2 Days Bisoke Crater Lake Hike, Mt Visoke Volcano Trek Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park Hiking Tour

bisoke crater lakeThe trek to the Bisoke Crater Lake on the summit of Mt Bisoke/Visoke Volcano is the most popular mountain hiking adventure in Volcanoes National Park and Rwanda. It is a moderate hike which is done within a day. The trek is very rewarding with beautiful scenery and great views of the lush Virungas and Rwanda’s hilly landscape, a cloud experience at the top of the volcano and arguably the most beautiful crater lake of the Virunga ranges – Bisoke Crater Lake. You also get to observe up-close an array of unique mountain wildlife, including a good chance at encountering the endangered Mountain Gorillas and Golden Monkeys.

The hike may present a tough challenge for the non-experienced and first-time hikers but with good fitness preparation and endurance can they conquer the muddy trails, and steep climbs to make it to the Crater Lake within four hours. The experienced hikers will find it an easy feat and probably make it to the summit in 3 hours.

Trip specifications

  • This itinerary focuses on hiking Mt Bisoke to the Crater Lake at the summit
  • Group size: minimum one traveler
  • We have selected lodges basing on their proximity to the park headquarters at Kinigi, great views of the park and the Virunga volcano chain, level of comfort, and high standards of hospitality.
  • Professional tour guide and 4by4 tour car


Day 1: Kigali – Volcanoes National Park

After breakfast, the driver guide shall pick you from the hotel or your residence and travel to the north of Rwanda, driving through the sprawling lush highlands that are iconic of a country that is famously known as the “the land of a thousand hills”. Get to Musanze and transfer to your accommodation situated just outside Volcanoes National Park, overlooking the lush volcano chain. Have lunch and relax away the rest of the day in the comfort of the lodge whilst enjoying the breathtaking mountain scenery and cool weather. Dine and overnight at the lodge.

* Journey time: 3 hours

* Meal plan: Lunch, Dinner

* Accommodation options:

Luxury: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge

Moderate: Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge

Budget: Kinigi Guest House

Day 2: Bisoke Crater Lake Hike, Return to Kigali

Wake up for early breakfast, get packed lunch or a snack from the lodge and transfer to the park headquarters in Kinigi by 7.00am. Register with the office and meet with the assigned ranger guides and the other hiking members. The ranger gives a small talk about the hiking activity and important information about the park. By 8.00am you are getting into the cars and transferring to the starting point of the trek which is about 30 to 45 minutes of drive.

volcano hikingAt the starting point you shall find the porters you can hire for USD 10 to carry your backpack. We absolutely do recommend you hire a porter however light your items may feel because from some point during the trek they will become heavier and heavier for every step u shall take, you tire very fast due to the lessening oxygen. The porters also offer assistance during the trek in form of a push or pull at some of the challenging spots of the trail. You are given a trekking stick and you are good to go! There are also armed soldiers that join you for protection from wild animals in the park such as the Forest Elephants, and Buffaloes, but there is little chance of the encountering these, so it is just-in-case. The starting point is at an elevation of 2700 meters above sea level, walk through the local communities and the farmlands at the edge of the park for about 15 minutes before crossing the stone wall into the park.

Take on the hiking trail and trek through the different vegetation zones along the volcano ranging from a little bamboo that ends at 2800m, through Hagenia Hypericum from 2800 – 3200, to Sub-alpine at the top. During the earlier ascend you may observe some Mountain Gorillas and Golden Monkeys. At least two groups of habituated Mountain Gorillas live in this volcano. However when you find a group you shall be allowed only a minute to watch them minus taking any pictures so as to keep it fair for those that paid for the hefty fee of USD 750 for the Gorilla trek. You shall observe a range of different of unique plants as you cross from one vegetation zone to another. The lower zones possess thick vegetation and softer grounds which pose the bigger challenge due to the mud. There is also an abundance of stinging nettles, plants which itch so much at the slightest contact with your skin. You shall watch out for these! Towards the top the volcano grows naked with less vegetation and terrain is also rocky, which makes the trek less tough. Throughout the trek you shall make occasional stops to rest a bit and take in the magnificent scenery all around. You start to get above the clouds as you approach the summit and move through fog. Finally you get to summit which is flat with a big Crater Lake measuring about 400 meters of diameter and estimated depth of about 100 meters.

mt bisoke crater lakemountain-bisoke-trekThough the volcano is shared between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic Congo, the entire Bisoke summit lies within Rwanda. Due to the large diameter you may not afford enough time to rim the entire Crater Lake to view the other areas of the Virungas, so you can only see the peak of Mt Mikeno Volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo piercing through the clouds and Mt. Karisimbi on the Rwanda – DR Congo boarder.mt-mikeno-congo

The temperatures can drop to 10 degrees Celsius and below, so you only stay a few minutes, say 30. You also get to eat your lunch/snack. Sometimes the weather is bad with a lot of fog and rain during which you may not see the Crater Lake clearly and you cannot stay long.

Embark on the trek back down, a faster one but more slippery. The porters will come in handy. It will take about 2 hours, touch base, meet your driver and leave for Kigali, expecting to arrive in the evening.

* Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch

Trip includes

  • Transport (driver, car, fuel)
  • Accommodation for one night
  • All meals
  • Hiking permit
  • Bottled water

Trip excludes

  • Porter fees
  • Tips
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Luxury drinks eg beers, soda, wines
  • Souvenirs
  • Laundry, phone bill and other personal expenditures

What you need to carry?

  • Hiking boots
  • A rain coat
  • Hiking trousers and long sleeved shirt to protect from the stinging nettles
  • Warm sweater
  • Protective cover for your camera, there are high chances of rain.


At the end of the hiking tour to Mt Bisoke, if you wish to extend your stay in Volcanoes National Park, other exciting activities you can do include Mountain Gorilla Trekking, Golden Monkey Trekking, hike other trails in the park, visit the local communities or tour the Musanze Caves.

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