Mount Sabinyo is one of the Virunga Mountain volcanoes with others being Mount Gahinga, Muhabura, Karisimbi, Bisoke, Mikeno, Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira.
Mount Sabinyo is one of the Virunga Mountain volcanoes with others being Mount Gahinga, Muhabura, Karisimbi, Bisoke, Mikeno, Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira. Sabinyo is the most spectacular and interesting of all the Virunga Volcanoes. It is a dormant volcano standing at an elevation of 3645m ASL. Uganda’s share of Mount Sabinyo is in Mgahinga Gorillas National Park. Just like some of the other Virunga mountain ranges, Sabinyo is shared by 3 countries; Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.
Sabinyo used to be a symmetrical shaped volcano but got torn apart by the violent explosions that left it with narrow ridges, deep canyons and steep faces. Also time has eroded Sabinyo’s jagged summit leaving it appear like an old man’s teeth when viewed at a distance. Sabinyo is a local Kinya-rwanda word meaning old man’s teeth. You will see an old man smiling at you when you view Sabinyo from afar.
Hiking Mount Sabinyo is only possible from the Uganda side, thanks to the Mgahinga Park authorities that established handmade ladders which are used to navigate through difficult areas of the trail! It has many ridges, rugged slopes and craters on its sides which have partly rendered its navigation from the Congelese and Rwanda sides impossible. Sabinyo has 5 peaks but it’s only the 3 that can be reached by the hikers. The real Sabinyo volcano hiking experience. Sabinyo has the most strenuous but yet rewarding hike of all the 3 volcanoes in Mgahinga Park. The 14km hike to all its 3 summits takes approximately 8-9 hours – round trip. The hiker is rewarded with very spectacular views of other Virunga volcanoes, Bwindi forests, farmlands and hills of Rwanda, among others.
The trek starts off at a very gentle and almost flat terrain through an ever muddy trail (irrespective of the season (wet/dry). The early ascent is through bushy and grassy areas with fresh air and flowery scents. The grassland is succeeded with the bamboo zone, rain forest zone, the heather zone and the Afromontane zone, in that order. The bamboo and rain forest zones are great habitats for wildlife found in Mgahinga Park. Though rare, Golden monkeys, Gorillas, forest elephants, buffaloes can be spotted in these zones. However, you won’t miss spotting hoof prints for elephants, buffaloes, duikers, among others. This will give you an assurance that these big fierce animals are camping somewhere within the area so be cautioned not to move ahead of your armed ranger guide for safety purposes. Birds too call these areas home and most common in the deep forest area is the great Rwenzori Turaco, a bird endemic to the Albertine rift.
After about 2hrs 30minutes, you will reach the first peak which is at an elevation of 3380m. The only word at this point will be spectacular! You have magnificent views of Rwanda hills and farm lands, the giant lobelias and groundsels right where you are standing and a whole lot of flowery plants. You are actually energised and feel able to conquer the remaining part upto the summit. This is however the most difficult part of the Sabinyo hike. It will lead you to the summit via the second Peak. Peak 2 stands at 3540m and it takes about 30 minutes from Peak 1. The most challenging is the last one to the summit, very steep and entirely on stairways almost.
When finally at the summit, it is no longer a myth but a reality that one can be in 3 countries at the same time. Here you are in Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. You can decide to use each of your feet to step in a different country at that particular time. A unique and beautiful experience of the Sabinyo hike! The views of Lake Kivu in Rwanda, the deserted/forested areas of Congo, 6 of the Virunga Volcanoes, Lake Bunyonyi, Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda and a lot more are not only beautiful but breath taking too.
You are to start on the ascent down through the same track as the upward ascent. You can not stay for as much time as you may wish because afternoons are known to have some showers which may turn your marvellous trek into something else as the ladders may end up to be too slippery and the ground very muddy. Also when the clouds and mist set in, clear visibility becomes almost impossible.
What you need to know about Mount Sabinyo Hike.
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