Mount Binsoke (Visoke) Volcano Hike – Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Mount Bisoke (also Visoke), a dormant volcano, is located within Volcanoes National Park, and forms part of the Virunga mountain range bordering on DRC but the summit is located in Rwanda. It is approximately a 3 hr drive from Kigali and about 35 km northeast of the town of Goma and adjacent Lake Kivu. Mt. Bisoke brings out the perfect shape of a typical volcano right from its base..
It’s a guided trek and these are obtainable at the park reception. They will then guide you and your vehicle to the parking area to begin the hike. Note that the road from the reception to the parking area is very rocky and muddy – no matter the situation; you may require a 4×4 to access the starting point for the hike.
As earlier mentioned, the hike is guided. It is a strenuous and challenging hike and the 3700 meter elevation demands extra strength of climbers (set aside a full day to do this even if the minimum can be 5 or 6 hours) that climbs to the top of Mount Bisoke. The hike takes you across a series of different vegetation habitats starting with bamboo forests, then moving into Hagenia – Hypericum forest and finally moving through Senecio – Lobelia bush near the summit. The ascent usually takes around 3 hours.
I would not recommend this hike if you are unfit as some people choose to turn back in the middle of the trek….- Its a bit of a climb, though not too difficult as it may sound (hope this makes sense). There are porters that are willing to take your pack up for you for a fee and these can also be hired from the park headquarters. Once at the top, you are rewarded with magnificent views of the forest and the Crater Lake.
The 1957 eruption formed two small cones on the north flank, 11 km from the summit. The walk around the crater rim is highly recommended. Allow seven hours for the entire trip. Lake Ngezi (9,843 ft./3,000 m), a small, shallow crater lake, is the easiest hike in the park; it takes only three to four hours round-trip from the Visoke departure point.
Current park (2014-2015) fee for the climb US$ 75 per person, this covers the park’s guide and can be purchased on the day of the trek from the parks headquarters, advance bookings not necessary. The trek starts at 07:00am from the Park’s headquarters at Kinigi from where visitors will drive / be driven to the start point of the trek.
Take your packed lunch and a couple waters … bring gloves, sturdy boots, wear long light trousers, long sleeved shirt to protect you against the nettles, rain-jacket and a hat and of course your day-pack plus other things you think might be of help on a hike.
Tips: – Be sure to book the hike in the dry season, otherwise be prepared to contend with mud, mud and more volcanic mud that literally suck you down. I recommend hiring gators from park reception (or bring your own) unless you like the idea of ruining your pants.
– Keep your eyes and ears open on the hike, you may just come across a group of mountain gorillas.