Virunga Mountains

Virunga Mountains


The Virunga Mountains are a chain of volcanoes in north of Lake Kivu in east-central Africa, extending 80km along the northern border of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, with the highest being Mount Karisimbi at 4,507 metres. The range runs east-west, perpendicular to the rift valley in which lie Lakes Kivu and Edward.

Its coordinates are as follows: 1.4292° S, 29.5483° E.

The Virunga Mountains montane forests are also home to other primates such as Chimpanzees, Golden monkeys, Blue monkeys and black and white colobus. Forest Elephants and Buffalo are also found in this area as is the very shy Golden Cat. Other attractions include includes the Djomba Gorilla Sanctuary, Rutshuru waterfalls


The vegetation types in Virunga Volcanoes are diverse and are divided into different broad types which include the alpine/sub-alpine, Hagenia- Hypericum, mixed forest, bamboo, disturbed woodland, open grassland and swamp.

Virunga National Park

To the south of the mountains is Virunga National park a home to many endangered species including gorillas and chimpanzees and over 400 bird species.

The central area of the park consists mostly of savannah with species such as Lion, Leopard, Kob, Hyena, Topi, warthog etc.

Organized climbs/treks on Virunga Mountains

  • Epic Weekends
  • The primates Adventure co

The Karisoke Research Center

The Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park was founded by Dian Fossey on 24 September 1967, to study endangered mountain gorillas. Fossey located the camp in Rwanda’s Virunga volcanic mountain range, between Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke, and named it by combining the names of the two mountains. The camp continued to function even after Fossey’s murder in December 1985, under the auspices of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

At the time Fossey founded Karisoke, she feared that the mountain gorilla might become extinct by the end of the 20th century, as her mentor, Dr. Louis Leakey, had warned. A census published in 1981 found that the population had fallen to 242 individuals, from a 1960 estimate of 400-500. Now, 45 years later, some 480 mountain gorillas are known to inhabit the Virunga mountains (according to a 2010 census), a significant increase since. The Karisoke Research Center is currently the world’s best hope for the survival of endangered mountain gorillas and their ecologically critical habitat.

Maji ja moto Hot springs

May-ya-moto, also known as Maji ja moto thermal area is located at an altitude of 950 m in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo NW of the Virunga Mountains about 38 km north of the town of Rutschuru. The May-ya-moto thermal area contains fumaroles and hot springs with temperatures of less than 100 degrees Centigrade.


Virunga Mountains is a home to the pygmies with the Twa, a subgroup of the African Pygmies, being slightly larger than most pygmies. The Twa, the earliest settlers of this area, originally lived off the land as hunters and gatherers in the once extensive forests around the Virunga Mountains.


Potatoes, beans, maize, sorghum, yams, cassava are the most widespread crops grown along the mountain slopes. Crop mix varies only slightly according to distance from park, cash crops such as pyrethrum for Rwanda, tea and coffee for Uganda, and vegetables such as leeks and carrots in DRC are grown in localised areas.

Accommodation around the mountain

Hotel/ Lodge Contact
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge Volcanoes National ParkKinigi,Ruhengeri,Rwanda

Tel: +250-788-305-708


Virunga Lodge Lake Bulera,Ruhengeri,Rwanda

Tel:+250 502452

Jack Hanna Guest House


Musanze district


Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge Ruhengeri, Rwanda                                                             Tel:+254 (20) 273 4000 – 5                                             Website:


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