The Virunga range volcanoes are situated in volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Mgahinga national park in Uganda and Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mountains are a chain of eight volcanoes of which 2 are active and the mountains slopes of these mountains are home to the endangered mountain gorillas.
The Virunga Mountains include; mount Bisoke, mount Karasimbi, mount Mikeno, mount Sabinyo, mount Muhabura, mount Nyirangongo, mount Nyamurangira and mount Gahinga. All these mountains are located within the national parks of the three countries.
Mount Bisoke also sometimes known as mount Visoke is among or the easiest to climb of the Virunga volcanoes, the mountain stands on an elevation of 3,711 meters above sea level with a typical conic shape of a volcano.
Mount Bisoke straddles across the border of Rwanda and the democratic Republic of Congo with its summit entirely located in Rwanda. Mount Bisoke last erupted in 1957b leading to the formation of a spectacular crater lake at the summit about 400 meters wide and there is also another crate lake called Lake Ngezi just 11 kilometers away from its summit.
Mount Bisoke was formed as a result of a rift action on the forming divergent boundary of the East African rift. The name Bisoke is derived from a local Kiswahili word to mean “soaked with water” this might have been so because the mountain has got two crater lakes.
Vegetation at mount Bisoke is characterized with equatorial rainforest, bamboo zone, hagenia, hypericum forests, and senecio and lobelia bush. You will be able to spot various wildlife especially primates and different species of birds as you climb mount Bisoke.
The hike to mount Bisoke starts from Kinigi park headquarters at 7:00am in the morning, the briefing occurs and then the hike starts in company of a park ranger and porters if you might need. Hiking sticks can also be acquired from the park headquarters.
The hike to mount Bisoke only takes 6 hours; hikers can take 4 hours climbing to the top and 2 hours descending though experienced hikers can even take less than 3 hours.
A permit to climb mount Bisoke costs $75 per person climbing.
Mount Bisoke is home to various mountain gorilla families in volcanoes national park and it’s also the mountain where the late famous American primatologist Dian Fossey established her institute of research and conservation of the endangered mountain gorillas.
Climbing mount Bisoke should be accompanied with gorilla trekking, the cost of trekking mountain gorillas is $1500 in Rwanda and the activity takes between 30 minutes to seven hours depending on the location of the gorilla family and phase of hikers.
What to carry
Travellers planning to hike mount Bisoke can come along with hiking boots, garden gloves, rain coats and jackets, warm clothes, insect repellents, sun glasses and hats among the rest. The best time for visiting is during the dry season for better clear views and avoid slippery and muddy trails during the rainy season.
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