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Mount Karisimbi is the highest of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains. It is a huge dome, now dormant, that dominates the range, more in girth than in height. Its name in Kinyarwanda means white shell, which refers to its often white-capped summit. Interestingly, this cap results not from snow but from hail and sleet which accumulate in the higher elevations from its frequent storms. It is located within the Parc National Des Volcans, and many of the volcanoes are connected by good trails.
This stratovolcano is part of a group of volcanoes in the Bufumbira field which is an eastern region of Virunga. The going is quite steep and good navigation is required not only through the lower slopes, but also on the mountain itself. It consists of secondary jungle and in the most gives an earie appearance.
Mount Karisimbi is an inactive volcano in the Virunga Mountains on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Standing tall at 4,507 metres. The name Karisimbi is derived from the world amasimbi in Kinyarwanda which means “white shell” to refer to the white-capped summit which is often seen on top of the mountain.
The climb starts early in the morning and involves navigating through the Bisoke side before reaching the first stopping place at an altitude of 3,700 metres for overnight camping . The next day you wake as early as 5:30AM for your breakfast and early departure. The trail gets steeper, much as the fog closes in and ground gets muddy. The terrain gets tougher here. At about 4,000m, you are above the tree line, the slopes become more exposed and here you need to wear your gloves and hat. After about 2 hours ascent, you start on your last hundreds meters of climbing, walking on volcanic scree. The wind starts getting harder and visibility drops to 25m. Suddenly, you realize you cannot climb t anymore, you are at the summit! The Congolese border is just within a few feet from here. The descent back to the car park takes about 6 hours (including breaks at the camp and the others).
Climbing Mt Karisimbi is a strenuous but adventurous 2-day hike. Between Karisimbi and Bisoke is the Karisoke Research Centre which was founded by Dian Fossey in order to observe the mountain gorillas living in this area.
At the park headquarter, they will provide guides but trekkers should have suitable clothing and equipment. This activity needs to be arranged at least 2 days in advance. Cost is $400 per person and includes the guide but you may need to pay an extra approx. $10 for tent hire. For more than 2 people you pay US$300.