Mount Muhabura an extinct volcano found at the border of Rwanda and Uganda and among one of the famous Virunga ranges straddling within three countries that is Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo, the mountains are also home to the remaining number of worlds mountain gorillas.
Mount Muhabura is the 3rd highest of the eight volcanoes with an elevation of 4,127 meters above sea level, the name Muhabura or Muhavura as its refereed sometimes is derived from a local Kinyarwanda word to mean “the Sentinel”. And in Uganda, it means “the guide”.
Mount Muhabura is one of the steepest and hardest to climb among the Virunga volcanic mountains, the mountain boasts with a beautiful crater at the summit which is about 400 meters providing spectacular views of the two twin lakes of Ruhondo and Burera.
There are three resting points while climbing mount Muhabura the first at 3,116 meters above sea level, second at 3855 meters and the final one at the summit at 4,127 meters above sea level. The vegetation at the top of mount Muhabura is also always drier compared to the rest of the park.
What to do / Activities
The bamboo vegetation at the slopes of Mount Muhabura is home to mountain gorillas which can trek in volcanoes national park in Rwanda or Mgahinga national park in Uganda, the habituated Nyakagezi gorilla family in Mgahinga national park can trek at only $600 and you can trek any family in volcanoes at $1500, when planning to trek gorillas tourists should always endeavour to acquire permits earlier in both countries especially in the dry season as they can be scarce due to high demand.
Trekking golden monkeys should be one of the activities you shouldn’t miss when hiking mount Muhabura, the mountain has the highest concentration of golden monkeys in the world numbering from 3000-4000 in Mgahinga national park in Uganda. Golden monkey groups can make even up to 80 individuals they also love their photos to be taken with flash cameras, unlike gorillas.
Most of the birds seen in mount Muhabura are endemic to the Albertine region so there are higher chances of seeing similar birds when climbing from Rwanda or Uganda, some of the birds you can see on the hike include; Ruwenzori turaco, chaplyns flycatcher, Grauers wabler, spur winged lapwing, African fish eagle, speckled mousebirds, alpine, whydah; blue-headed coucal, Kivu ground thrush and black kite to mention a few.
Tourists climbing mount Muhabura will need to have packed lunch, water, waterproof hiking boots, warm clothing, raincoats, garden gloves, energy snacks, insect repellents, sunscreens, socks and many other things you might need.
Porters are always 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 always depend on your baggage but not more than $25.
Climbing mount Muhabura costs $80 per person. This requires tourists who are physically fit. The hike takes only 5-6 hours depending on the speed of the climber. Hiking starts after a briefing at the park headquarters at 7:00 am in the morning.
Getting There / Location
Mount Muhabura can be reached within 10 hours drive from Kampala and Volcanoes national park can be reached in 3-4 hours drive from Kigali. The easiest is flying into Rwanda then travel to Volcanoes national park to hike mount Muhabura but if you are more adventurous then the Ugandan side is favorable.
The best time to visit mount Muhabura is in the dry season from June to September and December to February this is because the mountain is steeper than the highest which is Karasimbi and the trails can get very muddy and slippery in the wet season making your experience hard though it should be noted that weather can be unpredictable it can rain anytime but in the dry season the sky always clears up and the sun shines after a downpour.
While visiting Mount Muhabura, tourists can sleep in mount Gahinga lodge, Travellers rest hotel in Kisoro, Amajambere iwachu community camp that’s if you will hike from the Ugandan side, tourists hiking from volcanoes national park can sleep in best view hotel, five volcanoes boutique hotel, Sabinyo Silverback lodge, mountain gorillas nest lodge, and Da Vinci gorilla lodge among the rest, Where to sleep will depend on the tourists budget and choice.
When climbing from the Ugandan side, tourists can clear from Ntebeko visitors center at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and at Kinigi park headquarters while climbing from Rwanda.