Mount Muhabura, also know as Muhavura Mountain is an extinct volcano found at the border of Rwanda and Uganda.
It is one of the famous Virunga ranges that straddle within three countries: Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo.
These mountains are also home to the remaining population of the world’s mountain gorillas.
Mount Muhabura is the third highest of the eight volcanoes, with an elevation of 4,127 meters above sea level.
The name Muhabura, or Muhavura as it’s sometimes referred to, is derived from a local Kinyarwanda word meaning “the Sentinel” in Rwanda and “the guide” in Uganda.
Mount Muhabura is one of the steepest and most challenging to climb among the Virunga volcanic mountains.
The mountain features a beautiful crater at the summit, which is about 400 meters wide and provides spectacular views of the twin lakes of Ruhondo and Burera.
There are three resting points while climbing Mount Muhabura: the first at 3,116 meters above sea level, the second at 3,855 meters, and the final one at the summit at 4,127 meters above sea level.
The vegetation at the top of Mount Muhabura is typically drier compared to the rest of the park.
Hiking Muhabura Mountain
Mount Muhabura features a small crater at the top, providing breathtaking views of Rwanda’s twin lakes, farmlands, the three Virunga range volcanoes, and more.
You can climb Mount Muhabura from either the Ugandan or Rwandan side.
In Uganda, you will be guided by the Uganda Wildlife Authority at Ntebeko Visitors Center, while in Rwanda, you will need to visit Kinigi Visitors Center.
Ranger guides are available in both countries to assist you during your ascent of the mountain.
There are also porters at the centers whom you can hire to help carry your luggage at an affordable price.
The mountain has steep terrain and typically takes 8 hours for the round trip, including both descending and ascending.
Be sure to bring packed lunch and an adequate supply of drinking water.
The best time for climbing Mount Muhabura is during the dry season, which runs from June to August and December to February.
During these months, the hiking trails are in good condition, and there is a lower chance of encountering rainfall while climbing.
Climbing Muhabura is technically challenging, so make sure to carry all the necessary hiking gear.
Activities – What to do near Mount Muhabura
Trekking Mountain Gorillas: The bamboo vegetation on the slopes of Mount Muhabura is home to mountain gorillas.
You can trek them in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda or Mgahinga National Park in Uganda.
The habituated Nyakagezi gorilla family in Mgahinga National Park can be trekked for $600, and you can trek any family in Volcanoes National Park for $1,500.
It’s essential to acquire permits in advance, especially during the dry season when demand is high.
Golden Monkey Trekking: Don’t miss the opportunity to trek golden monkeys when hiking Mount Muhabura.
The mountain has the highest concentration of golden monkeys in the world, numbering from 3,000 to 4,000 in Mgahinga National Park in Uganda.
Golden monkey groups can consist of up to 80 individuals, and they are relatively comfortable with having their photos taken with flash cameras, unlike gorillas.
Bird Watching: Many of the birds seen on Mount Muhabura are endemic to the Albertine region.
Some of the bird species you can spot during the hike include Ruwenzori turaco, Chaplyns flycatcher, Grauer’s warbler, spur-winged lapwing, African fish eagle, speckled mousebirds, alpine whydah, blue-headed coucal, Kivu ground thrush, and black kite, among others.
Preparation: Tourists climbing Mount Muhabura should pack lunch, water, waterproof hiking boots, warm clothing, raincoats, garden gloves, energy snacks, insect repellents, sunscreen, socks, and other necessary items.
Porters are available at the park’s headquarters in both Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda.
The cost charged by porters will depend on your baggage but should not exceed $25.
Climbing Mount Muhabura costs $80 per person.
This activity is suitable for physically fit tourists and typically takes 5-6 hours, depending on the climber’s speed.
Hiking starts after a briefing at the park headquarters at 7:00 am.
Mount Muhabura can be reached within a 10-hour drive from Kampala.
Volcanoes National Park can be reached in a 3-4 hour drive from Kigali.
The easiest route is to fly into Rwanda and then travel to Volcanoes National Park to hike Mount Muhabura.
However, if you’re more adventurous, the Ugandan side is also favorable.
The best time to visit Mount Muhabura is during the dry season, from June to September and December to February.
The mountain is steeper than the highest peak, Karisimbi, and the trails can become very muddy and slippery in the wet season, making the experience challenging.
While weather can be unpredictable, the dry season usually offers clearer skies and more sunshine after rain.
Accommodation – Where to Stay
Tourists visiting Mount Muhabura can stay at Mount Gahinga Lodge, Travellers Rest Hotel in Kisoro, Amajambere Iwacu Community Camp if hiking from the Ugandan side, or choose from various lodging options if hiking from Volcanoes National Park, such as Best View Hotel, Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel, Sabinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain Gorillas Nest Lodge, and Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge, among others.
Your choice of accommodation will depend on your budget and preferences.
For climbers starting from the Ugandan side, you can obtain clearance from Ntebeko Visitors Center at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
If climbing from Rwanda, clearance can be obtained at Kinigi Park Headquarters.
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