Mount Bisoke is also known as Visoke an active volcano in the Virunga Mountains of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift. It straddles the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the summit is located in Rwanda and it’s approximately 35 km northeast of the town of Goma and adjacent Lake kivu.
Bisoke” is a Swahili word which means, “Soaked with water”, that was coined by the natives regarding to the two beautiful crater lakes that ‘soak’ the volcano. One Crater Lake sits into the volcano peak at 100m deep and 400m of diameter. Another Crater Lake was formed at the sides, almost midway to the top, overlooking the adjacent lush slopes of the Sabinyo Volcano Mountain.
The volcano is green with lush vegetation zones ranging from Hagenia forest, through sub-alpine to alpine. It harbors a number of beautiful wildlife including: flora and fauna many of which are unique to the Virunga ranges and Albertine region. Other primates are Mountain Gorillas and Golden Monkeys with the large mammals for example Forest Elephants, Buffaloes, plus lots of birds inhibit the forest of the volcano.
Bisoke is a peak in the Virunga Mountain Range, and the volcano was created by rift action on the forming divergent boundary of the East African Rift which is slowly bisecting the African plate. The mountain reached a height of 3,711m and its last eruption took place in 1957. Bisoke has the largest crater lake of the range in the volcano area.
At the lower range, hike through Hagenia Forest is ambient, here, you are treated with different species of trees and flowery shrubs with sweet songs of the birds. This part of the trail is relatively easy so far, except that it does get muddy on rainy days. There are also thorny plants to dodge, and ooh…the menacing stinging nettles which itch so much at the slightest contact with the skin.
As you ascend further up the mountain the temperatures drop gradually. Oxygen levels also drop significantly hence you tire faster, and you would need regular rests to acclimatize while you enjoy the magnificent mountain scenery of the Virunga ranges.
Getting to the summit is rewarded with magnificent rare natural beauty – Crater Lake, mountain vegetation & dropping clouds, cloudy peaks of Mountains Karisimbi and Mikeno in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is so beautiful to see and experience!
On sunny days, temperature average about 10c, which give you at least 30mins to even picnic. Temperatures can drop to as low as 2oc on rainy days and you will manage to stay barely 5 minutes. On rainy days, there is also a bad chance of finding the clouds (mist) to have dropped into the Crater Lake that u may not actually see it clearly.
Its location within two national parks, it is by law off-limits to most standard wilderness industries such as logging, farming, or mining. Aside from visitors to the parks searching for gorillas or other wildlife, the peak is popular with mountaineers. It can be hiked for a day from the Rwandan side, and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) leads two-day excursions to it and nearby Mount Karisimbi, the nearest city is Ruhengeri. The hike is considered steep but walkable.