Mount Gahinga Hike
Mount Gahinga Hike is one of the easiest hiking experiences that you will ever have if you decide to embark on a hiking safari to Uganda or Rwanda. One does not need to be an experienced hiker in order to conquer Mount Gahinga.
Mount Gahinga derives its name from the Kinyarwanda/Rufumbira word “Gahinga” which means “a pile of stones.” The mountain is lies on the border between Uganda and Rwanda; it is one of the dormant volcanoes in the Virunga Volcano Massif which stretches from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Rwanda and Uganda.
Standing at 3,474 meters above sea level, Mount Gahinga lies between Mount Sabyinyo and Mount Muhabura. It is the smallest of the three volcanoes and also the easiest to climb. It is also from this mountain that Mgahinga National Park in Uganda derives its name.
Hiking Mount Gahinga in Uganda or Rwanda.
Visitors who wish to hike Mount Gahinga in Uganda will have to do it from Mgahinga Gorilla National Park; while those who wish to hike the mountain from Rwanda will have to do it from Volcanoes National Park.
It takes approximately six hours to climb to the summit and descend the mountain which means visitors can always climb Mount Gahinga in a day and probably do another activity, like a community cultural tour, later in the evening.
There are a lot of attractions in both national parks that you see during your hike up the mountain such as primates like; golden monkeys, vervet monkeys, baboons and the black & white colobus monkeys to mention but a few. If you’re lucky, you might encounter the rare mountain gorillas during your hike to the mountain summit.
You can also view other wildlife species in either park during your hike such as; forest elephants, antelopes, forest buffaloes, warthogs, duikers and so many more. The Mount Gahinga hike is also a good opportunity to do bird watching in either Mgahinga national park on the Ugandan side or Volcanoes National Park on the Rwandan side.
For birding enthusiasts, there quite a number of bird species that you can spot during your hiking expedition on Mount Gahinga- and these include; bronze sunbirds, dusky turtle dove, olive woodpeckers, double collared sunbirds, Rwenzori batis, the speckled mouse bird, olive pigeons, paradise fly catchers, olive thrush, and the regal sunbirds to mention but a few.
Hiking expeditions on Mount Gahinga start at exactly 7:00am whether you are doing the hike from Uganda or Rwanda. All 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 hike starts.
How much does it cost to hike Mount Gahinga from Uganda or Rwanda?
Hiking Mount Gahinga from Mgahinga Gorilla national park in Uganda costs USD 80 dollars per person for non-foreign residents, USD 70 for foreign residents and UGX 50,000 shillings for East African Citizens. The fee is charged per day and includes park entry fees. However, the fee doesn’t include porter fees and tent for those who wish to spend a night on the mountain.
In Rwanda, a hiking permit to Mount Gahinga costs USD 75 dollars inclusive of park entry fees to Volcanoes National Park. The charged fee doesn’t include porter fees, food, cook, tent and gratuities.
What to pack for your hike on Mount Gahinga.
When planning to hike Mount Gahinga from either Uganda or Rwanda, you should the following necessary items; a good pair of hiking boots/shoes, water bottle, a pair of long trousers and long sleeved shirt, a warm cardigan/sweater, packed lunch/snack, binoculars, and a light rain coat for in case it rains while you are on the mountain. Usually the park provides hikers with walking sticks for the hike but you can always carry your own if you wish. In addition to this, don’t forget to carry your camera with your and extra batteries in order to capture the beautiful sceneries and wildlife in the park.
In case you need a porter to carry your luggage during hike, you can always a hire one at the park headquarters in Kinigi if you are hiking Mount Gahinga from Volcanoes national park in Rwanda; or Ntebeko at Mgahinga Gorilla national park in Uganda.
Other activities you can combine with your Mount Gahinga Hike.
There are a number of activities that you can combine with your hike on Mount Gahinga such as gorilla trekking and golden monkey trekking in either national park. Also, you can opt to do the Batwa Trail Experience in Mgahinga national park in Uganda or Iby’iwacu Cultural Village in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda.
Getting to Mount Gahinga.
If you are hiking Mount Gahinga from Uganda, you will have to travel to Mgahinga Gorilla national park. The national park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda in Kisoro district. The park is located approximately 494 kilometers from Kampala via Mbarara. It’s about an 8 hours’ drive to the park. Alternatively, you can also fly to Mgahinga national park from Kajjansi in Kampala or Entebbe International Airport. Scheduled flights to the park take between one to two hours depending on the routing.
Hiking Mount Gahinga from Rwanda will require you to travel to Volcanoes National Park, located in Ruhengeri which is just a 20 minute drive from Musanze town. The park is a 2 hour drive from the capital, Kigali. You can also travel to the national park from Uganda using the Cyanika border which will take between 30 minutes to an hour’s drive. Akagera Aviation offers chartered flights to the park.