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Hiking Mount Bisoke is an adventurous activity provided at Volcanoes National Park in the northern province of Rwanda. The dormant 3,711 meter high Mount Bisoke is one of the 8 Volcanoes that make up the Virunga massif and sits along the Rwanda border, with the Democratic Republic of Congo where it is referred to as “Mount Visoke”.

Climbers hiking Mountain Bisoke in Rwanda
Climbers hiking Mountain Bisoke in Rwanda

This Mountain’s Crater-filled Peak is found in Rwanda and it is one of the reasons why many visitors to Volcanoes National Park always look forward to hiking it and experiencing its breathtaking slopes. There are two Crater Lakes on Mount Bisoke, one (Lake Ngezi) being about 100 meters deep and 11 kilometers from the peak, while the second one measuring 400 meters in diameter sits right on the summit.

The name “Bisoke” means “soaked with water” in the local Kinyarwanda dialect, thanks to the stunning Lakes. This Volcano has a beautiful conic shape and is blanketed in verdant vegetation from its base to the summit, and the vegetation types/zones change according to altitude. You will see a little Bamboo forest at 2,800 meters above sea level, Hagenia Hypericum from 2800 meters to 3200 meters above sea level, and sub-alpine zone at the top.

Lots of wildlife species (including mountain gorillas) can be sighted within the forested areas along the lower slopes of Mount Bisoke. There are also golden monkeys, forest elephants, duikers, forest buffaloes, and numerous bird species including Albertine Rift endemics can be sighted while hiking Mount Bisoke.

How Mount Bisoke hiking adventures are done

Hiking Mount Bisoke can be done in one day (6 hours to be precise), whereby 4 hours are used for ascending to the peak of this stunning Volcano (but this also depends on the pace of hiking and prevailing weather conditions) and 2 hours are used for descending to the base of the mountain. Fitness is important for hiking Mount Bisoke and interestingly, seasoned hikers can even take a shorter time to hike this stunning Volcano.

Cost of Mount Bisoke Hiking permits

Hiking Mount Bisoke requires a permit which costs $75 per person per trek for International/foreign visitors, $60 per person per trek for foreign residents in Rwanda, $65 per person per trek for East African foreign residents, and $55 per person per trek for East African Community Citizens.

Besides Mount Bisoke, Mount Karisimbi can also be hiked from Volcanoes National Park. Other adventures to enjoy in this stunning Protected Area include mountain gorilla tracking, golden monkey tracking, the Dian Fossey Gravesite Hike, guided forest walks, and bird watching.

What to Wear/Carry for the Hike

The crucial items for a successful Mount Bisoke Hike include enough drinking water and energy-giving snacks, comfortable and sturdy hiking boots, a warm sweater for cold mornings and evenings, a breathtaking and lightweight rain jacket, comfortable safari pants in neutral colors, long-sleeved shirt/s, gardening gloves, a backpack, a camera for taking photos and videos during your Hike, a pair of binoculars for sighting small and further creatures in Volcanoes National Park, and a first aid kit. On the day of hiking, make sure to get a walking stick (which is usually provided free of charge at the Park Headquarters).

When is the best time for hiking Mount Bisoke?

You can hike Mount Bisoke all year round, but if you choose the dry season (June to September and December to February) you should expect drier, less muddy/slippery trails hence less challenging hikes. Hiking Mount Bisoke during the wet months (March to May, and October to November) provides a more challenging experience because trails are more muddy and slippery. However, it is important to be prepared for anything.

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