Mountain Hiking in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda
Mountain hiking in both Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda offers you beautiful scenes as you take established trails. Most of the hiking happens in protected areas but with other opportunities outside protected areas. In Uganda hiking for multi-day trips is done in Rwenzori Mountains National Park and Mt Elgon National Park. In Kenya, Mt, Kenya, Mt. Longonot, Hells Gate National Park. The Virunga Volcanoes in both Uganda and Rwanda offer mainly 1 day hike except for Karisimbi Volcano. Other locations throughout Uganda offer short hiking opportunities especially the Sipi falls and Mt. Longonot in Kenya.
The Rwenzori Mountains are Africa’s highest mountain ranges, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Uganda. They form a natural border between Uganda and DR Congo with the highest peak being Margherita on Mt Stanley at 5109m above sea level, which is snow-capped throughout the year. It is the third highest peak in Africa after Kilimanjaro and Mt Kenya. Most hikers find it challenging but offering great views and scenery than the two highest peaks in Africa. The round trip takes anything from 6 days to 8 days or more for a slower hiker.
Hiking Mt Elgon provides opportunities to explore water falls and caves created by moving lava. You cross through different vegetation cover whose characteristics are dictated by altitude and rainfall. Mt Elgon has the world’s largest caldera and its highest peak is at Wagagai standing at 4,321m.
The Virunga’s are a chain of 8 Volcanoes located in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. Some are found within borders of one country while others are shared between two countries. Sabyinyo is the only Volcano shared between the three countries with its biggest portion in Uganda.
Mount Muhabura lies at 4127 m and is the highest peak in this park. The name means “The Guide” in the local language. The top has a clear lake about 36 m wide and provides panoramic views into Rwanda and Uganda with amazing photographic moments. The hike takes about 8 hour’s round trip covering 12 km.
Mount Sabinyo lies at 3660 m with the second highest peak in the park. The name translated from the local language ‘Old Man’s Teeth’, because of the rugged summit divided by deep gorges. A climb up the mountain to the peak involves walking a ridge with striking drops into gorges in Rwanda and Uganda with the final hike having ladders. Once at the top you will be in Rwanda, the DR Congo, and Uganda at the same time. The journey takes about eight hours round-trip to cover the 14 km stretch.
Mount Gahinga lies at 3474 m a.s.l and is the smallest of the Virunga Volcanoes. The name translated from the local language means “Small Pile of Rocks”. A hike takes you about six hours round-trip, going through a pure Bamboo forest. Mt Gahinga once had a Crater Lake on top but it since transformed into a lush swamp.
Mount Bisoke has a beautiful crater lake at the top, which makes hiking this volcano a rewarding adventure. The round trip hike of Mt Bisoke takes about 6 hours. Expect beautiful scenery and exotic bird species as you hike up towards the peak at 3711 m high.
Mt Karisimbi is the highest of the Virunga volcanoes at 4507 m above sea level and fifth highest in Africa. It is along the Rwanda and DR Congo border on the western rift valley. It derives its name from ‘amasimbi’ which means “white shell” in Kinyarwanda because of the white-capped summit due to hail and sleet accumulating. The Karisimbi hike is strenuous but rewarding taking two days for the total journey. You have chances of sighting birds, several primates including gorillas on rare occasions and remarkable scenery.
Mount Longonot is a stratovolcano located southeast of Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya, Africa. It is thought to have last erupted in the 1860s. Its name is derived from the Maasai word Oloonong’ot, meaning “mountains of many spurs” or “steep ridges”. Mount Longonot is protected by Kenya Wildlife Service as part of Mount Longonot National Park. A 3.1 km trail runs from the park entrance up to the crater rim, and continues in a 7.2 km loop encircling the crater. The whole tour of 13.5 km takes about 4–5 hours allowing for necessary rest breaks – parts of the trail are heavily eroded and very steep. The gate elevation is around 2150 m and the peak at 2780 m but following the jagged rim involves substantially more than the 630 m vertical difference.
Mt. Kenya is an imposing extinct volcano dominating the landscape of the Kenyan Highlands, East of the Rift Valley. Mt. Kenya lies about 140 km North, North-East of Nairobi with its Northern flanks across the Equator. The mountain has two main peaks – Batian (5200m) and Nelion (5188m). The mountains slopes are cloaked in forest, bamboo, scrub and moorland giving way on the high central peaks to rock, ice and snow. Mt. Kenya is an important water catchments area, supplying the Tana and Northern Ewaso Nyiro Systems.
The park includes a variety of habitats ranging from higher forest, bamboo, alpine moorlands, glaciers, tarns and glacial morains.
The park, which was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997 and is also a Biosphere Reserve, covers 715 km², and includes the Peaks consisting of all the ground above 3200m with two small salients extending lower down to 2450m along the Sirimon and Naro Moru tracks. Surrounding the park is Mount Kenya National Reserve with an area of approximately 2095 km².