Exploring The Hiking Destinations in Rwanda
The magnificent landscapes, tropical climate, and incredible wildlife make the most remarkable hiking destinations in Rwanda. The best hiking experiences are in the western half of the country, stretching from Volcanoes National Park in the north, along the edges of Lake Kivu, and down to Nyungwe National Park in the south.
In the same region lies a range of six extinct and three active volcanoes forming the Virunga Mountains spanning from 2,400m to 4,507m altitude. The best of hiking in Rwanda occurs in Volcanoes National Park, which protects the Rwandan sector, with the other mountain slopes falling on the side of Uganda and the DRC.
Hiking trails in and around Volcanoes National Park
Although Volcanoes is most famous for gorilla trekking, there is plenty of beautiful hiking scenery. However, all hiking in the park is guided and requires an entrance permit.
The shortest hiking trail in the park is to Lake Ngezi, a scenic little lake nestled at the foot of Mount Bisoke’s volcanic depression. It’s a scenic walk with a relatively easy hike that usually takes about three hours round trip. If you’re considering hiking up to the summit of Mount Bisoke, a crater lake awaits at the top at 3,800m and can take about 6-10 hours to complete.
Mount Karisimbi, frequently showing a white-capped cloud, is the highest peak in Rwanda at 4,507m. It is one of the most strenuous and rewarding hiking destinations in Rwanda.
Hiking Mount Karisimbi takes about two days, with camping along the way. Because Karisimbi is mountain gorilla territory, you may encounter them and other primates if you’re very fortunate. It is also a great birding trail.
At about 2,800 meters, Mount Kabuye is the single-standing tallest mountain in Rwanda. Hiking Kabuye does not require a permit to ascend, meaning it’s totally free to hike, and you can do it yourself.
Hiking Kabuye, you walk through cultivated farmland and meet friendly locals and barefoot children who often join you with loud chants. It is an effortless hike in Eucalyptus woods coming from the nearby Ruhengeri town, the closest town to both Volcanoes National Park and Mount Kabuye.
Karisoke Research Center
Karisoke Research Centre is located in the saddle area between Mount Bisoke and Mount Karisimbi. The site is a pioneer in gorilla conservation, founded by Dian Fossey in 1967, and it is also the site for her grave.
Many travelers that come to Rwanda include the Karisoke hiking trail on their trip to get first-hand experience with the legendary Dain Fossey. The hike up and down takes about two hours, with an hour drive between the headquarters.
Mount Muhubura is a full-day demanding hike up to 4,157 meters. It is one of the most scenic hiking destinations in Rwanda, with viewpoints of twin lakes, Burera and Ruhondo. You can also reach one of the lakes’ viewpoints by car, so don’t expect to be alone; hire a boat for a scenic lake cruise.
Buhanga Sacred Forest
Buhanga Sacred Forest is an important place for Rwandan Culture. Rwandans respect Buhanga (a place for creation) as the place where all their kings were crowned in historical times.
On a Buhnaga hike, you visit the cave where these historical coronation ceremonies were held. The trail is distinctive, with volcanic rock-paved paths meandering through tall, ancient ficus trees with massive trunks.
Spare a whole day for hiking in the forest and have plenty of time to soak up its spirituality, spot rare orchids, butterflies, and other exotic species.
Hiking Congo Nile Trail
The Congo Nile Trail lies along Lake Kivu and is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Rwanda with cyclists and hikers. The trail traverses rainforests, bamboo forests, and vast cultivated fields. It takes about 10 days to hike the 227-km trail from one end to the other, but you can also do it in smaller sections.
The Congo Nile Trail is a perfect hiking spot to immerse yourself in local traditions, villages, and Rwandan remote communities. You can visit a historic church, swim, paddle on the lakeshore, or sip coffee from the source.
The trail winds through coffee-washing stations, tea plantations, towns, villages, beaches, caves, waterfalls, valleys, and breathtaking vistas. The Congo Nile hiking Trail offers some of the most exciting hiking, with the highest peak reaching 2,630 meters.
The trail is well established with facilities like campsites, guesthouses, and shops for refreshments along the route, so no worrying about these things.
Hiking Trails in Nyungwe Forest
Nyungwe National Park’s mountainous landscape has an extensive network of scenic hiking trails for both amateurs and experienced hikers.
Igishigishigi Trail (Canopy Walk)
Igishigishigi Trail is an excellent choice for novices, especially many that come for the gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda. The comfortable 2.1-km trail with incredible views from the Canopy Walkways and colorful wildflowers takes about 2-3 hours or even more to complete.
The Karamba Trail, flanked by huge fern trees, is one of the best birding spots in Rwanda. It is also relatively easy to hike, meandering through markets, an army camp, and a deserted gold mine.
The Umoyove Trail (aka Mahogany Trail) is a relaxed hike through Nyungwe’s tallest trees to a tranquil waterfall. The trail provides access to several small trails for chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe, so you may see the chimps if you’re very fortunate.
This trail takes hikers through steep rainforest ravines, verdant tea fields, and the biggest scenic waterfall in Nyungwe National Park.
The Kamiranzo trail features Nyungwe’s largest wetland, an ancient swamp, and luminous waterfalls; water enthusiasts will love this trail.
Walking on Rukuzi trail is an exhilarating hike with outstanding chimpanzee spotting locations. You also go through incredible views of Banda Village, from where children’s voices carry up the mountainside.
Other interesting hiking trails in Nyungwe
Other hiking trails in Nyungwe National Park with incredible scenery and feel include Muzimu Trail, Ngabwe Trail, Umugote Trail, Uwinka Trail, Irebero Trail, Imaraga Trail, Bigugu Trail.
Planning a Rwanda Hiking Safari
Rwanda packs a remarkable variety of natural magnificence, from mist-shrouded volcanoes to dense rainforests infested with some of the world’s renowned endangered species like mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, and chimpanzees.
Exploring Hiking Destinations in Rwanda is one of the most rewarding African safaris that offers you an incredible hour with mountain gorillas. Encounter Africa can organize such a trip for you with no hustle involved.
We book your permits, accommodation and plan your transfers with you ticking off what makes you comfortable. Send us an email at email@example.com to talk to a local consultant at no obligation.