Striding across a tri-boundary point, across Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo, this rather extinct volcano offers magnificent hiking opportunities not only in East Africa but also the entire continent of Africa.
Mount Sabyinyo stands tall towering to an elevation of 3,645 meters (11,959 ft.), above sea level, making it the second tallest among the 3 neighboring volcanoes near Mgahinga national park in Uganda. It offers extreme adventure experiences and a perfect choice for those travelers seeking for typical mountaineering adventure.
This mountain most importantly neighbors 3 magnificent national parks that are also part of the larger Virunga conservation area; these include- Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Mgahinga Gorilla National park in Uganda and the Virunga National park in D.R. Congo.
Mount Sabyinyo is part of the 8 volcanoes that form greater Virunga massif, a conservation area known to be a hub of the endangered mountain gorillas. This Virunga massif spans across Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo. The word “Sabyinyo” literally means “the old man’s teeth” representing its irregular shape and rugged slopes that clearly depict the shape of an old man’s teeth.
This volcano has up to 3 peaks—each representing a different stage of difficulty, however, because of its rugged nature, wooden ladders have been constructed along the hiking trail to ease the hike.
Hiking Mount Sabyinyo
Mount Sabyinyo is a hiker’s paradise and for anyone in love with pure adventure, this is the right spot. Hiking mount Sabyinyo can take about 10-12 hours, both ascent and descent though this squarely relies on the climber’s speed and energy. A typical hiking day begins by 7:30am at the base of the mountain after a simple briefing by the hiking guides. Ready with climbing gears, plenty of drinking water and food/snacks, ready to take on the amazing adventure.
The first section of the climb is entirely a moderate steep hike through a swampy area and later pass amidst a rainforest up until the first peak. On this lower peak, take a break with memorable photos, a sip of water and a bite on your snacks and thereafter resume the ascent.
This part of the climb is interesting as you start ascending along the teeth of Sabyinyo’s knife-edged ridge. The hike here is so steep but thanks to the wooden ladders offering support. The views from this point are purely exhilarating and all worth the efforts of making such a steep climb.
From here, you aim for the next peak which will also present unequalled views, and after a break you continue to the last highest peak. From 3,645m above sea level, you will realize that Sabyinyo is not as massive as you thought! At this point, you’ll realize that you are standing amidst 3 distinct countries; an unforgettable feeling of a lifetime!
The pure wilderness, picturesque green patch of the Virunga ranges, all surrounded by pockets of human settlement and their terraced gardens stretching to the horizon. This Virunga conservation area is undoubtedly an island refuge for endangered flora and fauna species with patches of human settlement lapping at its shores.
From Sabyinyo’s peak, the views of the shimmering Lake Kivu in Rwanda come so clearly, plus the island-dotted Lake Bunyonyi, Rwenzori jagged mountains, and all the other seven Virunga volcanoes, plus many other countless features. Hiking mount Sabyinyo costs only 80$ per person and the permit can even be purchased on arrival. This cost includes a mountain guide, but doesn’t include climbing gear, food and porters (hired upon arrival at 10-15$).
Getting to Mount Sabyinyo (By Road & Air)
Mount Sabyinyo can be easily accessed through the Ugandan side; whether you cross from Kigali or travel from Kampala, the mountain can be reached easily via Mgahinga national park. From Kampala, it is an 8 hour drive via Kampala – Masaka – Mbarara – Kisoro route. The mountain is 14km out of Kisoro town. A route from Kigali – Rwanda is the shortest, taking only 2 hours via Cyanika border.
A charter / scheduled flight can be arranged from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airstrip in Kampala to Kisoro airstrip and drive for 30 minutes to the base of the mountain.