Mountain Bisoke (3711m) is a dormant volcano situated in the north of Rwanda on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is part of a chain of lush volcanoes of the Virunga mountain range that spans three neighbouring central African countries of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Five of the eight major Virunga volcano mountains are shared on the Rwandan side in Volcanoes National Park – Rwanda’s prime tourist destination.
‘Bisoke’ is a local term that translates to ‘soaked with water’, which the locals aptly named this mountain because of two beautiful crater lakes on it, a massive one at the summit and another one almost halfway to summit on the eastern side.
This mountain, like all the other dormant Virunga volcanoes, is one of the few in the whole world that have vegetation cover from the base to the top. The vegetation zones range from Hagenia, in the lower areas, through sub-alpine, to alpine towards the top.
A lot of wildlife occurs along Bisoke volcano, the biggest highlight being the endangered Mountain Gorillas! You also find the beautiful Golden Monkeys, which, like the Mountain Gorillas, are endangered and unique to the Albertine Rift, a region which is shared by the three countries. The Golden Monkeys keep in the lower areas of the volcano feeding on the bamboo shoots and other vegetation. Big game such as Forest Elephants and Buffaloes too inhabit the mountain but these are very elusive. The volcano is also rich in forest birds of which include lots of Albertine Rift endemics.
Activities in Bisoke
- Hiking – Bisoke offers one of the best hiking experiences filled with magnificent views of the lush mountains, possible encounters with the Mountain Gorillas, Golden Monkeys and lots of other unique wildlife. There are three main hiking trails, one that leads to the Crater Lake at the summit, another to the side crater lake, and one that leads to the Karisoke Research Centre and the Dian Fossey tomb.
- Mountain Gorilla trekking – Mountain Bisoke harbours at least two habituated Mountain Gorilla groups which are available for the popular trekking adventure.