Do You Know How You Can Visit All the Countries of Our Region at the Same Time?

Article from the series: Attractions of Rwanda, western Uganda and eastern DR Congo

Mt Sabinyo (or, as our Rwandan brothers call it, Sabyinyo) is the answer! Its highest peak proudly stands at 3,669m/12,037ft, lies in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo at the same time, and is absolutely the preferred volcano for hiking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. We have previously presented Mt Gahinga and Mt Muhabura with ample affection but a true mountaineer will know where to go — to the top of the last dormant volcano in the photo above!

Fun atop Mt Sabinyo; photo by Marcus Westberg

By the mere look, the rugged summits of Mt Sabinyo offer the most beautiful scenery and photography. But they hold a lot of symbolism too, locally meaning “an old man’s molar teeth” (from erinyo). The constitution of the Republic of Uganda defines the boundaries of the country as starting from Sabinyo and ending at Sabinyo; the mountain hosts the first and the last Ugandan border pillar!

Enchanted forests on the way to the top of Mt Sabinyo; photo by Marcus Westberg

Sabinyo hiking is a one-day adventure and very enjoyable as one passes through a range of vegetation zones such as woodland forest, the bamboo and ericaceous zone. A very lucky trekker might see buffaloes, elephants, bushbucks, duikers, golden monkeys and sometimes even gorillas. (You will have an armed guard with you, just in case.) The round trip can take between 8 to 10 hours, and is not recommended to people who are afraid or sweat, long ladders or heights.

Mt Sabinyo ladder; photo by Marcus Westberg

This trail passes through a boggy Kazibakye swamp, which is always muddy and waterlogged — but with good hiking shoes or gumboots one can smoothly go through. The area is liked by elephants as they come there for water, birds and butterflies.

View from Mt Sabinyo; photo by Marcus Westberg

The formation of Sabinyo also resulted in a deep gorge which offers nature lovers a range of attractions, such as a waterfall and Albertine endemic bird species like Rwenzori Turaco and Kivu Ground Thrush. This is a separate Gorge Walk, the main nature trail in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. It takes an average of 3 to 5 hours.

Uganda is the only country that allows the ascent to the peak of Mt Sabinyo, however, our Rwandan colleagues also offer a rarely done yet beautiful Sabyinyo experience. No matter which side of the border you are on, don’t miss the oldest of the six volcanoes in the Virunga massif!

Gorilla Highlands recently supported Patrick Westöö (Sweden/Portugal) during his semi-independent explorations of Rwanda, and knowing his love for old-growth forests Mt Sabyinyo hiking was simply a must. The activity is rare enough that rangers had to inquire with local farmers about where to best enter Volcanoes National Park! Patrick spent most of the day taking the wild slopes in, and was blown away by the beauty of the mountain. The fact that he was walking in the footsteps of the elephants made a special impression. He recommends it to anyone not obsessed with climbing peaks.

featured photo by the author


  1. Good evening from the foothills of Sabinyo!
    I can’t say we walked far today but we did have a wonderful clear view of Mt Sabinyo from the Volcanoes Safaris’ Batwa Village.
    Tip: always listen to local advice regarding the weather e.g. if it’s clear, go for it. Early mornings often have the best weather.

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