E.Africa’s Virunga Volcanoes: The Mufumbiro Mountains

The Mufumbiro Mountains are three of the Virunga volcanoes that are found in Uganda. The virunga volcanoes are volcanoes found across the border of Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. In Uganda they are called the Mufumbiro Mountains and are found in south western Uganda along the border of Uganda with Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. virunga5Mufumbiro Mountains in the local language means “mountains that cook”. The locals refer to these volcanoes as the mountains that cook because of the active volcanoes in DRC that erupt from time to time.

There are 8 volcanoes in all. Two of them, Nyiragongo and Mount Nyamuragira, are found in Democratic republic of Congo, and are the ones that are still active. You can see them spewing lava from kisoro on lake Mutanda and Nkuringo. It is such an awesome sight, especially at night.

In Uganda, there are three of them. These are all extinct and are found within Mgahinga gorilla national park in the south western part of the country- the Mufumbiro Mountains.

Whether they be active or dormant, the Virunga volcanoes are simply magnificent and such an amazing sight to behold.

The Mufumbiro Mountains:

Mount Muhavura:

Mount Muhavura is a tall mountain with an altitude of about 4,127meters above sea level. It is sometimes called Mount Muhabura which means guide. It is a cone shaped volcano and is taller than the other two volcanoes on the Ugandan side of the border. A Muhavura climbing trip takes about 8 hours. It is a day trip and you can climb up to about 6km up the mountain. As you climb up muhavura you will get some very beautiful and amazing views of the volcanoes, Lake George and Lake Edward in queen Elizabeth national park, the Rwenzori Mountains, and the Bwindi impenetrable forest. The scenery from the muhavura is simply breathtaking.

sabinyo5Mount Sabinyo

Mount Sabinyo is the third volcano on the Uganda side of the border. It has an elevation of3645 meters above sea level. The name Sabinyo refers to “old man’s teeth. The mountain is named so because like an old man’s teeth, the top of the mountain is jagged and has been eroded by time and elements. Mount Sabinyo is the most challenging to climb. You need to be in good physical condition to enjoy the climb up these peaks. As you climb you will cut across various vegetation belts and in some places you’ll have to climb a ladder as you venture further up. At the top of mount Sabinyo you can step into Congo or Rwanda, no passport or visa required. You will basically have access to three countries all at once without needing any documents or paper work.

The round trip up and down mount Sabinyo can take about 8 hours. After climbing the three peaks and making it safely back down, you just might want to do it all over again.

Mount Gahinga:

Mount Gahinga rises to 3,474 meters above sea level. A climb up Mount Gahinga takes up to about 6 hours.

The name Gahinga means “a pile of stones” and you will surely find piles of stones in the gardens and farms at the foot of the mountain. Mount Gahinga might not be a small stones, but standing next to Muhavura it can be considered small.

gahingaThe best thing about mount Gahinga is that it is located inside Mgahinga gorilla national park, so you can combine your volcano climbing trip with a gorilla trekking expedition.

Climbing any of the Mufumbiro Mountains amazingly takes a single day. Each of the volcanoes is a day climb of about 6-8 hours. You do not to need to carry overnight supplies such as pots and pans, food or tents. Neither do you need porters to carry your luggage. So you can take three days and climb all three mountains during your Uganda safari. Uganda has so much to offer as a tourist destination and the mountains that cook are some of what it has to offer. The afro montane vegetation that you will see and the views of the other volcanoes and the surrounding areas and parks will be well worth the climb.

A mountain climbing trip can be easily arranged together with other activities such as chimpanzee or gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable forest or Mgahinga gorilla national park. You just have to let your tour operator know of your preferences and when you would like to do what and appropriate arrangements will be made.