Mountain Karisimbi in Rwanda

Mt. Karisimbi

Mount Karisimbi is among the most interesting tourist attraction in Rwanda. It is an inactive volcano in the Virunga Mountains on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo with 4,507 metres (14,787 ft). Karisimbi is the highest of the eight major mountains of the mountain range, which is a part of Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift. Karisimbi is flanked by Mikeno to the north, Bisoke to the east and Nyiragongo to the west, on the other side of the Rift Valley. Karisimbi is the 11th highest mountain of Africa. Karisimbi is a huge dome, now dormant, that dominates the range, more in girth than in height. The name Karisimbi comes from the word ‘amasimbi’ in the local language, Kinyarwanda, means white shell, which refers to the white-capped summit, which is often seen.

It is intresting that, this cap results not from snow but from hail and sleet, which accumulate, in the higher elevations from its frequent storms.  It is located within the Parc National Des Volcans, and many of the volcanoes are connected by good trails.  The going is quite steep and good navigation is required not only through the lower slopes, but also on the mountain itself.

Along side mount hiking, visitors can supplement their trip with mountain Gorilla tracking since karisimbi is located in volcanoes national park. Moreso, a visit to Dian Fossey tomb is also possible because is ias located at the slope of this mountain at 2,067m.

The ascent of Karisimbi—at 4,507m the sixth-highest mountain in Africa, after Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, Ruwenzori, Mount Meru of Tanzania and Ras Dashen in Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains, is a two-day excursion. Your first camp is at 3,700, a similar altitude to Bisoke, clearly visible behind the camp. The next day you wake as early as 5:30AM for your breakfast and early departure. The trail gets steeper, much as the fog closes in and ground gets muddy.  The terrain gets tougher here. At about 4,000m, you are above the tree line, the slopes become more exposed and here you need to wear your gloves and hat.

After about 2 hours ascent, you start on you last hundreds meters of climbing, walking on volcanic scree, more like grey gravel but not loose.  The wind starts getting harder and visibility drops to 25m. Suddenly, you realize you cannot climb the anymore – you are at the summit! The Congolese border is just within a few feet from here.  The descent back to the car park takes about 6 hours including breaks at the camp and the others.