Transfer from Kisoro to Mgahinga Gorilla NP.
Estimated journey time: 45 mins
[Today you can choose from one of the three hiking options below]
Option 1: Hike to the peak of Mount Gahinga, an extinct volcano and one of the eight volcanoes that make up the Virunga Massif mountain chain. Gahinga translates as ‘the small pile of stones’, many of which you’ll spot scattered around the lower slopes as you begin your hike. These stones were heaped together when clearing the land to make way for farming on these fertile volcano slopes. Your route then passes on through the bamboo zone through the dense bamboo thickets towering above you with glimpses over the rolling farmlands below. As you hike out of the bamboo zone the climb will become steeper, with ladders in some locations as you clamber higher and the clouds sweep around the highest reaches of the volcano. Your Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger, who will be accompanying you will also be happy to give a helping hand if needed! On reaching the summit at 3474m with the clouds swirling around you, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views over the highlands covered in a mosaic of farmlands, forests and highlands lakes, stretching up to the rainforest hills of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Rest at your lunch stop beside the luminous green swamps and moors of the park, where plants such as alchemilla, senecio and lobelia thrive in this other worldly environment. You’ll then descend the back down the volcano slopes, the route typically taking around 6 hours to complete the 15km trail. Back on the lower slopes set amongst the many lava tubes you’ll find Garama Cave, a site of significant cultural significance amongst the Batwa. Your guide will explain to you the history of the cave and its association with the Batwa, before you complete your hike back to the boundaries of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Estimated excursion time: 6 hrs
Option 2: Hike to the peak of Mount Sabyinyo, an extinct volcano and one of the eight volcanoes that make up the Virunga Massif mountain chain. Sabyinyo translates as ‘old man's teeth’, an apt name as the jagged volcano peaks reach into the skies, peaking at 3669m. This hiking route typically takes around 8 hours to complete the 14km trail to the peaks and back down to the boundary of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The trail begins by winding through grasslands at the volcano base, before entering the bamboo zone and then rainforest covering the volcano's slopes. This is where the climb becomes steeper, as you trek through the thick cloud drenched forests to catch your first peek at the summit peeking out of the swirling mist ahead of you. Continue by climbing a series of steep ladders and observe the stark change in vegetation as you hike over carpets of moss, pass under ‘old man’s beard’ cascading from overhanging branches and meander between other worldly giant lobelia to reach the peaks. The summit of Mount Sabyinyo marks the intersection of the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. So get your camera ready for that shot of yourself straddling three countries, on the top of an extinct volcano, it’s more than worth the effort! After a rest at the top of the volcano you will make the steep descent down the slopes to complete your hike before dusk.
Estimated excursion time: 8 hrs
Option 3: Hike to the peak of Mount Muhavura, an extinct volcano and one of the eight volcanoes that make up the Virunga Massif mountain chain. The mountain's name translates as ‘the guide’, is the third highest peak in the Virunga volcano chain and highest to its immediate neighbours meaning it can be spotted from a great distance, aiding local navigation. This is a challenging trek and the most difficult in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, so you’ll need to be in good shape to complete the trail to the summit and back. Your trail begins by winding through forest covering the base of the volcano, with a variety of monkeys scampering through the trees to be spotted. The landscape then thins as you climb a stepper ascent, with ladders in places, to more rugged scenes of trees draped in moss and finally old world low shrubs adapted to growth in the black volcanic rock. On summiting the peak at 4127m, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic vistas of Uganda's Virunga volcanoes, Lake Edward, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the snow-capped peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains far in the distance. Then enjoy a very well deserved rest with picnic lunch beside a small yet beautiful black and glassy crater-lake, 39m in diameter. You will then descend down the side of the volcano to reach the boundaries of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, arriving by dusk.
Estimated excursion time: 9 hrs
*Please note if you don’t reach the summit by 2pm then you’ll be required to turn around and start the descent so you return before dusk.
Transfer from Mgahinga Gorilla NP to Kisoro.
Estimated journey time: 45 mins
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Travellers Rest Hotel, room