Mountain Bisoke Hike – Hiking Adventure in Volcanoes National Park Ruhengeri
While contemplating on participating in a safari in Rwanda do not miss the eye popping climb to the summit of Mount Bisoke. The hike is one of the most adventurous and thrilling activities around Volcanoes National Park and Rwanda in general. Most spectacular about this activity is the view of the Crater Lake that is at the summit of this mountain.
The lake has a diameter of 400 meters. Mt Bisoke also known as “mount Visoke” is a dormant volcano bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo straddling two national parks that is Virunga National park and Volcanoes National Park with the largest part of the mountain. The peak of Mt Bisoke lies in Rwanda and forms part of the great Virunga mountain massif. It stands at an attitude of 3711 meters above sea level (12,175 feet) and is considered Rwanda’s third highest mountain. Besides the Crater Lake at the summit of this mountain, another crater lake (Lake Ngezi) exists just midway to the peak (top) of the mountain (about 11km from the summit) hence the locals named the mountain “Bisoke” which is a Swahili word meaning “Soaked with water”.
The Mount Bisoke hike is not just a mere hike but a fascinating fact is that you will get an opportunity to encounter and observe the mountain gorillas for at least 10 minutes (discretely by Rangers), other primates like the golden monkeys, listen to the interesting sounds/voices of different bird species, buffaloes and forest elephants. However you are not allowed to take photos of these creatures while hiking.
Unlike other mountains like Karisimbi, climbing mountain Bisoke is regarded as not so challenging and arduous because going up and descending can take just a day and even inexperienced hikers can easily participate in the activity. Nevertheless, hikers should be physically fit to be able to participate in this activity. Mountain Bisoke is so enchanting to hike because you go through various ecological zones that is; rainforest, bamboo and alpine (lobelia) zones and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the mountain.
How Long does it take to hike Mountain Bisoke?
It takes roughly 3 hours to drive from Kigali town to the mountain. The hike takes approximately 6 hours to and from the mountain summit which includes 4 hours for going up the summit and 2 hours for going down the mountain (starting point). However experienced hikers can only take 3 hours to go up the summit of the mountain and only one hour back to the starting point. Best time to hike this mountain is dry seasons in the months of June to September and December to February when the trails are not muddy.
What to expect while Hiking mountain Bisoke?
You are expected to converge at the park headquarters in Kinigi by 7:00am whereby you together with other hikers will be briefed by the park ranger (tour guide for the hike). The advantage with this activity is that the park ranger are very skilled and knowledgeable about the escapades of the mountain, one reason is due to their qualifications and two because they are natives of the area.
You will be driven from the park headquarters to the head trails (starting point) where you will be accompanied by a tour guide, a porter to carry your bags is assigned to you and it is recommended to hire one (at US$10) to carry your bags because climbing the mountains with heavy luggage can prove tiresome and also hiring their services is a way of supporting the local economy). The porters also support/help you by pulling you or pushing you when climbing and an armed escort (park ranger) for the group. This unforgettable hike starts at 8:00am and the starting point has paved paths since you will go through villages/communities and pristine farmlands but it gets tougher and steeper as you proceed.
However once you reach the summit, you will forget the tussle you went through because while at the summit you will enjoy the spectacular beauty of the surrounding area including the breath taking Crater Lake and Democratic Republic of Congo. While here you can rest for some time, and only go down when you deem fit or are ready. But the amount of time spent at the summit will depend on the weather in that if it is too cold or misty you will spend less time but if it is warm you can even have a picnic. The magical feeling of standing at the top of a mountain leaves you triumphant.
Equipments/requirements needed for the hike
You need hiking equipments (gears) which include water proof hiking boots to protect from the grip of the mud, walking stick for your support as you climb the steep terrains of the mountain (usually provided by the park management at the headquarters)
Wear appropriately which include long trousers not shorts to protect your legs from fire ants, scratches from grass, wear long sleeved shirts to protect you from the stinging nettles and gardening gloves safeguard you hands when supporting yourself with tree branches, sweaters, headgear to warm you because the higher you will climb the colder it becomes.
Carry snacks to rescue you in case you get famished and water or any other energy drink to quench your thirst during the hike.
In conclusion, mount Bisoke hike is a white-knuckle activity worth spending time because of the fact that it can be participated by both first time and experienced hikers, and while on this hike you will encounter the mountain gorillas, golden monkeys and bird species that spice up the activity.