A glance at the tooth-shaped mountain from a distance answers the question of origin of this name “Sabyinyo.” Mt. Sabyinyo, the oldest and extinct of the eight Virunga volcanoes traces its name from a Rwandese phrase “Iryinyo” (meaning a tooth). It stands at a 3669m elevation above sea level creating an intersection of Uganda, DRC and Rwanda. Its slopes are famous habitats for mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda.
The rugged nature of Mt. Sabyinyo makes its climbing the hardest venture compared to the other seven Virunga Massif volcanoes.
In the northern region of Rwanda, Mt. Sabyinyo forms part of one of the oldest national parks in Africa i.e. Volcanoes NP since its establishment in 1925. It comprises of 160 square kilometer rain forest and bamboo, a home of over 178 varieties of birds 13 of which are endemic to the region.
In DRC, Mt. Sabyinyo forms part of the Virunga National Park. The park is blessed with a multitude of flora like grasslands, plain savannah woodlands and montane forests. These have not only become home to the most famous mountain Gorillas but also the 709 bird, 264 plant, 218 mammal and over 22 primate species making it the highest number in any African national park.
Mt. Sabyinyo surrounds the mighty Mgahinga Gorilla NP on the Ugandan side hence providing habitat to 76+ mammal species some of which are bush pigs, forest elephants and buffalos. Not only mammals stay here, but also 180 bird species reside in the park with a huge list of fourteen Albertine rift mountain endemics as well as thirty-nine which are types of Afro-tropical highland.
WHAT TO SEE OR DO IN / NEAR MT. SABYINYO.
Hiking Mt. Sabyinyo.
The rugged nature of the mountain renders its climbing the most difficult venture compared to the other seven Virunga volcanoes. The steep nature of the Rwanda and DRC sides of the mountain explains why Mt.Sabyinyo hiking happens only on the Uganda side. Hiking on Mt.Sabyinyo is an eight-hour activity divided into four hours up and four hours down the mountain. It is always advisable not to continue climbing once you have not made it to the uppermost peak by 3PM.
The beauty of this mountain peak is the ability to stand in three countries at the same time. Hiking costume includes but not limited to the following; hiking boots, long-sleeved shirt, trouser, garden gloves, and raincoat. Packed lunch and enough drinking water are as well vital. Ntebeko park headquarters provide hiking permits at 85$ for non-foreign residents.
Mountain Gorilla trekking on the slopes of Mount. Sabyinyo.
Gorilla trekking is Mgahinga Gorilla NP’s most popular business as well as Volcanoes National park in Rwanda, on the slopes of Mount. Sabyinyo. A different venture from that of Bwindi Impenetrable forest NP is guaranteed here much as there are only fewer habituated gorilla families. The genesis of the trek begins at the park headquarters whereas one is given a full hour with the gorillas as they play, eat and groom. Out of the eighty mountain gorillas in the park, only one family is habituated and open for trekking. Eight people are permitted to trek the family on a daily basis; the only reason for emphasis on early booking through one’s travel agency. Gorilla trekking permits go for 700 US dollars which is less than that of Rwanda which is 1500 US dollars
Birding in Mt. Sabyinyo.
Cape Robin-chat, Handsome Francolin, Grey Capped warbler, Mountain Masked Apalis, Paradise Flycatcher, Pin Tailed Whydah, Dusky Crimson wing, Black kite, Kivu Ground thrush, speckled Mouse birds, Rwenzori Turaco, etc., are the most visible birds out of 180 species in the park.
NOTE: Birding in this park happens throughout the year.
Sabyinyo Gorge Walk.
This is an exciting five to six hour walk that introduces you to the magnificent Mt. Sabyinyo Rivers. Birds like Grey Capped warbler, Double collared Sunbirds, White-necked Raven, Crowned Hornbill, Black kite, to mention but a few can be spotted in Mgahinga Gorilla NP. Without forgetting the Bush duikers and some Golden monkeys that are shy in nature.
ACCESS TO MT. SABYINYO.
Forming a bigger part of Mgahinga/Virunga conservation area, Mt. Sabyinyo is an intersection point of Uganda, DRC and Rwanda, 14km from Kisoro town and four hundred and eighty kilometres from Kampala (a ten-hour drive journey by road).
Access by air is provided by Aero link flight services from Entebbe airport to Nyakabande Airstrip - Kisoro including a 14 kilometre drive to Park headquarters.