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Mount Karisimbi Hiking in Rwanda

Mount Karisimbi Hike

Karisimbi volcano also known as the white shell Mountain rises to a level of over 4507 meters. Karisimbi is the highest point in Rwanda, the 6th highest point in Africa and the highest of the Virunga massif.

The trek to the summit of Karisimbi takes two days and it is a real adventure, which involves hiking through different vegetation zones.

To climb Mount Karisimbi, visitors have to head out from their accommodation near volcanoes National Park in Rwanda to meet the guide a the park headquarters at Kinigi.

From here it’s a drive of an hour or so to the start of the trail, at around 2,600m above sea level, where you will join your porters, and begin the trek.

Over the course of the day you will hike through a number of different vegetation zones, starting with the bamboo forest on the lower slopes, where you can visit Dian Fossey’s tomb for an additional fee.

On the higher slopes you will find hagania-hypericum forest, and then higher still the open hillside is dotted with giant lobelia and Senecio. The Virunga Mountains are home to a wide array of wildlife and birds, and keep an eye out for birds as you go.

Your camp for the night will be at 3,700m: a basic mountain camp with small, backpacking-style tents. Here you can enjoy a well-earned rest and a hearty meal before settling into your sleeping bag for the night.

The following morning you will be up early, around 5.30am, in order to make the push for the summit. Although no climbing skills are required, the final ascent is physically demanding as you will be hiking up relatively steep slopes at high altitude.

After around two hours you should reach the top, from where you can peer down in to the steaming crater below. You will be on the edge of the Congolese border, and on a clear day the views from the top are beautiful.

You will be surely overwhelmed by breathtaking panoramas, with Nyiragongo to the west, Bisoke to the east, and Mikeno to the north.

Climbing Mt Karisimbi is highly dependent on weather conditions. It should only be attempted in the dry season, between June and August, and even then it is inadvisable to climb in poor weather.

The two-day climb up Karisimbi costs US$400 per person for groups of two or more, including park fees and a guide.

Age limit is 15 years and maximum number of twelve (12) of Karisimbi hikers is permitted in one group.

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