The Virunga is a big area but well gifted. The entire conservation area derives its name form a chain of the eight volcanoes that are shared between the areas that Virunga cover: Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic republic of Congo. The mountains are part of the Great Rift Valley.
The Word “Virunga” comes from a local word “ibirunga” to mean “mountain”
The chain of volcanoes housed by the Virunga conservation area of Uganda, Rwanda and DRC includes Mountain Nyamurangira which stands at 3057 meters, Nyiragongo at 3470 meters, Bisoke at 3711 meters, Muhabura 4,127 meters, Mikeno at 4437, Gahinga at 3470 meters, Sabinyo at 3671 meters and Karisimbi which is the highest at 4507 meters.
Two of the eight volcanoes are active: Nyiragongo and Nyamurangira, there is one that is dormant and the others are dead or extinct. Karisimbi is the tallest of all at 4507 meters. The shortest is Namurangira at 3058 meters. All these mountains are covered by a bamboo forest.
The Virunga Mountain derive their names from the local languages in the area and they are named in a way of describing their geographical characteristics. For example sabinyo in Kinyarwanda a local language mean “old man’s teeth” which is exactly as it looks.
The most interesting bit about exploring these mountains is that there is a point in Uganda called the Kanaba gap on the kabale – Kisoro road where you can see 5 of the 8 volcanoes in one sight. It’s a fascinating experience.
When you thing gorilla tracking in Congo, you should always think about these amazing mountains you will encounter. When you hike Mgahinga for example, the summit is the common boarder for Uganda, Rwanda and DRC