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Every true mountain climber dreams of travelling to the African continent, where some of the world’s most exciting mountain and volcano climbing excursions happen. This is especially true for the eastern African nation of Rwanda. Rwanda is home to some of the best hiking experiences in the world, and one of these is Mount Karisimbi.

Mount Karisimbi Facts

Before you can hike Rwanda’s Mount Karisimbi, you should know what you’re getting into first. You can start doing your research right here by reading up on these Mount Karisimbi facts:

  • Mount Karisimbi is located in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and borders the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Mount Karisimbi is part of the Virunga Mountain range and is the tallest volcano within this range
  • The word “Karisimbi” literally means “white shell”, named after the snow on the summit that can be found there from June to August
  • The area surrounding Karisimbi is home to several species of primates, including gorillas and chimpanzees. Gorilla Safaris in Africa are extremely popular but more expensive than hiking Mount Karisimbi
  • The summit of Karisimbi reaches 4,506 meters

The Basic Itinerary for Hiking Mount Karisimbi

Now that you know a bit about this mountain volcano, you can decide whether or not hiking it is for you. A major perk of Mount Karisimbi is that most people can complete the hike, even if you are not an avid hiker all year round. Of course, if you are in the worst shape of your life this hike might be strenuous, but if you put your mind to it chances are you’ll make it to the top.

A hike to the top of Mount Karisimbi takes about 2 days and you’ll have a ranger guiding you along the way. On Day 1 of the hike, you’ll meet your guide and fellow hikers early in the day, usually around 7 am. The first day involves hiking for 6 hours and then resting for the evening at an elevation of 3,700 meters. It is important not to complete the hike in one day since your body needs to acclimate to the elevation changes.

Day 2 is a bit more strenuous. Even though it does not require a lot of time, the high altitude can make things more challenging. You’ll get an early start in the morning and hike for a couple of hours before reaching the summit at 4,506 meters. Then you’ll start making your way back down and reach your starting point at the end of Day 2.

Packing list for climbing Mount Karisimbi

[The key to preparing for a hike like Mount Karisimbi is to pack light and only bring the necessities. Remember that you aren’t trying to impress anyone, so there is no need for makeup, fancy clothes, or those adorable suede boots of yours. You’ll be able to leave some of your baggage with the tour agency or back at your hotel, so there is really no need for anything other than a daypack with the necessities.

There aren’t just things you shouldn’t bring, but also items that are an absolute must and should be remembered by every hiker of Mount Karisimbi. Wear a comfortable pair of waterproof hiking boots, preferably ones that have been broken in long before this excursion. You also need a hiking permit which must be obtained at least 2 days before you start your way up the mountain.

The permit costs about $400 but is completely worth it.

Always, always, always consider the time of year you are planning your hike. Remember what we said about snowcapped mountain peaks from June to August? Bring a few warm clothing items if you are heading to Rwanda during these months. Pack extra waterproof rain protection when visiting during the rainy season.

The Best Time of Year to Hike Mount Karisimbi

Based on the typical weather trends of Rwanda, the best time of year to climb Mount Karisimbi is from January to March or July to October. These months offer the most comfortable conditions and there is very little chance of rain.

How to Prepare before climbing Mount Karisimbi

If you have the determination and a bit of stamina, you should be able to complete this hike and make it to the summit on the second day. However, you do need to be in relatively good health and have a bit of endurance to finish. Due to the high elevation, breathing can become more difficult, so heavy smokers tend to struggle.

Just because you don’t think you can make it to the top does not mean you can’t enjoy other aspects of Rwanda. As one of the best countries in the world for gorilla and chimpanzee trekking, you’ll have plenty of outdoor activities to keep you entertained. There are also plenty of hiking opportunities and easy trails suitable for all travellers.

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Friday 29th of April 2022

Karisimbi is on my bucketlist soon. I have hiked all the 3 mountains on the Ugandan side though

Ivan Taremwa

Saturday 21st of August 2021

Have hiked Mt Sabinyo and Gahinga in Uganda. Cant wait to try hiking Mt Karisimbi


Friday 31st of July 2020


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