Climbing the Virunga Volcanoes in Mgahinga Gorilla Park in Uganda

Posted by on September 11, 2019

Climbing the Virunga Volcanoes-The Mufumbiro Mountains that Cook

Tips-Advice-Information for Climbing the Virunga Volcanoes in Mgahinga Gorilla Park


 Climbing the Virunga Volcanoes in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. Climb the Mufumbiro Mountains, the Mountains that cook in Uganda.  Hit the Trail and climb the peaks of the three Virunga Volcanoes in the small park with many activities. Mgahinga Gorilla Park means climbing the Volcanoes without the crowds. 

Climb Mount Sabinyo, Mount Muhavura, and Mount Gahinga in a day-hike-climb.  Choose one of the Volcanoes, or climb all three of Mufumbiro Mountains. Each one is a day-climb from 6-to 9-hours in length.

The stunning and scenic views from the peaks are breathtaking and well worth the effort. Rwanda, DR Congo, the Virungas, the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon, Lake Edward, and Queen Elizabeth Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest are all before as a picture postcard.

As you climb the volcanoes, you pass through various vegetation zones. It begins with a low woodland area which was once an inhabited area until the park was established.

You then enter the montane forest area and continue into the bamboo forest area which makes up a large portion of the park — the Hagenia-Hypericum or Ericaceous zone which is above the Bamboo zone. The Afro-Alpine zone is next on your ascent, and it is here that you will see the giant Senecio and Lobelia Species.

The best months of the year are January, February, March, late June, July, August, September, October, and the last two weeks of December.

Most Tourists to Uganda come to trek Gorillas, Chimpanzees, see the wildlife, fewer choose to climb the Virunga Volcanoes, the Mufumbiro Mountains of Uganda in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. 

Climbing the Virunga Volcanoes in the Pearl of Africa – Uganda, there is nothing to compare. A different experience for most. Something not to be missed. It might not be on your bucket list, but it should be.


Climbing the Virunga Volcanoes in Mgahinga Gorilla Park

Take a look at the various Trails, also do not miss the vegetation zones that you will be passing through.  While Hiking or Climbing in the Park, you are accompanied by armed Rangers who know the Park well, keep your well-being in mind and get you back safely. The Beauty about Hitting the Trails and Peaks in Mgahinga Gorilla Park is that most of the time it is so without the crowds, unlike in Rwanda.


Climbing the Virunga Volcanoes in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Hiking Trails – Nature Walks – Volcano Climbs on  the Virunga Volcanoes


Hitting the Volcano Peaks – Volcano Climbs in Mgahinga Gorilla Park:


Climb Mount Sabinyo (Sabyinyo in Rwanda) -Elevation-3645 meters:

This volcano is also called “Old Man’s Big Teeth” pointing out that the crown of the volcano has eroded over time. Like the teeth of an old man.

The Climb calls for a pre-dawn start to return to base before sunset, which is at 6:45 PM.

As you pass through the Bamboo zone, which is at the 2400 – 2800 meter elevation, you often spot the Golden Monkeys that live here. Gorillas are rarely spotted as are the Forest Elephants and Buffaloes.

There are three peaks or summit on this mountain with stunning views of Rwanda, Democratic Republic  Congo, and Uganda. The last peak involves climbing up some ladder fastened onto cliffs at a 60-degree angle. There are also steep steps in places.

When you reach the third summit, you have the best 360-degree view of the Virunga Massif, Rwanda, DR Congo, and Uganda. It is like from the clouds, from heaven kind of view that will long remain with you.

At the third summit, you can step into Rwanda and DR Congo without a visa. However, due to the rugged terrain of Mount Sabinyo, it can only be accessed from the Ugandan side in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. That is because Uganda has devised a safe but challenging trail that includes handmade ladders to assist climbers at the steepest sections of the climb.

The climb is not for the faint of heart, and you do have to be in good shape to make it to the third summit, some give up the climb at the first summit. This has been the most popular climb with our clients’, even though it is the toughest climb in Mgahinga Gorilla Park.

At the third summit of Mt. Sabyinyo, you can place one foot in Rwanda, another in Uganda, and your hand in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). If the sky is clear, you can view the entire range, which encompasses one of the last strongholds of the highly endangered mountain gorilla.

Climbing Mount Sabinyo: Bring and wear the right stuff.  Use a porter to carry your daypack. Rely on the Uganda Wildlife Authority Ranger to guide you on this day.  They know what is best for you and will keep you safe and secure on your Volcano Climb. Be sure to read our advice as to what to wear and your level of fitness below. Mount Sabinyo is a climb for the more experienced.  


 Climb Mount Gahinga – Elevation 3474-Meters:

Climbers might overlook Mount Gahinga, the neglected by Volcano Climber who choose to climb Mount Muhavura or Mount Sabinyo instead/ It, but it remains an excellent choice where you can explore a Crater Lake Swamp at the summit.

Those who choose to climb Mount Gahinga voice no regret, but gush about the scenery that they encountered on their trek.

The name Gahinga: As you approach the park you will notice that there are piles of rocks all around the gardens of homes at the base of the hike – Gahinga means little stones, little stones, and villagers here have gathered and used them for centuries.

This is a 6 – 7-hour hike – climb and once again quite rewarding with great views, you also pass through the Bamboo Forest and different vegetation zones as you move toward the summit. You will likely see the lovable Golden Monkeys, even Gorillas as you pass through the Bamboo zone. Buffaloes and Elephants are here; most often, you will see their droppings and not them.

As you climb up, there are Kodak moments wherever you turn.  One has to have the camera ready to take advantage of those photogenic moments.

The swamp at the summit was once a pristine crater lake, but it turned into a swamp over time. The swamp surrounded is surrounded by giant Lobelias that are even more stunning when they bloom.  The swamp harbors wildlife such as Duikers and even Serval Cats. Ask your ranger if you could have a closer look and explore it and most likely, he or she will oblige.

Climbing Mount Gahinga is a choice for those that are not perfectly fit but still want to climb a Volcano.  That they can do and Mount Gahinga is the right choice for them.

Mount  Gahinga is a more accessible Volcano to climb compared to the other two. The total Trek is six hours in duration. Be sure to read our advice as to what to bring, wear, and fitness level.

Mount Gahinga is perfect for those that are beginning to hike.  


 Climb Mount Muhavura (Mout Muhabura)  (4127meters high)

This  volcano is also referred to as “the Guide.”  Visible from far and wide it provides some of the best views available in Uganda – from the top of the hikers can see the Virunga Volcano Chain, Lake Edward, and Queen Elizabeth Park.  Even the peaks of the famed Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon are visible from here.

Mount Muhavura is the steepest volcano climb which means that you should be an experienced hiker if you want to climb  Volcano. Like Mount Sabinyo this ascent is not faint of heart. You need to be in good shape. We recommend that you trek gorillas before attempting a volcano climb.

This hike takes about seven to nine hours to complete the trek, but it is well worth it, and it takes an early start. The views of from the summit are stunning and breathtaking from this the highest Volcano in Mgahinga. The 40-meter wide crater lake is another reason that climbers choose this Volcano Climb.

Volcano Myths and Legends: We recommend that you do not disturb the giant snake that legend says is here.  Sinc disturbing will lead to an eruption.  Thankfully that story remains a legend.

In our opinion: Mount Muhvura can be climbed on the Rwandan and Ugandan side of the border. Ideally, it would be helpful and a novel thing if you can ascent the volcano in one country and descent the mountain in the other. Presently that is not possible.

Swimming in a Volcano Crater Lake? Unless you belong to the polar bear swim during winter club, it is not recommended. Enjoy the scenery, the views from the crater lake and focus on the trek.

Mount Muhavura is a favorite Volcano Climb in Mgahinga Gorilla Park in Uganda. The elevation, the tallest Volcano, the scenic views from the summit and on the climb and the Crater Lake at the top of it. Add to that the occasional Mountain Gorilla Sightings, Golden Monkeys, Forest Elephants and Buffaloes and you have a perfect African Volcano Climb in the Virunga Volcanoes found in Uganda.


Volcano Climbing Tips and Advice-Mgahinga Gorilla Park:

 Volcano Climbing in Mgahinga Gorilla Park-Know Before you go:

For the Best Volcano Climbing Experience, it is best to know before you.  It is good to see what you will be getting into and to see if you can handle, or want to do it. We suggest that you do Volcano Climbing after you trek gorillas in either Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla Park. Most often the Gorilla Trek will be easier than the Volcano Climb, and you will have sufficient energy left for the Volcano Climb.

Volcano Climbing-Know Before you Go – Enjoy the Volcano Climb


Volcano Climbing Gear-Clothing-Footwear:

Things to Pack and Bring for your Volcano Climb

Many of the items will be the same as for Gorilla Trekking wear and gear. Common Sense, Practical things will do.  You do not need to bring your hiking sticks from R.E.I.  You do not need extraordinary Volcano Climbing Wear. Things that you have and use will work fine.

  • Waterproof well-worn in, quality Hiking Boots with Ankle Support. Gumboots, Wellies, or Rubber Boots are popular with Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers. Great- but they give little ankle-support. They do provide  Protection up to the knees
  • Light Waterproof-Backpack-Daypack: This is where we strongly suggest using a porter. It is best to be unincumbered, and you climb up ladders on the sides of sheer cliffs going up Mount Sabinyo. The daypack should contain water or juice, a packed lunch, Sunscreen, a short sleeve top that you might want to put on when the sun comes out in full at noon. Insect Repellent, Camera Equipment, lenses, batteries in Ziploc Bags, or shower or bathing cap.
  • Long-Trousers: Jeans are great. We suggest that you tuck in your trousers into thick socks that you are wearing with boots. This protects you from nettles, thorns, and scratchy brush.
  • Long-Sleeved Shirt: This protects your arms. Notice, the Rangers with you do not wear short sleeve shirts.
  • Light Rain Jacket or Poncho: Put it in your daypack if it is not raining. It might rain on the way up or down.
  • Hat-protection from the Sun – Rain:  Wide-Brim Hat is best for sun protection.
  • Tough Gardening Gloves; Sound odd to you – quite practical protecting your hands brushing nettles, thorns, most importantly thy are handy when you are pulling yourself up on a brush, branch, ladder on the sides of a  volcano in Mgahinga Park.
  • Altitude Sickness tablets: Such as Diamox or Acetazolamide should be swallowed a day or morning before the hike if necessary. They can easily be purchased from pharmacies in Kigali, Entebbe, Kampala or Kisoro. We suggest that you get them prescribed from your doctor at the same time you get your prescription for your malaria regiment.  Some experience ringing of the ears and other symptoms-the medication alleviates that.
  •  Sunglasses – Sunscreen:  When the sun comes out, it is best to protect yourself.
  • Insect Repellent: There are no mosquitoes or Tsetse Flies at these altitudes. Flies and ants might annoy you. Be sure to put repellent into a Ziploc Bag to protect other things in case of leakage.
  • Camera and Binoculars:  Protect your camera from the elements with a Ziploc Bag, shower, or bathing cap. Binoculars add weight, and most do not need them.

Things to have on the day of Volcano Climb:

  • 3-Liters of Water: You need to stay hydrated on the Volcano Climb-We provide Water for our Clients
  • Packed Lunch & Energy Snacks: Supplement the packed lunch with Energy Bars. Locally dried fruit, Nuts such is called G-Nuts- Peanuts, Sim-Sim – Sesame Seed and Honey Cakes. Please do not litter, pack it in – pack it out.
  • Sani-Wipes: Come in very handy on the Climb.
  • Local Walking Stick: A must steady you on your climb up. They are often made from Bamboo.
  • Service of a Porter:  One of the best jobs around for young men and women near Mgahinga Gorilla Park. Their services allow you to focus on the Climb and the scenery.

 Physical Fitness – How Fit do I need to be for Volcano Climbs:

Your level of fitness plays an essential part in the Volcano Climb. We suggest that you prepare yourself both for the Gorilla Trek and the Volcano Climb in Uganda.  Fitness is more of criteria than is age.  The best way to prepare is to takes hikes at home before coming.

Hike up some hills.  If you do not have hills to climb, then go to your local gym and get into shape Uganda.  Uganda is different from other African Safari Destination in that many of the activities like Volcano Climbing get you out of the vehicle and experiencing Africa on Foot.

Volcano Climbing requires a better than moderate level of fitness. Otherwise one gives up before reaching the summit. Prepare by taking regular hikes.


Guidance and Security for your Volcano Climbs:

 Highly Trained and Experienced Rangers:

You are with a team of Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers that are weaponized to protect from a wild animal. They are knowledgeable, courteous, fluent in English and will lead you safely up down the Volcano. They do this 365 days of the year. They are in communication with park headquarters and can deal with any situation that might arise.

Volcano HIkes and Climbs in Mgahinga Gorilla Parks have been a safe and secure activity with no problems recorded or reported.

Follow the guidelines for the Climb during the orientation and during the climb itself.  The Rangers are experienced climber and hiker and often bring years o both training and experience onto your Volcano Climb.


 Our Take -Volcano Climbs and Hikes in Mgahinga Gorilla Park:

Volcano Climbs and Hikes have become more popular in the last few years. This off the beaten path location is a paradise for hikers and climbers.  Besides Hiking and Climbing, there is Gorilla and Golden Monkey Trekking where one can say several days in the area and also take in Lake Mutanda and the southern region of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where you continue hiking through an ancient forest.

Southwest Uganda is one of the best areas in all of Uganda for hiking and hitting the peaks of the Volcanoes.  We can include any of the above hikes and climbs in your Experiential Safari in Uganda.

Mgahinga Gorilla Park is the perfect park for Climbers and Hikers that want to include Gorilla Trekking and the Batwa Cultural Trail.


 If you want to include any of the Hikes and Climbs in Mgahinga Gorilla Park in your safari let us know.