Muhabura Mountain, also known as Muhavura is one of the 8 Virunga volcanoes located in the great lakes region, astride borders of Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo. Bigger part of this extinct volcano lies in south western Uganda in Kisoro district and a smaller part in Bulera district, Rwanda. Mount Muhabura stands at an elevation of 4,127m above sea level making it the 3rd highest of all the eight volcanoes in the Virunga region and the highest among the two other volcanoes which it neighbors, namely Sabyinyo and Gahinga.
The name Muhabura in the local Kinyarwanda dialect means “Guide” connected to the historical use of the mountain to aid mobility with its augite rocks that can be seen from distant areas. In Rwanda, the mountain covers some parts of Volcanoes national park while in Uganda, it overlooks Mgahinga gorilla national park. The two protected areas are great hubs of the endangered mountain gorillas.
Mount Muhabura does not only boasts its towering height, but a lot more amazing features which differentiates it from other Virunga volcanoes. Its smoky slopes form one of those picturesque views every photographer longs to capture. Mount Muhabura’s epic beauty goes beyond visual and imagination, one ought to experience it firsthand.
Hiking Mount Muhabura
This extinct volcano provides an array of adventurous experiences, with the major one being a hike to its towering peak. Muhabura provides the best hiking experience in Uganda and one of the most adored in East Africa and world over. A hike to Muhabura’s summit begins as early as 7:30am from Mgahinga national park headquarters, Ntebeko, after a simple briefing.
The climb lasts for about eight hours to reach the peak of this mountain where you are eventually rewarded with scenic views of the entire Virunga massif and conservation area, and vivid views of Bwindi impenetrable forest, Lake Edward, the Rwenzori ranges.
Muhabura’s summit clearly presents admirable views of all the other seven volcanoes as well as Rwanda’s most adored twin lakes – Bulera and Ruhondo. Close to Muhabura’s peak is characterized with dry vegetation which is not the case with other ranges in the Virunga region, where the giant heather grows which is why it commonly thrives on the slopes of volcanoes national park.
On the way up, you walk through boggy and slippery trails as it rains quite often and unexpectedly. As you approach the peak, you encounter small crater ponds as well as pockets of swamps in the saddles of the volcanoes that retain water all year throughout. The mountain’s wide expansive slopes are marked with thickets and thick shrubs which are broad spanned plants that look like Yucca.
The slopes of Mt Muhabura are quite steep and may require average physical fitness. Hiking typically takes 8 hours – a full day and it is highly recommended that climbers should get the porters (hired at 10$-15$ averagely) to help carry the heavy luggage (bags and hiking materials) and offering a hand of help whenever the hike gets tough.
Hikers are required to carry strong hiking shoes, rain jackets / coats, head caps, packed lunch / snacks and drinks and a stick (provided by the park). The trails are usually foggy in the mountains, muddy and slippery since this area receives rainfall anytime of the day.
Hiking Muhabura Mountain can sometimes be strenuous especially during rainy seasons, but the joy of conquering the top and unequaled views of the surroundings is worth all the hard work.
It feels great walking through the beautiful varying terrains that often look like a desert, viewing at the open slopes; you see a beautiful cover of thick shrubs and thickets of evergreen plants.