The government of Rwanda is planning to put a cable car on Mt. Karisimbi to promote Eco-tourism in that part of the country. The cable car system will facilitate hikes to the highest mountain in the country, the Karisimbi volcano, the Rwanda Development Board has said.
The cable will be used as a mode of transport for tourists at the Karisimbi mountain and is expected to improve tourism in the country.
At 4705m the summit of Mt Karisimbi is the highest peak in the Virunga Range, the highest point in Rwanda and one of the highest summits in Africa. Climbing Mt Karisimbi is a fantastic experience but at the moment can only be attempted by experienced and fit hikers. The normal climb does not involve any mountaineering skills and will typically take two days.
The final ascent of Mt Karisimbi is physically very demanding given the very high altitudes. Temperatures can be well below freezing at the summit in the early hours of the day.
The $38 million (Rwf25billion) project involves installing a cable car to facilitate people especially tourists to access the summit. The cable car ride will provide a unique tourist product for the region, and help make Rwanda a tourist destination of choice.
The project will involve establishing a 260sq kilometer area to promote ecotourism and make Rwanda the premier ecotourism destination in Central and East Africa.
The Karisimbi cable car projects will be the second of its kind on the continent, the other being the one in Cape Town, South Africa. It is expected to offer crater surfing via zip lines, according to RDB.
Currently Karisimbi hikers climb from the edge of Volcanoes National Park to the ridge of the huge caldera that extends at the base of the actual cone of Mt Karisimbi, crossing first the bamboo forests and then the Hagenia - Hypericum forests. The hike then continues through the caldera, across a bush of giant Lobelia. Another route begins at the foot of Mt Visoke, takes climbers across the saddle and up Mt Karisimbi.
At the end of the first day a very basic mountain camp is set up which will be climbers base for the night. Early the following morning the climb begins again for the summit, where climbers can enjoy beautiful morning light and astonishing scenery. On a clear day the view from the summit is spectacular both on the Rwandan and Congolese sides with views of the Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira active volcanoes in the distance. The return hike then takes the rest of the second day to complete.
Rwanda’s tourism sector is one of the leading foreign exchange earners in the country. Current fees for the hiking Mt. Karisimbi stand at USD$ 175 per person which includes the Park guide. The trek starts at 09:00am from the park headquarters at Kinigi from where visitors will have to drive to the entry point in the forest (this is usually reached by about 10:00 - 11:00am). The hike normally ends in the afternoon of the second day. Permits can be purchased from the park headquarters of the day of the trek but advanced warning is necessary to allow the park’s authorities time to prepare. Porters can be hired at a cost of USD$ 30 for the trek.