The Virunga volcanoe mountain region, also called the "ibirunga" in Kinyarwanda or the Virunga massif comprises of the most unique and adventurous mountain ranges with magnificent sceneries extending over 8000 square KM along the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo border, northwest of Rwanda and southwest of Uganda in East - central Africa and part of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift.

The Virunga region comprises of 8 major volcanoe ranges located in the area between Lake Edward and Lake Kivu near the great East African rift valley. The 8 volcanic ranges in this region include Mount Karisimbi the highest at 4,507 metres, followed by Mount Mikeno at 4437 metres, Mount Muhabura at 4,127 metres, Mount Bisoke at 3711 metres, Mount Sabyinyo at 36711 metres, Mount Gahinga at 3470 metres, Mount Nyiragongo at 3470 metres and lastly Nyamurangira at 3,058 metres.

Volcanoes in the Virunga Mountain Region

Name Location Elevation (Metres) Status Starting Point
Mount Karisimbi Rwanda & Congo 4,507 Domant Kinigi Volcanoes National Park
Mount Bisoke Rwanda & D R Congo 3,711 M Dormant Kinigi Volcanoes National Park
Mount Muhabura Rwanda & Uganda 4,127 M Dormant Kisoro, Mgahinga National Park
Mount Sabyinyo Rwanda & D R Congo & Uganda 3674 M Dormant Kinigi Volcanoes / Kisori Mgahinga
Mount Mikeno D R Congo 4,437 M Dormant Virunga National Park
Mount Gahinga Rwanda & Uganda 3,474 M Dormant Kisoro, Mgahinga National Park
Mount Nyamurangira D R Congo 3058 M Active Virunga National Park
Mount Nyiragongo D R Congo 3,470 M Active Virunga National park

Useful Information

How to Get there
The easiest access to the volcano sites is on Rwandan side but can be accessed from Uganda - Kisoro district. The volcanoes can be hiked from Volcanoes national park Rwanda, Musanze province with head offices at Kinigi. It's about two hours drive from Kigali and its possible to use public means to access Musanze. READ MORE
The Virunga Volcanoe region is home to quite a number of biodiversity with over 86 mammal species of which 34 are large mammals, 18 endemic species and 6 critically threatened species which if not well conserved can suffer extinction. Highlighted specie in this region is the half of the world's remaining critically endangered mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) and endangered golden monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis kandti).

Other mammal species which are found in this region include the blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis), African Golden cat (Carcal aurata), black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus nigrifrons), black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus nigrifrons), spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), side-stripped jackal (Canis adustus), elephant (Loxondata africana) and a lot more. This region is home to 250 species of birds recorded. READ MORE
National Parks
The Virunga volcanic region has 3 major national parks and quite a number of smaller forest eco systems. National parks include Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda (163 km2) managed by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB); the Mikeno sector of the southern part of Virunga National Park (DRC; 254 km2) run by the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (Uganda; 38 km2) managed and run by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). READ MORE
Hiking Tips
  • Carry a tent or a camp for overnight
  • Hire a porter to help carry your backpack and watch out for you.
  • Carry overnight accessories like a sleeping bag, worm clothes
  • Carry overnight Food, which can be prepared up the mountain hand gloves and water proof pants and coats
  • Good hiking shoes and a walking stick
  • Heavy jackets, sweaters, hats

Virunga Gorilla Tourism

The Virunga region comprises of half the total mountain gorilla population distributed within the 3 national parks of Uganda Rwanda & Congo with Volcanoes national park Rwanda having the highest number of gorillas with 10 habituated gorilla groups available for tracking by visitors, Virunga national park comprises of 6 gorilla groups and Mgahinga with the least number of gorillas with just one gorilla group. In Rwanda's Volcanoes national park, has 80 gorilla permits available on a single day accepting only 8 people to go watch a single gorilla family. Virunga national park has 6 habituated gorilla families with 48 gorillas passes available for visitors on a single day while Mgahinga national park as 1 gorilla group with just 8 gorilla permits on a single day. READ MORE
map of Virunga mountains