Virunga Mountains are actually a chain of volcanoes found in East Africa shared by DR.Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. They are sometimes called the Mufumbiro Mountains running perpendicular to famous rift valley where Lake Edward and Lake Kivu lie.
There are 8 Volcanoes Mountains in this chain, 6 of these are the center but dormant. Mikeno located in Congo and Sabyinyo are the oldest, they have disappeared craters and jagged relief as a result of erosion. Later on during the Pleistocene which is between 900,000 to 130,000 years back, Karisimbi, Muhabura, Visoke and Mgahinga were formed. Karisimbi has a crater at the peak and so does Muhavura but Muhavura’s is filled with water forming a crater lake. So many years later, Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira craters were formed along the west side of the ranges in Congo. Nyiragongo is the biggest of those two, covering about 1.2 km across with a large liquid lava pool.
Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira are very active volcanoes and the latest eruption from Nyiragongo happened in 2002. The lava field of these two volcanoes has remained active, with notable eruptions like the one that happened in 2002 which produced large amount of lava. On many occasions Nyiragongo’s lava flows all the way up to Lake Kivu shores for instance in 2002,the lava flow unfortunately destroyed so many things from the close-by city called Goma and so left lots of people without homes.
These Virunga Mountains are outstanding; they are clearly visible high above the densely populated plateaus. The surrounding places are occupied by mostly the Rwandese cultivators and cattle keepers. On the Congo side, the mountain ranges are in the southern part of Virunga National Park, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park occupies the most of the central areas of the ranges and also the Uganda’s Gorilla National Parks- Mgahinga occupies the Eastern side of the ranges.
The conservation protects not only the mountains and their alpine vegetation but also the different wildlife that is found within those forests like the golden monkey as well as those popular mountain gorillas. While mountain gorilla tracking is a very common tourist activity done in areas surrounding these mountains, there is also hiking which is a really interesting activity. Hikers often go for Mount Bisoke, Karisimbi, muhabura, sabyinyo, Nyiragongo, Gahinga, among others which means the choice is always yours depending on your physical fitness and the time you wish to spend hiking.
Hiking requires physical fitness but with the variety of choices presented to you, it should not be hard to choose. You can opt for Mount Karisimbi hike, Karisimbi is located in both Rwanda and Congo, it is the highest lying at 4507 Metres high, Mount Mikeno is in DR.Congo at 4437Metres high, Mount Muhabura in Rwanda and Uganda is 4127 metres high up, Mount Bisoke is both in Rwanda and Congo and it is 3711 Meters high. Mount Sabyinyo is shared by Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, it is 3674 Metres high, Mount Gahinga hike can be done from both Uganda and Rwanda, it is 3474 Meters high, then there is the famous mount Nyiragongo located in DR.Congo and it is 3470 Meters and the last one being Mount Nyamuragira also in Congo is as high as 3058 Meters therefore the shortest of all the mountains.
Virunga mountain ranges are the places to a less tiresome mountain hike in East Africa. The hike exposes you to the different wildlife, vegetation and amazing sceneries.