Mount Gahinga is among the virunga volcanoes but a dormant volcano which last erupted many years ago and it’s as well the smallest of the Virunga Mountains. The mount is located on the border of Uganda and Rwanda. In Rwanda it’s found in the northwest of the country and in Uganda it’s located in the southwest of Uganda in kisoro district. The name Gahinga originated from the local languages spoken within the region that is rufumbira and Kinyarwanda which mean ‘‘pile of stones‘‘. The mountain is elevated at 3,474 meters high with caldera at the peak. The swampy caldera is about 180 meters wide and is also found in the Mufumbira ranges and is one of the 8 chains of mountains that spread across the 3 countries of Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Mount Gahinga is found on the left hand side of mount Muhabura which is the highest mountain of the Virunga Range Mountains and on the right of mount sabinyo as spotted from Uganda. Mount gahinga is a stratovolcano which is believed to be 100,000 years old and it’s the second youngest of the volcanoes.
Mgahinga mountain gorilla national park which is commonly visited for its unique mountain gorillas as well as golden monkey species located on this mountain. The national park acquired its name from the Gahinga Mountain. There are many activities within the park as well as hiking this mountain which is given less attention but a great hiking option. The hike to the peak starts from Ntebeko all around and back. The hike takes 6 to 8 hours of moderate difficulties until you reach the summit of the volcano. The bamboo forest which is 2km stretch along the hike is an amazing and great before you reach the summit with a possible sight of the mountain gorillas at a distance, golden monkeys and the water/ bushbucks. On reaching the summit, you will finally see the 180km swamp at the top with a once Crater Lake point. The nature view is breathtaking and you can have a picnic with great photography at the top.
The hike to the Virunga volcanoes and mount Gahinga inclusive costs 80 USD as an international traveler whereas the east African citizens are charged 50,000 Ugandan shillings to acquire the hiking permit. Before you start the hike it’s important to read and know more about the volcano and what to expect along the way until the summit so as to prepare accordingly.
Hikers are advised to carry light but protective clothes such as long trousers and long sleeved tops so as to avoid irritation from plants and insects that are found along the way. Travelers should have a good pair of hiking shoes so as to make the hiking easy. On long hour hikes, travelers are advised to carry a pair of shoes that have ever been used before and are well versed with to avoid issues like swelling feet or pain. Other essentials include the hiking stick, raincoat and a cap since the weather keeps on changing anytime. You can as well get a porter to carry your bag and also give you more local information about the region as they are well versed with it.
PORTERS; porters can also be good morale boosters as they can chat with you up to the mountain and care for you especially if you are a slow traveler within the big group on the hike. As well they can check if you are physically capable to do the hike or if it’s going to be your first time hiking.
Hiking is a physical activity but refreshing along the way to the summit and back. Therefore tourists can organize a safari to hike Mount Gahinga and see what the mountain offers.