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Scaling Mount Mikeno – A Guide to Tours, Costs, and Permits

Mount Mikeno is one of the 8 Virunga volcanoes located in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The mountain is the third highest, and the second highest of the Volcanoes, with an elevation of 4,437 meters above sea level, following Mount Karisimbi, which is the highest.

The name Mikeno is derived from a local word meaning “poor,” due to its harsh slopes that hinder human settlement.

Mikeno is one of the oldest of the volcanoes, dating back to the Pleistocene Epoch.

Mount Mikeno is the highest mountain in Congo and the 13th highest in Africa.

Scaling Mount Mikeno
The Mount Mikeno Volcano, Congo

Virunga National Park, where Mikeno borders Uganda and Rwanda, covers 7,800 square kilometers and was established in 1925, making it the oldest national park in Africa.

Seven of the Virunga volcanoes are within the borders of Virunga National Park.

Mount Mikeno receives rainfall due to the winds that hit its sides, making its slopes very fertile.

The first solo climber to conquer Mount Mikeno was W.J. Wanshoff Van der Meesch in 1932. Cai Tjeenk Willink, Lewis Mudge, and Pierre Peron climbed Mount Mikeno for the first time in 28 years, scaling five false peaks before reaching the true peak.

Climbing Mount Mikeno is one of the toughest challenges among the Virunga volcanoes, but the reward is worth it, as the views from the summit are breathtaking, offering clear vistas of the great East African Rift Valley.

Campsite 1:

The hike to the summit begins at Bukima patrol post and takes about four hours to reach Kabara campsite.

This campsite is the burial place of Carl Akeley, who died of fever while hiking the mountain in 1926.

Unfortunately, the grave has been desecrated, likely by individuals searching for gold, as it was believed that the nature photographer and conservationist was buried with gold.

Campsite 2:

This day’s journey takes you to the summit of Mount Mikeno, approximately four hours from Campsite 1.

However, most climbers do not reach this point and stop at Kabara campsite due to the challenging terrain and altitude sickness.

Climbing Mount Mikeno requires highly experienced hikers.

Other Virunga volcano mountains include: Mount Bisoke, Mount Karisimbi, Mount Muhabura, Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Gahinga, Mount Nyiragongo and Mount Nyamuragira.

Mountain Gorillas

Discounted Gorilla Permits in Rwanda

Mount Mikeno’s flanks are home to the world’s endangered mountain gorillas, making gorilla trekking a popular activity in Virunga National Park.

Gorilla permits in Congo cost only $400 and allow tourists to observe a specific gorilla group for one hour.

A maximum of only 8 people are allowed to trek mountain gorillas, and children under the age of 15 years are not permitted.

Virunga National Park is not only home to Mount Mikeno and mountain gorillas but also various wildlife, including 128 species of mammals, 78 species of amphibians, 109 species of reptiles, and 22 species of primates.

Some of the animals in Virunga National Park include okapi, forest elephants, leopards, bushbucks, bush pigs, buffalos, hippos, warthogs, and primates like blue monkeys, black and white Columbus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, and more.

Virunga National Park is also home to over 706 species of birds, including Madagascar Bee-eater, yellow-billed barbet, grey-throated barbet, double-toothed barbet, narrow-tailed starling, Ruwenzori Turaco, Kivu ground thrush, and many others.

The best time to visit Mount Mikeno is during the dry season, from June to September and December to February.

During this time, you can easily spot mountain gorillas, and there’s a lower chance of rain, meaning the trails are not muddy and slippery.

Please note that a yellow fever vaccination card will be needed to visit Rwanda and Congo.

Accommodation & Getting There

Camping in Congo
Tchegera Island Camp, Congo

Tourists visiting Virunga National Park can stay in Mikeno Lodge, Virunga Lodge, Bukima tented camp, Tchegera Island tented camp, Kibumba tented camp, Lake Kivu Lodge, Nyiragongo summit shelter, and many others.

Mount Mikeno in Virunga National Park can be easily reached from Kigali, Rwanda.

Tourists can fly into Kigali and then drive to the border within 3 hours by road.

When planning to hike Mount Mikeno, you should bring good hiking boots, raincoats, warm clothing, a packed lunch, energy snacks, insect repellent, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and other necessary items.

Tourists can also hire porters to help them carry their backpacks at a reasonable price.

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