Mount Mikeno is one of the 8 Virunga volcanoes located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the mountain is the third highest of the second highest of the Volcanoes at an elevation of 4,437 meters above sea level after Mount Karasimbi which the highest.
The name Mikeno is derived from a local word to mean “poor” this is because of its harsh slopes that hinder human settlement. Mikeno is one of the oldest of the volcanoes dating back to Pleistocene Epoch. Mount Mikeno is the highest mountain in Congo and the 13th highest in Africa.
Virunga national park where Mikeno borders Uganda and Rwanda covering 7,800 kilometers squared established in 1925 making it the oldest national park in Africa. 7 of the Virunga volcanoes are within Virunga national park borders.
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 28years and they climbed to five fake peaks before reaching the real peak.
Climbing Mount Mikeno
Mount Mikeno is one of the toughest to climb among the Virunga volcanoes but the reward is worth trying, the views at the summit are so breathtaking as you clearly see the great East African rift valley.
Hiking to the summit starts from Bukima patrol post and taking four hours to Kabara campsite which is the burial place of Akeley Carl who died of fever while hiking the mountain in 1926. It’s sad because the grave is in pieces after being desecrated by unknown people probably looking for gold. They believed that the nature photographer and conservationist was buried with gold.
This day takes you to the summit of Mount Mikeno, taking about 4 hours. However, most climbers don’t reach here. They stop at the Kabara campsite because of the tough terrain and altitude sickness. Climbing mount Mikeno needs very experienced hikers.
Mount Mikeno flanks are home to the world’s endangered mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking is the most done activity at Virunga national park. Gorilla permits in Congo cost only $400 and entitle tourists to observe a particular group for one hour. A maximum of only 8 people will be allowed to trek mountain gorillas and children under the age of 15 years cannot be allowed to visit mountain gorillas.
Virunga national park is not only home to mount Mikeno and mountain gorillas but its also home to various wildlife 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 so much more.
Virunga national park is home to over 706 species of birds. Some of the birds in the park are; 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 of June to September and December to February. During this time you can easily see mountain gorillas and there are higher chances of no 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
Tourists visiting Virunga national park can sleep 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 easily be reached from Kigali Rwanda. Tourists can fly into Kigali Rwanda and then drive to the border within 3 hours by road.
When planning to hike mount Mikeno you should carry good hiking boots, raincoats, warm clothing, packed lunch, energy snacks, insect repellents, sunscreen; hats, sunglasses and other things you might need. Tourists can also hire porters to help them carry their backpacks at a lower price.