Mount Sabinyo is an extinct volcano found within the Virunga ranges. Other mountains within the Virunga ranges include Mount Karisimbi, Muhabura, Bisoke, Mikeno, Nyiragongo, Gahinga and Nyamuragira. Mount Sabinyo is separated from its closest neighbor Muhabura by a crater lake which is 20 meters in Diameter. In the local language, Sabinyo means “Old man’s tooth”. This is because its jagged summit looks like worn out teeth when compared to more levelled summits of neighboring mountains. Mount Sabyinyo is 12,037 feet high with a summit that acts as a boundary/border for three countries – Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mountain slopes are home to the endangered mountain gorillas and other animals like elephants, buffaloes and various forest antelopes. Mount Sabinyo offers the most challenging hike among the Virunga Ranges of mountains. It has rugged slopes and craters on the sides which have created many ridges.
Hiking mount Sabinyo can only be done from Uganda at the moment because a route has not been created among the sharp ridges in the Congo and Rwanda side. There are plans by the government of Rwanda to curve a way out through the craters and ridges so that tourists can start the adventure from Rwanda. We have an article about Mount Kilimanjaro that might interest you.
Hiking Mount Sabinyo from Uganda
In Uganda, Mount Sabinyo is located in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Climbing Mount Sabyinyo is one of the best mountain climbing experiences in Uganda. Despite the sharp ridges and crater lakes before the last peak, the Uganda Wildlife Authority managed to solve the problem by building handmade ladders.
Before the hike, one needs to register at the park office, sign the guest book and clear any payments. Hiking Mount Sabinyo begins with briefing. The Guide and Rangers will let you know what to expect, the history of the mountain and what to carry along. If you don’t make it to the summit by 3pm, you are advised to descend back because it would be too late to complete the activity on time. All hikers are given a walking stick – take it like gold. Porters are available for hire for those who have heavy equipment such as cameras. You will be escorted by at least three locals. Apart from the official Guide, an armed ranger is always part of the team to scare away large mammals like elephants that graze on the slopes of the mountain.
After completing the briefing, you will start by being passing through a flat area with several swamps. You then start ascend to an area with a thick vegetation zones for the first 2390 to 2800 meters. This area consists of mainly bamboo and is a favorite habitat of golden monkeys. Apart from the monkeys, you may encounter mountain gorillas, elephants and buffaloes around this area. After the first zone, you will encounter sub-alpine kind of vegetation with fewer trees but home to the rare Rwenzori Turaco. The Rwenzori Turaco is a beautiful bird and a favorite of birders. It is only found within the Albertine rift region. By the time you complete this zone, you can already see the summit ahead.
The beauty about climbing to the summit of Mount Sabinyo is that you get to be in three countries (Uganda, Rwanda and Congo) at the same time while having some of the best views you will ever have – weather permitting. From the summit you can see the beautiful Lake Kivu in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. You can also see Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda, the Rwenzori ranges of mountains in Uganda, over six mountains of the Virunga region and countless other features. Patches of human settlements can also be seen amidst beautiful green plantations and forests. Congo looks relatively deserted while Rwanda is more densely populated. Descending is easier but also challenging. You have to deal with the ladders again and need to do it with care especially if the weather was bad.