The Virunga Mountain range, a family of eight volcanoes stretching across Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is home to some of the region’s best hiking opportunities and most gorgeous views. Tourists to Rwanda can hike much of the range, so lace up those hiking boots, book the permits, and get ready to hit the trails.
Mount Bisoke: 12,175 feet (3,711 meters)
Climbing Mount Bisoke, while no easy feat, is considered to less challenging that other hikes on the Virunga range. This hike can be completed in a morning, and features an impressive crater lake at the top. Unfortunately, since the summit is shared by the Democratic Republic of Congo, hikers aren’t able to pop into the lake for a post-hike swim. Cross your fingers, though, as a few lucky hikers a year manage to see mountain gorillas on the trail.
Mount Muhabura: 13,540 feet (4,127 meters)
Marking the border between Rwanda and Uganda, striking vistas of Mount Muhabura can be seen from much of Rwanda’s northwest. Views from the top of the volcano include five of the other volcanoes in the range, as well as the beautiful twin lakes of Rwanda. Although it is the second-highest volcano in the Virunga range, this challenging hike can be undertaken in a single day.
Mount Karisimbi: 14,787 feet (4,507 meters)
Rwanda’s highest volcano (and Africa’s 11th highest mountain), Mount Karisimbi, is stunning. Towering over the rest of the Virunga range, snow can be found at the summit during dry season. Hikers have to commit two days to this hike, spending the night in wooden cabins and enjoying a magnificent Rwandan sunset and expansive views. For travelers who are up to the challenge, the hike is considered to be one of the region’s most spectacular.
Mount Sabinyo and Mount Gahinga: 11,923 feet (3,634 meters) and 11,398 feet (3,474 meters)
If you’re looking for even more volcanic adventures, make sure to check out Mount Gahinga and Mount Sabinyo. Though not in Rwanda, these two volcanoes on the Virunga range are located just across the Rwandan border in Uganda, and the volcanoes themselves can be seen from Rwanda. Sabinyo translates from Kinyarwanda to mean “old man’s teeth,” illustrating the volcano’s three rocky summits perfectly. Sabinyo is famous for its jagged edges, changing vegetation, and a summit shared by Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and serious hikers will delight in the makeshift ladders that connect the mountain paths. This hike, while strenuous, can still be completed in a day.
For an easier hike, check out Mount Gahinga. Located in M’Gahinga National Park, this mountain is wonderfully scenic, and home to a family of gorillas that appear on the trails every so often. Hikes can be accomplished in a a single morning, and visitors can cross the Rwandan–Ugandan border before and after the hike if they want to stay based in Rwanda.