Climbing & Hiking Mount Bisoke is one of the amazing adventure activity that visitors can participate in while at Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. Mount Bisoke also known as Visoke is one of the volcanoes that form the Virunga mountains which stand between the northern border of Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo. Bisoke Mountain raises up to 12,175 feet (3,711 m) above sea level. It’s an extinct volcano that last erupted in 1957 and it has a unique scenery of a crater lake on its summit that attract most hikers.
Mount Bisoke stand at the border of Rwanda and DR Congo with its summit and the crater lakes on the Rwandan side meaning the best side to hike mount bisoke is Rwanda. If you are looking for the less strenuous hiking experience in Rwanda, Mount Bisoke hike is the easiest among the five volcanoes that Rwanda has. The mountain derives its name from a Kiswahili word meaning “soaked water”.
Mount Bisoke is a part of Volcanoes national park Rwanda, the home to the endangered mountain gorillas. Therefore visitors to Volcanoes national park can add Mount Bisoke hike to their gorilla trekking itinerary. The hike is manageable by all types of trekkers even those with little or no hiking experience usually undetake this hiking adventure and make it to the summit. Climbing Mount Bisoke takes 6 hours with 4 climbing up to the summit and 2 hours sloping down from the summit. Hikers are escorted by the park ranger who can always interprete nature as he controls the movement and speed. You can always take rests as you climb up the mountain since its steep and demanding. Hiking mount Bisoke is a half day activity that start early in the morning and therefore requires visitors to spare the whole day for it.
Mount Bisoke hike starts at Kinigi park headquarters where visitors meet the park guide for the briefing about the hike at 7 am. If you are traveling with a tour company, your tour driver will handle payments and all formalities needed. For independent traveler, doing everything by your own, you will need to seek guidance to apply and pay for this activity in advance.
Trekkers who wants to support the local community directly and those not trusting their hiking capabilities can hire porters who will help in carrying their back pack as well as giving a push or pull during the hike. Mount Bisoke is feeding area for mountain gorillas and golden monkeys meaning you may see them along the trek if lucky enough but remember to keep away from them as most of these are not habituated. The ranger guides are well experienced and well equipped with information about the area so they provide all the necessary information and answer all the visitors’ questions.
The hiking experience takes you through a rugged terrain with mud filled paths but these are part of adventure and can be trekked easily. The summit of Mount Bisoke has no snow but it’s usually foggy. That crater lake you find at the summit is not fit for swimming but provides amazing views of the surrounding areas. Mountains like mt Karisimbi and Mikeno can be seen very well while at the top of Bisoke Volcano. Mount Bisoke has a variety of vegetation cover such as bamboo forests, Hagenia forest, lobelia bushes and other vegetation types. Animals that live in this mountain are forest elephants, golden monkeys, gorillas and variety of bird species.
Visitors going for Mount Bisoke hike in Rwanda are advised to wear appropriate hiking gears or clothes, carry enough drinking water and snacks. Wear hand gloves if you have them and have a walking stick to get more support as you ascend and descend the mountain. Travelers interested in this hike need to be physically fit and mentally determined to climb no matter the obstacles on the way. As you climb up the oxygen levels keep reducing depending on the weather conditions for the day of your hiking. But anyone can participate in this hike and the time taken depends on the pace on which the hikers move.