Mountain Mikeno- Virunga conservation area is made up of 8 volcanoes and mount Mikeno is among them. The mountain is located in DR Congo 5.5 km north west of Mount Karisimbi near the border of Rwanda, Mount Mikeno is the second highest Mountain in the Virunga ranges with 4,437 meters after Mount Karisimbi that has 4,.507 meters. Mountain Mikeno is dormant volcano that forms the Virunga ranges together with Mount Karisimbi, Mount Bisoke, Mount Nyamuragira, Mount Nyiragongo, Mount Gahinga, Mount Muhabura and Mount Sabyinyo.
Hiking Mount Mikeno is some hikers dream come true and that’s why every year people visit DR Congo to hike this Mountain although it’s a dormant volcano. The name Mikeno means poor in Kinyarwanda and it was named so because of the steep slopes that even don’t allow human settlement. The Mountain is found within Virunga national park a home to Mountain gorillas and on the slopes of this Mountain are some gorillas that have found their home.
The following are the major tourist activities done at mountain Mikeno in Virunga national park;
Hiking Mount Mikeno: Hiking Mount Mikeno starts with a briefing at Bukima patrol post drivers bring the hikers from their lodges and transfer them to this place for a briefing from the wardens. During the briefing, the hikers are taught about the rules and regulations of the activity, what to expect and the time taken to reach the summit.
The armed ranger guides lead the hikers through the trails that lead them to the summit. During the hike, the rangers do inform the hikers about the history of the mountain and all the necessary information. The hikers are able to encounter different animals around the hiking trails such as mountain gorillas, buffaloes, duikers, monkeys, olive baboons, wild dogs, warthogs, birds, and different vegetation covers.
Hiking Mount Mikeno takes 5-6 hours with stunning views of different things along the way. At the summit of Mount Mikeno you will have views of the surrounding mountains, Lake Kivu, Goma town, plantations, homesteads, and Virunga national park. At the summit of Mount Mikeno, hikers get to rest for some time, enjoy some of their snacks and drinks while having great views before sending that takes 2-3 hours.
Birding on Mount Mikeno: Mount Mikeno is one of the best birding spots in Virunga national park hosting some of the 706 birds that have been recorded in Virunga national park. The birds that can be seen around the areas of mount Mikeno include Rwenzori double collared sunbird, strange weaver, African goshawk, harrier hawk, African hobby, hadeda ibis, grey crowned crane, mountain greenbul, white-browed crombec, yellow white-eye, tropical boubou, black-billed turaco, klaas’s cuckoo, cardinal woodpecker among others.
What to pack for Mount Mikeno?
Some of the things you need not to forget to add into your pack as you plan your Mount Mikeno safari include non-cotton shirts, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, waterproof hiking shoes, a pair of gaiters, garden gloves, rain jacket, backpack, a pair of socks, sleeping back, a hat, headlamp, first aid kit, insect repellents, snacks, sunscreen, drinking water, energy-giving snacks, face mask and sanitizer.
How to get to Mount Mikeno
Getting to Mount Mikeno is very easy when you use Kigali international airport. From Kigali you can drive to Congo – Rwanda border, present your Congo visit visa, yellow fever card, and hiking permit to get allowed into the country. You can as well fly from Kigali international airport to Gisenyi airstrip or Goma international airport where you will be picked up by your driver-guide to the mountain.
Where to stay
There are different places where you can stay when you visit Mount Mikeno in DR Congo, Mikeno lodge one of them located inside Virunga national park, Kikumba Tented Camp, Virunga Lodge, Tchegera Island Tented Camp, and many others. There are also campsites where you can stay on your visit to the park. These accommodation facilities do offer services from luxury to mid-range to budget.
What is the best time to visit Mount Mikeno?
Mount Mikeno can be visited at any time of the year but the best time to visit this mountain is the dry season. The dry season in DR Congo does happen from June to September and December to February. During the dry season, the trekking trails are less muddy, the vegetation is thin giving clear views of the skies, animals, and vegetation, and lastly, the roads leading to the mountain are passable.
Hikers can still visit Mount Mikeno in the rainy months of October to November and March to May to enjoy huge discounts on hiking permits and accommodation facilities. However, during the rainy season, the trekking trails are muddy and slippery, the vegetation is tall giving unclear views of the park animals during the hike, and the roads leading to the mountain are impassable.