Hiking Mount Mikeno in the Virunga
Mount Mikeno is an extinct volcanic mountain, with the second highest peak among the Virunga Massif after Karisimbi. It stands at an altitude of 4,437m (14,557ft) hence regarded as the 13th tallest mountain in Africa. This volcano is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo and wholly lies within the Virunga National Park hence the home of the Mountain Gorillas in this park, they reside of the mountain slopes.
It is neighbored by other volcanoes like Mt Nyiragongo, Mt Bisoke, Mt Karisimbi, and Mt Nyamulagira. Mount Mikeno is located about 5.5km northwest of Mt Karisimbi close to the Rwandan border. The name “Mikeno” is a local word that means “poor” hence the volcano was named this because of its tough slopes; these have precluded human settlement.
Hiking Mount Mikeno is also not that easy just as it is for Mount Karisimbi, this mountain was first climbed in 1932 by a skilled technical climber known as W.J. Gashoff Van der Meesch, and later in 2011 climbing it was resumed at a higher rate.
The volcano is covered by lush forests and various numbers of wildlife species are found here such as Gorillas, chimpanzees, different monkey species like the colobus, baboons can also be spotted as well as an array of birds. Since Mt Mikeno lies in the park also other animals like the forest elephants, hippos, lions and warthogs can be seen.
The Hike-Mount Mikeno
The starting point of hiking is from Virunga National Pak. It takes approximately 6 hours to hike Mount Mikeno, it is a rewarding experience, and on its top is a spectacular lava lake. During your hike to the summit, you will have a chance of spotting various things around like the vegetation zones, waterfalls, and coffee plantations among others.
In case don’t have a hiking gear you can hire one from Mikeno Lodge. You can also plan to trek gorillas in the park. At the summit of Mikeno all you have to yourself are great and amazing views of the Great Western Rift Valley, take as many photos as you want.
Getting to Mount Mikeno
Though located entirely in DR Congo; it can be based accessed from Kigali, Rwanda. It is approximately a 3hours drive from Rwanda’s capital, Kigali to here, you can hire a taxicab from Kigali at $100 to get to this border. Another option can be flying into Goma using local airlines.
It’s an hour’s drive from Goma town located north of Kivu, within the forest is Mikeno lodge which is a place of comfort with spectacular views, it’s where you can relax from during your trip.
When to hike Mikeno
January, July and also August are regarded as the finest months to hike. Other times for the lucky ones the months June, September can be okay months for hiking. Even during the dry seasons there are always showers of rain during the afternoon, hence it’s advisable to start hiking early enough, carry your rain gear.
Due to the altitude, temperatures are ideal throughout the year
What to carry
Ensure you have your yellow fever card certificate because it is required whether you are entering DR Congo or Rwanda.
Carry enough water, warm clothes, hats, sturdy shoes, comfortable trousers and shirts, rain coat, food or snacks, gloves, sweaters, among other things.
Please note that;
To be given access to DR Congo and gaining a VISA you are required to present your tour itinerary, the individual travelers (solo backpackers) are not allowed hence you are advised to book your trip through travel agents.
To hike Mount Mikeno requires you to be in good health and physically fit. You can also book for gorilla tracking in Virunga Park and all you need a tracking permit which costs $400 per person.