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  Pico del Teide
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| Karisimbi from the southwest
(photo by Robert E. Ford)

Karisimbi
    14787 ft (4507 m)     Highest point in Rwanda .
Location: Virunga Mountains, Congo-Rwanda border
Lat / Long: 1.5° S, 29.5° E
Volcanic Type: Stratovolcano
Volcanic Status: Dormant
First Ascent: Berthelmy, 1903
First Ski Descent:
Skiable Vertical: ?



The Virunga Mountains are the finest chain of volcanoes in Africa, a compact group of eight major volcanoes along with numerous minor ones straddling the three-way border junction of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda. The range is most famous as the home of the mountain gorilla, and it is protected in three national parks, Parc National des Virunga (in Congo), Parc National des Volcans (in Rwanda), and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (in Uganda). Karisimbi is the highest of the volcanoes at nearly 15000 ft (4500 m), followed closely by Mikeno and Muhavura each at over 13000 ft (4000 m). Karisimbi is a complex stratovolcano near the middle of the range which still retains a symmetrical form despite over 10000 years of inactivity, while Mikeno is a very old, eroded and extinct spire of bare rock just to north. Muhavura is a youthful, symmetrical cone which anchors the eastern end of the Virunga range. Snow occasionally falls on the high peaks of the Virunga, even sometimes as low as 11000 ft (3400 m), although it rarely accumulates to any depth. In fact, the name Karisimbi means "the white shell" in the local Kinyuruanda language, a reference to its occasionally snow-capped appearance. Under the best of circumstances, it may be possible to ski at least a short run on Karisimbi (or perhaps even Mikeno or Muhavura), although this remains only conjecture for now.


| Sketch map of the Virunga Mountains
    <click to enlarge>
Some useful links:  

    Peakware - Virunga Mountains (mountaineering info)
    www.berggorilla.de (mountain gorilla info for Parc National des Volcans,
            Parc National des Virunga, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park,
    Congonline: Le Parc National des Virunga (general info)
    Uganda Travel Planner: Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (general info)
    Uganda Tourist Board: Mgahinga National Park (general info)
   

More photos and info about routes, access, etc. may be added in the future ...


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Amar Andalkar   Seattle, WA, USA   <About the Author / Contact Me>
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