Standing at 4,507metres, Mount Karisimbi is the Virungas highest volcano among the eight volcanoes; located at the border of DR Congo and Rwanda. It is an inactive volcano bordered Eastwards by mount Bisoke, Mikeno to the North and Mount Nyiragongo in the West. It is also regarded as Africa’s 11th highest Mountain.
Its name Karisimbi is derived from the Kinyarwanda word “amasimbi” which means “snow” and this was due because during the dry season especially the months June, July and August snow appears on its top. Between Mounts Karisimbi and Bisoke is a Research Centre called Karisoke which was established by Dian Fossey with the aim of protecting mountain gorillas in this area.
Karisimbi has a crater known as “Mutango” found south of its peak with a diameter of 1170 x945m around 100 cones which spread out towards the shores of Rwanda’s famous Lake Kivu. There is also a caldera on this volcano known as “Branca”, the largest lava flow of Karisimbi is 12km long covering about 23sqkm to the Far East of Karisimbi. The average thickness of the lava is about 40m-60m with the maximum thickness being 140m.
Among the eight volcanoes, Karisimbi is toughest and strenuous volcano to hike, hiking is done Rwanda on this volcano and requires you to be in good health and physically fit. You can hike Karisimbi in a day or two days where all you get is a unique and unforgettable experience.
Hiking starts in the morning at around 7:00am when you report to Kiningi Headquarters for a briefing about the hike, thereafter you take a 40minutes drive to the starting point. You will hike for about 6 to 7hours, as you will walk through the different attractive vegetation zones.
Various attractions are see during the hike such as mountain gorillas, monkeys, and different bird species among others. The trails can be slippery and muddy especially during the rainy season so ensure you have sturdy shoes and walk carefully. When you reach an altitude of 3700m, you can camp over there as you relax waiting for the next day. As you camp, you should set your tent and also prepare enough meals for yourself.
You have to ensure that you wake up at least by 6:00am on the second, have breakfast and continue with the hike to the summit (only 807m are remaining to reach the summit which takes approximately 2 hours). This distance is steeper and hard to hike, at 4000m you start feeling the effect of high altitudes hence you are to move slowly to avoid getting tired and panting.
The most interesting bit is when you arrive at the summit the experience you get is totally rewarding and breathtaking that you immediately forget all the challenges you went through to get to the top.
While at the top; relax enough, enjoy the cool breeze, take as many photographs as you want and also enjoy seeing the stunning and spectacular views of other volcanoes such as Nyiragongo and Muhabura. Descending back to the starting point is a bit easier than ascending and takes you approximately 6 hours.
It is better to hike Karisimbi during the dry seasons which are from June to October and from December to March. You can also hike in other months of the year but expect it to rain any time since Rwanda’s climate is tropical. But also mark that during the rainy season the trails become hard to walk through since they become slippery and muddy
Ensure that you have a hiking gear especially if you on individual travel but if you book your safari with us we take care of everything.
Pack lighter things for the hike; most importantly pack a rain gear, sturdy hiking shoes, warm clothes, comfortable hiking trousers, enough water, layer of socks, gloves, scarf, hat, energy snacks and food, headlamps to be used during the night among others things
In conclusion, you are advised to hire a porter who is paid $20 daily to help you carry the luggage to the summit. On top of this hike you can proceed with Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park, to track gorillas you need to purchase a permit from Rwanda Development Board it costs $1500. You may also visit the grave where Dian Fossey lies; an American zoologist and conservationist, also founder of the Karisoke research center.