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Virunga mountains

Virunga Mountains

Virunga mountains

Virunga Mountains is located in the East Africa with a chain of volcanoes that are within the borders of the countries Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. The mountain range is said to be a part of the Albertine Rift located in the Great Rift Valley.

Virunga is an English derived word from its origin word “ibirunga”(comes from  Kinyarwanda dialect)  which literally means “mountains”.

The Virunga region comprises of 8 major volcano ranges located in the area between Lake Edward and Lake Kivu near the great East African rift valley. The 8 volcanic ranges in this region include Mount Karisimbi the highest at 4,507 metres, followed by Mount Mikeno at 4437 metres, Mount Muhabura at 4,127 metres, Mount Bisoke at 3711 metres, Mount Sabyinyo at 36711 metres, Mount Gahinga at 3470 metres, Mount Nyiragongo at 3470 metres and lastly Nyamurangira at 3,058 metres.

It is also said that the mountain gorillas are endangered that is why the Mgahinga gorilla national park are protecting them and preventing them to be extinct. There are three active volcanoes till now and others are now extinct and dead.

The tallest mountain that you can find in the Virunga Mountain range is the mountain Karisimbi which is 4,507 meters and 3,000 meters tall. The surroundings of the mountains are covered with bamboo forest and mountain forest.

The shape of the volcanoes is mostly individually coned than a normal mountain range. The names of its volcanoes are the names that describe their geological characteristics which resembles things such as Mount Sabyinyo as “old man’s teeth” which depicted as the physical appearance of the mountain that looks like a tooth.

Before arriving in the mountain range, the traveling time will take about 6 hours and it will be a very tiring day. You should bring enough food and water. The recreational activities that you can do in the place is hiking and walking around the mountain and exploring its beautiful sceneries which are worth every shot from your camera.

Best Time To Visit Hike Virunga mountains

Many travelers always look for the best time to hike Virunga mountains. Yes, these volcanoes can be hiked throughout the year however the best time for climbing is during the dry season that runs from December to Mid-March and from mid-June to September. During this period, the temperatures are bearable compared to wet season. More so, on top of the volcano, there is less mist during the dry season hence giving clearer views into the lava crater.

The average temperature at the summit of these Virunga mountains range between 10°C to 30°C with the lowest being 8°C while the maximum is 31°C.

What To Pack For Virunga mountains Hike?

Travelers interested in hiking Virunga mountains are advised to pack and carry the following items to make their trip successful;

A sleeping bag: This is highly advised especially as you sleep on the thin mattresses provided in the huts at the summit. Those without sleeping bags, the park improvises but strongly recommend to carry your own.

Warm Clothing: Just like any other mountain hiking safari in Africa, you need to pack some warm clothes to be used while at the summit of Virunga mountains  such as Nyiragongo volcano. The temperatures on this mountain vary from warm on the lower slopes to the very cold at the summit. Therefore, please do not be misguided by the fact that there is an active lava lake on the peak and you assume that the temperatures are warm up there. Failure to carry warm clothes, you will experience very cold nights throughout your stay at the summit. Remember that the higher you go, the cooler it becomes.

Change of clothes: The destination in located in the tropical region of Africa and receive ample rainfall throughout the year. Like any other part of the world, it can rain any day and any time, therefore, you need to carry extra changing clothes to cater for emergencies like getting wet from rain and mist in the forest.  Those traveling during the wet season from March to May and again in November, you are highly advised to pack a change of clothes.

Good hiking boots: Pack comfortable and strong hiking shoes to offer adequate ankle support considering that the terrain on the mountain is rocky, steep and uneven

Enough Drinking water: Endeavor to pack enough drinking water before starting your trail to the top of the mountain in order to keep your body well hydrated.

Prescription for altitude sickness:  Hikers should get proper prescription for Diamox to deal with altitude sickness.

Other things to carry include; a yellow fever vaccination card, a torch, portable charger, backpack, camera and binoculars, hat and sunscreen.