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Gorilla Tracking/ Karisimbi Climb

Gorilla Tracking/Karisimbi Climb 4,507m, Volcanoes National Park, combines gorilla trekking with a Karisimbi mountain hike within the Virunga region.

Volcanoes National Park

A magnificent and ecologically diverse destination. This chain of steep free-standing mountains, spanning altitudes of 2,400m to 4,507m, and linked by fertile saddles formed by solidified lava flows, ranks among the most stirring and memorable in the African landscape. The tallest member of the chain and the most westerly part of the national park is Karisimbi (4507m) on the border with the DRC, and Mgahinga and Muhavura on the Ugandan border.

Mount Karisimbi

It is the highest of the volcanoes found within the Virunga region and the eleventh highest in Africa. This inactive volcano is found in the Volcanoes National Park and on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rising to 4,507 metres, Mount is surrounded by other neighbouring volcanoes like Mikeno, Nyiragongo, and Bisoke. The mountain gets its name Karisimbi (Kinyarwanda for “White Shell”) from the snow that usually covers the top during the dry season. Karisimbi has a caldera called Branca and two craters on the summit, the largest of which is Mutango.

Mount Karisimbi Hike

Visitors to the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda usually combine Gorilla trekking with a Karisimbi mountain hike. Climbing Mount Karisimbi can be a strenuous but special experience. Due to its location within the Volcanoes National Park, visitors should expect to come across several bird species and see golden monkeys. Occasionally, mountain gorillas pass close to the grave of Dian Fossey. The famous researcher on mountain gorillas.

The trail and path towards the top of the volcano contain great physical features/landscape, volcanic features, dense forest and vegetation), which are beautiful to behold. However, the hike may involve navigating through thick jungles, steep slopes, and muddy trails during the rainy season. It’s for this reason that hiking Mount Karisimbi is best done during the drier periods. This is between January and March and July to early October.

You need to be in good shape and have the endurance and stamina required to navigate through steep and difficult sections of the mountain slopes. This is especially important if you are hiking in a group. You wouldn’t want to keep your fellow hikers waiting for you.  You also need to mentally prepare for the high altitude conditions. This can be distressing and slow you down. Porters are available for hire for 20 USD. They will help you with extra luggage, tents and other hiking equipment.

Day 1: Kigali to Ruhengeri

The trip starts in Kigali with a city tour following the genocide memorials. In the afternoon, drive for about 2½ hours to Ruhengeri town for dinner and overnight.

Day 2: Gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park

After breakfast, transfer to the park headquarters for briefing by the ranger/guides pertaining to the Gorilla tracking. The well-set lecture will give you great insights. The park rules – Dos and Don’ts will be well communicated. It is at this point we head into the forest in search of the gorillas. You will traverse the bamboo slopes of the Virunga with the ranger guides ahead of you. A porter will be unquestionably handy.

The tracking may take about 2–7 hours, depending on the movement of the gorillas. On finding the gorillas, you will be allowed one (1) hour to watch and photograph. You will exit the park and be driven back to your hotel.

Day 3: Hiking Mt. Karisimbi

It is the 5th highest snow-capped mountain in Africa. Karisimbi in the local dialect means “white shell”, thus its white-capped summit.

Soon after a healthy breakfast, we drive to you and will register at the O.R.T.P.N. offices for formalities and registration. A ranger/guide will be assigned after briefings on the hike. The climb takes about 6–7 hours. Finally, dine and stay at an overnight camp on the mountain.

Day 4: Ascend the summit – Kigali

Early start without delay to ascend the summit, taking about four (4) hours. Celebrate while taking photos, and descend to the camp for a hot brunch. Descend further down to the starting point for your transfer back to Kigali. Lastly, dinner and an overnight stay in a hotel.

Options are, of course, many and varied, and in many cases, we can be flexible about the itinerary for accommodation facilities and the extension of the safari destinations.

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