Aside from trekking mountain gorillas, Volcanoes National Park offers unforgettable volcano hiking adventures. The park sits in the Virunga Region, and has 5 volcanoes including Muhabura Volcano, Mt. Sabyinyo, Gahinga, Bisoke and Karisimbi Volcanoes. Most of these Virunga Volcanoes are hiked making Volcanoes Park Rwanda one must-visit destination for thrilling hiking adventures.
Several hiking trails have been developed, they will lead outdoor enthusiasts to the summits of most volcanoes, as well as to other points of interests in the park.
Hikers will enjoy a memorable outdoor adventure and discover superb landscapes and forest environment. The thrill of reaching the summit of a volcano is a fantastic reward for the hours of intense efforts. From the summit of the Virunga Volcanoes, the scenery is simply astonishing and hard to describe, provided the sky is free of clouds, one can see dozens of kilometres around in Rwanda, Congo and Uganda, with spectacular features such as Lake Kivu, Mt. Nyiragongo and Mt. Nyamulangira, Lakes Bulera and Ruhondo, the Albertine Rift in the Congo (Rutshuru plains), the mountains ranges of the Kivu (DRC) the city of Gisenyi/Goma.
Experience the hiking, climbing and nature Walks, caving in and around Volcanoes National park of Rwanda. The park has got much to offer than the mountain gorillas and golden monkeys that you can track. You can get many possibilities here for the outdoors lovers; you will also get to spend a week in and around volcanoes National park in Rwanda since its place for you to discover and explore.
There are six hiking trails that are currently available to those looking to hiking in the Volcanoes National Park;
Ngezi Trail : a gentle hike leading to picturesque Lake Ngezi at the floor of Visoke.
Karisoke Trail : somehow tougher, leads to the side of the former Karisoke Research
Visoke trail : leading up to the summit of Visoke.
Karisimbi Trail: the hardest hike, leading up to the summit of Karisimbi.
Mgahinga Trail : also recently re-opened, leads up to the summit of Mgahinga
Muhabura Trail : also recently re-opened, leads up to the summit of Muhabura
The Ngezi lake Trail
This is the shortest hike in Volcanoes National park and has got a small scenic shallow crater lake just at the foot of Mount Visoke in Volcanoes National park. This hike of 3 to 4 hours round trip, you will be accompanied by a park ranger and along the trail; you will able to see some monkeys and birds. The areas around the lake are known birding areas and home too many sought after birds. The trail offers the goodness of Virunga Volcanoes foothills including the Crater Lake, scenic views, monkeys, birds, and the wildlife.
Mount Visoke Hike
This hike is at an elevation of 3700 m above the sea level and is considered as the most perfect volcano from the base of the mountain. You also get to see the Crater Lake on top of the mount and enjoy the scenery. It’s not so demanding though might turn out to be tough due to its elevation and the steep slopes along the trail. This mount is found in both DRC and in Rwanda, however, its crater lake and the summit are both found in Rwanda. You get to go through variety of vegetation zones including the Afro Montane Zone with its unique plants including the large Lobelias.
Ascending takes around 3 hours and the round trip is 5 hours or longer and this depends on you. The guides will always escort you accompanied with the porters to offer their service. You get to enjoy a vigorous lunch that would have been packed and plenty of water for the climb- Hike. Get ready with the long sleeved shirt, sturdy boots, rain jacket, long trousers, the day pack, hat with the brim, as well as anything else carried for the Hike. Enjoy the scenic views along the hike and enjoy the stunning views as you venture up to the summit of mount Visoke.
Dian Fossey’s Hike
You get to hike the scientific research camp that is called Karisoke and it starts at the head quarters of the park. . Presently, the bits and pieces of the camp are found between mount Karisimbi and Visoke. The round trip is about 3 hours and many embark on the hike to see where Dian Fossey worked for years in her dedication to the mountain gorillas.
Hiking Mount Muhabura
This is the second highest peak that is inside Volcanoes National park. It belongs to Virunga volcano chain which is the most easterly volcano and extends both in Uganda and Rwanda and can be hiked on either sides of the border. The views at the top of the mount are as stunning as you are able to view other volcanoes of Rwanda and Uganda as well as DRC on specific clear days. In case you need a swim in the Crater Lake, you can choose to swim from Rwanda to the Ugandan side or walk around the Crater Lake. Getting to the top of this mount is not so easy since it takes some effort but can be done in one day. Get to explore the mountain and its lots of vegetation zones especially the Afro Montane.
Mount Karisimbi Hike
This is a guided two day hike to the 5th highest snow capped peak in Africa and it’s extremely an amazing journey. On the first day, you get to spend 6 hours hiking and climbing to the 3700m level where you get to spend a night, (camp here and enjoy dinner). On the next day, you proceed to the summit and the scenic wonders that are waiting for you. The descent takes only 6 hours.
Twin lakes of Ruhondo and Burera trek to Russumo falls:
Visit Rwanda’s most scenic lakes of Ruhondo and Burera. You can take a walk towards the view point on an afternoon cruise on Lake Ruhondo if possible towards sunset. On your arrival, you have a choice of taking the three hour hike to Russumo falls. Get to follow your guide along the most scenic trail through a beautiful valley before meeting the impressive waterfalls.
Here you have a chance to see the natural wonders and a good place for enjoying birds including; the African Marsh Harrier, the long crested Eagle, Cinnamon breasted bee eater, whitw tailed, and Grey throated Tit, stone chat, plain Martin, Paradise Flycatchers, common Moorhen and the pink backed pelican.
This waterfall trek is 3 hours in length and its best done in the morning and in case you have time, you will adventure the lakes including a cruise on Lake Ruhondo which is 1 to 2 hours long.
Buhanga Sacred Forest Trek; this is a small forest that comes with great meaning of history and culture to many Rwandan people. This forest was the place where the kings of Rwanda came and bathed in the waters before coronation. The forest became sacred grounds for those who lived locally and refused to cut down trees or plant gardens and farms nearby. This forest is known to be taking on different colors, even different dimensions depending on the season of the year, light and the weather. Get to walk under the tall and quite majestic trees and view the birds and colorful butterflies all around. The trails are made of lava stones and run through the forest.
Hiking the Musanze caves; these caves are a million years old and when you enter the massive cave complex, you will think you are stepping into a natural cathedral and its size is so amazing. These caves have provided a place of refugee to many including the storage of supplies and food by Rwandan Kings during times of war. The caves are so silent and the only sounds you will here is that of your own footsteps and drops of water that hits the ground. It home to many bats and these are visible as you light above to the ceiling. The caves have got a well constructed path that leads you to the other side of the cave and into day light making it an amazing experience.
Hiking both volcanoes in Uganda and Rwanda;
Just a short drive from Rwanda is Mgahinga National park in Uganda. This is another park from where you can hike the mountains that cook, the Virunga Volcanoes. There are many activities found here for the adventure lovers and it’s off the beaten track for the tourist. There are three volcanoes that you can climb in one day in Uganda and takes 6 to 9 hours. Please always carry the necessary equipments needed for the hike and be well equipped always.