Mount Sabyinyo – Hiking an Extinct Volcano in Africa
Mount Sabyinyo is an extinct volcano in eastern Africa located in the Virunga Mountains. Mount Sabyinyo is the oldest volcano of the range. It is found north-east of Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes and west of Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda.
Mount Sabinyo, 3645m, (also spelled “Sabyinyo”) offers some of the best and most thrilling mountain hiking and climbing experiences in Uganda. A dormant volcano, Mount Sabinyo is among the many rolling volcanoes that make up the splendid Virunga mountain range which runs along the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Whereas the other volcanoes either located in one of the countries or are jointly owned between two countries, Sabinyo lies at a pivotal point where the borders of the 3 countries meet. It is more like the axis of the Virunga range and gives the finest views through the Virungas as one could christen it a 360 degree experience!
In Uganda, Mount Sabinyo is positioned within Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in the southwestern corner of the country in Kisoro district. “Sabinyo” is a local term meaning “old man’s teeth” in reference to its distinctive peak that looks like an old man’s spaced teeth.
Climbing Mount Sabyinyo
Owing to the exceedingly craggy nature of the terrain along Sabinyo’s slopes characterized by several craters with high-pitched ridges, the mountain is impossible to trek in Rwanda and Congo except in Uganda where safe but challenging track that includes creating handmade ladders to support hikers at very sharp sections. Just like the rest of the Virunga volcanoes except the highest, Mount Karisimbi which necessitates 2 days, Sabinyo is a one day trek. The round journey is 8 hours, 4 hours to ascend to the summit and 4 hours to descend to the starting point but depending on the pace, weather and strength of the hikers.
The climbing commences off from the park office after briefings by the ranger guide. There are free walking sticks provided whereas the helping porters are available for hire.
To climb, you walk through the vegetation ranges from the bamboo zone between 2400 – 2800 meters. This section is also a habitat for the Golden Monkeys with which you have an opportunity to spot as you move. Other big animals in the park comprises of Buffaloes, Elephants and Mountain Gorillas though are infrequently seen on the trail. Between 2800 – 3200 metres is an attractive forest patch of Hagenia Hypericum and above 3200 is the Sub-alpine zone with fewer trees. This is a section of the famous Rwenzori Turaco, a spectacular bird which is also prevalent to the Albertine rift region. At the top, you climb to each of the three peaks and have an opportunity to be at the meeting point of the countries (Uganda, Rwanda and Congo) as you enjoy best widespread topographical views!
What to carry for Mount Climbing?
- Rain gear, like rain coat
- Strong hiking shoes
- Hat for warmth
- Garden gloves to protect from cold weather at the summit
- Long-sleeved shirt and trouser to guard against itchy plants such as. stinging nettles
Other Mountains in the Virunga