October 31, 2018

Written by professional adventurer, Peter van Kets

When we (the Beyond the Rift Valley Expedition team) set out team set out to climb two of the most exquisite Vocanoes in Africa, Bisoke and Karisimbi, we were not expecting to be immersed in such Avatar like beauty. At the same time, it became quickly apparent that we would need the proper kit to withstand the vigour of both climbs. 

Let’s look at my favourite volcano of the two. Rising at an elevation of about 4507m above sea level is MT. Karisimbi, is the highest of the eight major volcanoes of the Virunga field and the highest in Africa. It strides magnificently along the border between Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda on the western branch of the African Rift valley. The name Karisimbi is derived from the word ‘amasimbi’ in Kinyarwanda which means “white shell”, referring to the white-capped summit which is often seen on top of this volcano. It is flanked by Mikeno to the north, Bisoke to the east and Nyiragongo to the west, on the other side of the Rift Valley. The mountain is situated in Volcanoes national park, popularly known for the mountain gorillas, which we going to have an otherworldly encounter with.

Climbing Mt Karisimbi is a strenuous, yet spectacular hike done within Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda. It usually takes two days to climb, but we decided, because of a tight expedition schedule, that we would hike both Bisoke and Karisimbi over two days. After descending Bisoke we hiked to the base of Karisimbi at an altitude of 3,700 metres for overnight camping before finishing off the journey the next day.

A hike to Karisimbi’s summit is not an ordinary one, but also affords sights of several bird varieties, primates like monkeys and Gorillas, and is also known for its exotic plants in its four belts of vegetation, from the dense forest at its base to the barren volcanic core at the summit.

The hike up the summit is characterized of muddy trails especially during rainy season, though due to the altitude, it can rain at any time of the day. Our hike was wet, freezing and misty. This made the tracks excessively muddy meaning we were sometimes knee deep. This is where my most used and favourite Hi-Tec boots TRAIL OX WINTER 200 just excelled over and above expectations. Not only were the boots really comfortable, but after two days of hard wet muddy trekking, they were dry as a bone.  This is one set of Hi-Tec apparel that I would highly recommend to anyone attempting a rigorous wet hike like Karisimbi Volcano.

Find out more from Beyond The Rift Valley here.


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