Climbing Mount Karisimbi in Rwanda

Climbing Mount Karisimbi in Rwanda

February 24, 2014

This dome-dormant (Mount Karisimbi) is the highest of the 8 Volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains that are found in Rwanda. The name Karisimbi is in Kinyaruanda language and it means white shell, referring to its often white-capped summit. Surprisingly, this cap does not result from snow but from sleet and hail which continuously accumulate in the higher elevations from its frequent storms. Mount Karisimbi is found within the Parc National Des Volcans. The connection of the various volcanoes by the good trails provides a splendid view to visitors.

Accessing the mountain is fairly steep and a good navigation is required both on the lower and upper slopes. The more you ascend to the mountain, the steeper it gets and one needs to have enough energy to climb. While on the mountain, an aerial view of the jungle is Guaranteed.The Mountain is also close to Dian Fossey’s HQ jungle(a renowned gorilla expert who spent many years in Rwanda).

Mount Karisimbi is at 4,507 meter and it is the 6th highest mountain in Africa, after Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, Mount Rwenzori, Mount Meru and Ras Dashen in Ethiopia. Climbing Mount Karisimbi  in Rwanda requires a well trained guide to lead you through the whole activity .A visitor is also advised to have suitable clothing and equipments. Arrangement for the activity should be at least 2 days in advance to avoid inconveniences. For visitors, the cost is $400 per person inclusive of a guide and an extra fee of $10 for tent hire may be required.

The trail head of this mountain is just 16km from the park office and this is a 30 minutes drive. This is where the climbing starts from. At the trail head, the climbing is at a slower level (about 2,600m above sea level).

At a height of 2,067m above sea level, there stands Dian Fossey Tomb and gorilla graveyards. Here, visitors are required to pay an extra fee in order to visit the tomb. From here, visitors can traverse various vegetation zones, bamboo and wild celery on the lower slopes. The vegetation at this point is so ideal for mountain gorillas. If you continue with the climbing (above 3,700m), you can find a magnificent giant lobelia and giant groundsel. Visitors can decide to camp at a height of 3,700m (a similar altitude to Bisoke which is just behind the camp).Camping at this place enables visitors to relax as they prepare for the next day’s hike.

Wake up early and eat something before continuing with the journey. Climbing at this point becomes steeper, the fog closes in and the ground becomes muddy. Above 4,000m, the tree level is exceeded and it becomes colder compared to the lower levels. Therefore visitors are required to wear their hats and gloves. The climbing continues up to the summit ( near the Congolese boarder). Descending back to the car park takes about 6 hours including breaks at the camp.

What you should know before visiting
• Best months for climbing the mountain – January, February, March, July, August, September and October.
• Volcanic status – Dormant
• Year it was first climbed – 1903
• Longitude – 29.45
• Latitude – -1.5