Hike Mount Gahinga
Hiking Mount Gahinga in Rwanda is one of those adventure thrilling activities that you don’t want to miss out on especially if you are a passionate hiker. Mountain enthusiasts can also climb Gahinga Mountain from Uganda. The mountain is one of the dormant volcanoes situated within the Virunga ranges. It lies on the border between Uganda and Rwanda.
Mount Gahinga is also referred to as Mount Mgahinga on the Ugandan side. This mountain lies between two other mountains in the Virunga Volcano Massif namely; Muhabura and Sabyinyo mountains. It is also the smallest of the three mountains, standing at an altitude of 3,474 meters above sea level.
Climbing Mount Gahinga can be done from either Volcanoes national park in Rwanda or Mgahinga Gorilla national park in Uganda. The mountain derives its name ‘Gahinga’ from a local Kinyarwanda word which means ‘a pile of stones.’
Tourists hiking Mount Gahinga have a lot of stunning attractions to see on the mountain such as bamboo forests, monkey species like golden monkeys. Lucky hikers can come in to contact with the highly sought species of endangered mountain gorillas. The highlight of any hiking expedition on Mount Gahinga is its caldera which is about 180 meters wide.
Hiking expeditions on Mount Gahinga take hikers through the mountain’s stunning afro-montane vegetation that comprises bamboo as the main vegetation. Hikers can also spot beautiful bird species on the mountain such as; bronze sunbirds, dusky turtle dove, olive woodpeckers, double collared sunbirds, Rwenzori batis, the speckled mouse bird, olive pigeons, paradise fly catchers, olive thrush, regal sunbirds and so many more.
Climbing Mount Gahinga is much easier as compared to Mount Sabyinyo and Mount Muhavura. Hiking expeditions on the mountain take about 6 hours to reach the summit and descend the mountain. Hiking Mount Gahinga does not require one to be an experienced mountain climber nor have prior knowledge of mountain climbing. Any visitor who is in good shape, both physically and mentally, can climb Mount Gahinga.
During the hiking, hikers have an opportunity of encountering different primate species at the base of the mountain and along the slopes. Some of the primates encountered include, golden Monkeys, mountain gorillas, blue monkeys, baboons, and Vervet monkeys, like black and white Colobus monkeys. There are also some mammals which include Leopards, elephants, antelopes, hyenas, warthogs, and buffaloes among others.
Hiking Mount Gahinga in Uganda or Rwanda commences at exactly 7:00am every morning. Hikers have to be at the office for a briefing regarding the hiking trails, all the relevant information about the park which includes; the mountains with in Virunga mountain ranges, the formation of the volcanic mountains, the wildlife to encounter during the hike, and ranger allocation before the actual hiking activity starts.\
Requirements for hiking Mount Gahinga in Rwanda or Uganda.
Mountain hiking or climbing in general is a tiring adventure that requires proper preparations in advance in order to enjoy the experience. Travelers planning to climb Mount Gahinga should consider packing a few essentials that are required for the hiking expedition, and they include;
Book a hiking permit: Currently a permit to hike mount Gahinga goes for USD 75 in Rwanda and USD 80 in Uganda and it is important to book it in advance plier to the hike.
Physical fitness: For any hiking activity, it requires that a hiker be fit both physically and mentally since it requires really longer trails and a lot of energy to reach to the top. Descending the mountain on the other hand is easy although it may prove to be a little tricky as the trails can be slippery as you slope down the mountain.
Good hiking attire: Travelers need to acquire the proper hiking attire which includes; light hiking shoes easy to climb up, both light and warm clothing. The light clothes helps in climbing due to heat over the horizon while the warm sweater is appropriate as you might need it while at the top of the mountain since the higher you go, the cooler it becomes. So appropriate attire will enable the hiker to fit in any weather condition. Do not forget to pack a cap, sun glasses and sun screen to protect the body from direct heat.
Hiking stick: These are always provided at the head office on the hiking day. But some hiker can decide to pack their own hiking sticks.
A porter: It is always crucial for travelers hiking Mount Gahinga to hire a porter at the park’s headquarters in Kinigi before starting the hike. Porters are very important not only for carrying the back pack but also to offer a pull or a push where need be and trust me you will thank God for their presence.
Enough drinking water is very essential for hikers to avoid dehydration during the climb.
Other activities you can do besides hiking Mount Gahinga.
Aside from hiking Mount Gahinga from either Uganda or Rwanda, visitors can take part in other activities such as; gorilla trekking in Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda or from Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, golden monkey tracking, caving, guided forest walks and community cultural tours among others.
How to get to Mount Gahinga.
Visitors planning to climb Mount Gahinga in Rwanda need to first get to Volcanoes National Park which is about a 2 hours’ drive from Kigali city. Travelers can fly into Kigali International Airport and then drive to the park’s headquarters that are located in Kinigi.
If you are planning to hike Mount Gahinga from Uganda, you can travel by road from Kampala city. The mountain can be hiked from Mgahinga Gorilla national park. The national park is located about 15 kilometers south of Kisoro town, and about 55 kilometers west of Kabale district. Visitors can also access the park from Kampala city, which is located approximately 494km using the Kabale- Mbarara road. Visitors travelling from Kampala will have to drive for about 8½ hours to reach the national park.
Conclusion: Whether you choose to hike Mount Gahinga from Uganda or Rwanda isn’t much of a big deal. You will still get to have the best experience your lifetime as your explore the beautiful scenery in the different countries.