Mount Gahinga Hiking Safari: Hiking Mount Gahinga from Rwanda or Uganda is one of the most overlooked hobbies, but it is one of the most rewarding, with beautiful features such as the Volcanic Caves and shallow wetlands at its top. Mount Gahinga is the smallest and lowest of the eight Virunga Volcanoes, lying at 3474 meters above sea level and shared by Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
Hiking Mount Gahinga is therefore done in both Volcanoes National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, albeit the latter is more popular. Gahinga is a Kinyarwanda word that translates loosely as “stone pile.”
Mount Gahinga Hiking Safari.
Climbing Mount Gahinga takes 6-8 hours round trip and is done with the assistance of two rangers/guides, one for protection and the other to accompany you through the journey. Get up early, have breakfast, and then mentally and physically prepare for the trek.
Transfer to the Park Headquarters in Kinigi for those visiting Volcanoes National Park or Ntebeko for those visiting Mgahinga Gorilla National Park for a briefing and group pictures with other hikers after making preparations. Begin the journey by looking for mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, elephants, and bushbucks, as well as bird species. Expect to see spectacular vistas of other Virunga Volcanoes from afar, making you want to trek them as well.
The initial portion of the journey takes you through a dense bamboo grove near the mountain’s base. Because the ground is level, this segment is pretty simple. Here is also where you will most likely encounter golden monkeys, gorillas, and other primates. Buffaloes frequent the mountain slopes and can be deadly to hikers. That is one of the reasons why hikers are usually accompanied by an armed Ranger. The mountain becomes steeper after the bamboo groves until it reaches its peak. Climbing Mount Gahinga in Uganda would require passing through multiple bat-filled volcanic caves and other volcanic phenomena before reaching the summit.
Because of its distinct peak, Gahinga differs from Sabyinyo and Muhabura. A vast shallow crater wetland with unusual sub-alpine plants like Senecio, Lobelia flourish, and Alchemilla may be found near the peak.
As you continue going towards the peak, you will meet various flora kinds, with bamboo trees providing the finest view. Expect altitude sickness as you continue to ascend toward the summit, and as you get closer, the breathtaking vista of the peak will greet you. As you get to the swamp-dominated peak, you will snap photos, have your packed lunch or snacks, and rest for a little before preparing to descend to the Mountain’s base. The fascinating aspect of this walk is that the descent is much simpler and faster when ladders are used.
The peak provides breathtaking views of the other distant volcanoes in the Virunga and Rwenzori ranges. Mount Muhabura and Sabyinyo may be seen well, tempting you to climb to their summits in the coming days. Take as many shots as you can of your groups and distant scenes. Descending is significantly simpler than ascending, however, attention is required, especially while climbing down ladders, to avoid slipping or tumbling down.
Why You Should Hike Mount Gahinga?
There are many reasons to hike mountains around the world, but there are four reasons to hike the small Mount Gahinga, including the beautiful swamp at the summit, the small tract of Bamboo forest you will hike through, and the fact that it is one of the easiest and most comfortable hikes to complete. There is also a potential of seeing animals such as Black-fronted duikers, golden monkeys, bushbucks, and serval cats if you are lucky.
Cost of Hiking Permit for Mount Gahinga.
A hiking permit for Mount Gahinga costs 80 USD in Uganda and 75 USD in Rwanda. You can book your hiking permit through a trusted tour operator company like Explore Rwanda Tours.
What to pack for your Mount Gahinga Hiking Safari?
Hikers on Mount Gahinga must wear long pants, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirts or blouses for female hikers, robust rainproof hiking boots, thick gardening gloves, cotton socks, cap, and bring a walking stick, light-weight bag to store their camera and binoculars. Hire a porter if necessary, and keep a first-aid kit on hand.
What is the Best Time to go on a Mount Gahinga Hiking Safari?
Hiking Mount Gahinga is an all-year pastime, but if you do it during the rainy season which are March, April, May, October, and November, you may face a difficult walk over muddy and treacherous terrain. The dry months of January, February, June, July, August, September, and December are so ideal for lighter and less difficult hiking expeditions.
How to get to Mount Gahinga.
Getting to Mount Gahinga From Kampala/Entebbe
The distance between Kampala and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is approximately 483 kilometers. Kisoro town is reached after 8 to 10 hours of traveling on a well-paved asphalt road. An alternate and quicker path is to arrive in Kigali, Rwanda, and then travel to Uganda.
Driving time from Queen Elizabeth National Park is 3 hours, whereas driving time from Lake Mburo National Park is 6 hours. Some hikers may choose to fly from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airport all the way to Kisoro and then hire a car to the park to avoid long road travels. You’d need to find a place to stay for the night while you prepare for the climb the next day.
Getting to Mount Gahinga From Kigali.
The distance between Kigali and Volcanoes National Park is approximately 104 kilometers taking approximately 3 hours to drive.
In Summary, you can combine your Mount Gahinga hiking safari with other activities like birding, nature walks, gorilla trekking, and golden monkey trekking to say but the least.