackals, and Spotted Hyenas but these are very elusive.

Akagera National Park  the prime destination for game drives is located in eastern Rwanda with great views of the plains and animal sightings. It hosts the entirety of Lake Ihema within its borders. The park is home to about 500 bird species and several mammals with the notable ones being Lions (recently re-introduced), Giraffes, Elephants, Bushbucks, Buffaloes and many more. The game drives happen in the northern part of the park but note that the park entrance is in the south.

Amazing Game Drive Safaris in Akagera NP

Animals in Akagera national park

Akagera national park is home to a variety of wildlife which include, elephants, buffalos, giraffe, zebras, leopards, hyenas, lions. It is home to several antelopes like bushbucks, Topis, Oribis, water-buck, roan antelope and duiker, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, impala and world largest antelope – the Cape eland. You can watch schools of hippos and crocodiles basking in the sun near lake Ihema. The common primates in Akagera national park are olive baboons, Vervet monkeys, blue monkeys and bush babies who are often seen on night drives.

Game drives in Akagera National Park

Game drives in Akagera national park are done in safari vehicles starting early morning in search of the leopards, hyenas, and the recently re-introduced lions. This is because the predators prefer to hunt at night or early morning and usually go into hiding as the heat from the sun increases. Along the carnivores, enjoy the scenery of this beautiful park and several other big mammals like Elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, Zebra and Giraffes. The landscape and beautiful wild flowered will make for good pictures for the interested photographer. Experience a classic African Safari in beautiful Akagera National Park. With Lake Ihema in the background and cooler temperatures, this is a safari experience unlike any of Rwanda’s neighbors.

Game Drives in Rwanda Guide

Karisimbi Safaris is your ultimate choice with a tailor-made game drives in Rwanda for you and providing you with a 4WD safari landcruiser and a wonderfully personable driver, whom you’ll appreciated for his knowledge of all-things-Rwanda and, especially, his flawless local tales collection, which will have smiling alone for days. The company can also arrange extended experiences in Rwanda and Uganda after your Rwanda game drive safari.

Other Activities on a game driving tour in Rwanda

Other activities include an afternoon boat safari on Lake Ihema to sight some aquatic wildlife, and game that come to drink along the shores. Hippos and Crocodiles are a common sight in the lake. Birdlife in the park is very impressive with more than 525 species recorded in the park.

Recreational fishing is available on the shores of Lake Shakani. Main fish caught is catfish and tilapia and you have the option to retain your catch or release back into the water.

Contact Us today for a free quote on game drive safari in Rwanda!

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Volcanoes National Park

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking In Uganda And Rwanda

Gorilla trekking is one of the most famous safari activities in Uganda and Rwanda. The population of mountain gorillas is less than 900 individuals according to the last census conducted in Bwindi impenetrable national park, Mgahinga gorilla national park, Volcanoes national park and Virunga national park. It has been observed that the population of mountain gorillas has increased thanks to the conservation efforts of various non governmental and government support. These areas are safe for tourists and gorillas alike with minimal or no poaching incidences reported because of alternative sources of incomes available to communities in the area due to increase revenues from gorilla tourism.

The mountain gorillas are often found in the undergrowth feeding on the vegetation as they rest and or groom each other. The leader of each gorilla family or group is a silver-back which is very protective of the family, if frustrated it will grunt and beat its chest before moving off with the females, offspring and mature males.

To enjoy the experience of gorilla trekking, you need to prepare adequately starting with choice of tour operator to plan the entire safari, lodges and purchase of gorilla permits. The minimum age for trekking gorillas is 15 years. You require to purchase your permit much earlier especially if you want a specific date because only 8 people can trek a gorilla family per day.

In Rwanda, gorilla trekking happens in Volcanoes national park. The park has great scenery of the volcanoes and great sightings of the mountain gorillas for all those seeking to trek these great Apes in this area. This is the setting for the famous ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ a movie about Dian Fossey’s work in conservation of gorillas.  Rwanda has 10 families available for gorilla trekking after you purchase your permit from RDB through a tour operator.

Nature walks Rwanda

Guided Nature walks in Rwanda

The Forest walk or the community Guided Nature walks

Nature walks Rwanda bring you close to nature. These nature walk trails are found in the national parks or associated community protected areas. There are several nature trails outside the protected areas in private and community lands and forest that are not included here but depending on your interests would be included in your itinerary. Do not hesitant to request for more information concerning an area you are interested in exploring.

Taking a forest walk or a guided walk is also an amazing way that you can get to see the different attractions that live in and around the Volcanoes National Park. In your group with your ranger, you will walk deep into the forest and spend some good time searching for the species that might interest you like the tree species, vegetation as well as the wildlife that live in the jungle. You will also expect to view many other primates other than the gorillas , you will see some monkey species and the most interesting ate the golden monkeys which will give you a completely different experience that is compared to gorilla trekking.

Nyungwe national park’s extensive network of hiking trails and steep landscape makes it a perfect destination for hikers. The trails through diverse landscape present the most scenic way of exploring the forest. They include Congo – Nile Divide trail, Igishigishigi trail/Canopy Walk, Karamba trail, Umugote trail, Umoyove trail, Uwinka trail, Irebero trailImbaraga trail, Bigugu trailIsumo trail, Kamiranzovu trail, Muzimu trail, Ngabwe trail, and Rukuzi trail.

Volcanoes national park offers a walking trail to the Dian Fossey tomb, which gives insight in the life of Dian and gorilla conservation and gorilla graveyard with about 20 gorillas buried here, killed either by poachers or by natural causes. You are likely to sight or here sounds of forest elephants, buffalos, forest hogs and several primates and bird species.

Why Nature walks Rwanda?

The nature walks are also so good for bird watching. Bird watching needs that low movement so that you can spot even the few bird species that hide in the tree branches and you will miss viewing them during the primate watching trek. You can also take photos of the wildlife, vegetation cover and lots of many other attractions.

What to carry and wear for a guided nature walk

The forest walk needs the same preparation as the primate walking experience and these include;

  • The Hiking boots are also the best shoes since the jungle is wet much of the time and muddy plus being slippery. The simple shoes will make your movement a bit tough.
  • Trousers and they should be long sleeved since these will protect you from being disturbed by the thorns and the broken tree branches that can cause bleeding. There are also some risky plants including the stinging nettle and these might cause discomfort when they touch the skin.
  • Remember to carry drinking water since you will need it. You can also carry packed food in you are to stay out for long hours. But also remember to keep the bottles and the rubbish with you since littering is not allowed. You have to follow the guider’s rules and regulations in order to have a wonderful nature walk.

The other places that you can visit also include; Dian Fossey tomb hike, the Karisoke Research centre at the Karisoke , which is also a place between Karisimbi and Visoke thus the name Karisoke. She was a primatologist and an anthropologist that spent a lot of time in ensuring the conservation of mountain gorillas. Her anti-poaching war also led to arrest of many and it’s the main reason why she was killed in December 27th / 1985 and was found in her tent lying in the pool of blood. She was later put to rest in Karisoke with in the grave yard, close to many gorillas that were killed by the poachers. This Dian fossey hike is an amazing mixture of intelligent, emotional, physical experience for the tourists since it’s so inspiring to get to learn about her as well as her work towards saving the mountain gorillas.

When carrying out the hike, you will move through the thick volcanoes national park jungle and you need to be physically fit and patient. This tour also starts in the morning and this means that the driver will drive you from the head quarter to where the trail starts. The ranger will take you to begin your walk along the fairly steep slopes to the research centre where you will find Dian Fossey ‘s grave  and this walk will take 2 or  and half hours. You will get chance to enjoy the scenery and the hike with variety of different primates, birds and many more.

This hike is also considered as an act of credit to her for all the nice work that she did during her whole stay in Rwanda. All her efforts towards gorilla was the reason why mountain gorillas can also be found in Volcanoes National can also visit this tomb after trekking the mountain gorillas in the volcanoes.