Nyiragongo is a beautiful stratovolcano containing the world’s largest lava lake. The volcano’s lower forested slopes are home to a variety of animals, including chimpanzees, several species of monkey, the three-horned chameleon, bushbuck and a myriad of bird species, making the walk to the top of this mighty mountain all the more gratifying. The hike up of mount Nyiragongo is booked from Virunga National park as this mountain is located close to the park.
Have you ever thought about smoky volcanic mountains? Is hiking or mountaineering one of your lovely adventures? Do you wish to see the world’s largest Lava Lake? Just at 20 kilometers in the Virunga National Park, lies Africa’s most active stratovolcano “Mount Nyiragongo” at an elevation of 3470 meters. Mount Nyiragongo is situated on North of Goma town in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) just within the Virunga National Park. Visitors taking gorilla safaris don’t enjoy only watching the mountain gorillas or Eastern Lowland gorillas but also enjoy several remarkable hiking experiences of kind. The Virunga National Park offers opportunity tourists yet another glorious hike at Nyiragongo Mountain. For adventure seekers, you have no reason to doubt about Mount Nyiragongo hike!
Hiking on Nyiragongo Mountains is one of the life changing experiences that reward visitors with striking crater and Lava Lake. The crater stretches about two (2) kilometers wide and the Lava Lake is situated in the crater with two different cooled Lava benches in the crater walls. The first Lava bench lies 3175 meters and the second is around 2975 meters. Have you ever heard about the world’s largest Lava Lake? Lava Lakes are one of the spectacular forms of volcanic activity in the world and Mount Nyiragongo offers you opportunity to explore the world’s largest Lava Lake. At the Nyiragongo Mountain Summit, position yourself in a safe distance and the strike at a bubbling Lava cauldron and be filled with authentic volcano energy of Mt Nyiragongo as it heaves and breathes. Although the hike is breathtaking adventure, the experiences thereafter are unforgettable. The hike takes at least 4-6 hours and this also involves an endurance of the hot conditions as you hike however, the path is a bit simple and it is not excessively steep. Your hike is not an ordinary one, but trail that takes you through the beautiful birds and small mammals along the way. The hike starts at the Kibati station and visitors together with porters are led by park rangers. Remember your fitness determines what time you will reach the summit!
The Virunga national park is also the home for the two Virunga mountains and these are the mount Nyiragongo and mount Nyamulagira, the only active ones in the area. The other Virunga mountains are dormant and these are the mount Karisimbi, Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga, Mount Bisoke and Mount Mikeno but the Mount Nyiragongo still stands out and here are the few facts that make it one of a kind. On your Congo Safari, you should not miss hiking the Nyiragongo Mountains;
Mount Nyiragongo is a stratovolcano and this kind of Volcano is that one that is built up by layers of hardened lave commonly known as strata. These types of Volcanoes are the most common types of Volcanoes as compared to the shield volcanoes. The sides are also comprised of volcanic ash and blocks all evidence of volcanic activity in the area.
- More liquid lava
The mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano however the magma that is ejected from this volcano is more liquid as it has a low silica level and this is one of the reasons as to why eruptions of this volcano are deadly. The lava travels much faster due to its liquidity compared to the other volcanic mountains whose lava is thick and moves slower and hardens faster.
- Very Active
The mount Nyiragongo along with the mount Nyamulagira are very active mountains and are said to be responsible for up to 40% of the volcanic activity on the entire African Continent. The mount Nyiragongo individually has erupted 35 times aver since the first recording in 1977. The most recent eruption of the mount Nyiragongo was in the year of 2021.
The eruptions of the mount Nyiragongo have claimed up to 70 people, destroying thousands of homes and leaving people homeless. The town of Goma still has some ruins and volcanic rock spotted in a number of places. The 2016 Nyiragongo eruption was the most deadly eruption as it claimed the biggest number of lives.
- Active but hike able
The mount Nyiragongo despite having active volcanic status, with even the last eruption being in May 2021, the volcano is hike able The hike up the mount Nyiragongo is a 5 hour demanding hike for a rewarding view of the lava crater lake at the top. On clear nights, the hikers are able to see the red boiling magma from the Nyiragongo summit shelters.
This is a thrilling yet very rewarding experience and a permit goes for 300 USD exclusive of camping equipment. The mount Nyiragongo hike is organized by the Virunga national park and available for booking any time of the year.
- Permanent eruption effect
The mount Nyiragongo is a blessing and doubles as an enemy to the area of Goma. The mount Nyiragongo previous volcanic activity left the area with toxic gas that is emitted on the eruptions and this gas suffocated and claimed lives especially those of the children and some people were left with permanent respiratory issues. The carbon dioxide fumes that were released into the air were from 2002 mount Nyiragongo eruption.
- Most Dangerous eruption
The most dangerous eruption that was experienced from the mount Nyiragongo was the 2002 eruption as it reached the Goma Town, destroyed businesses, homes and even destroyed a part of the Goma international airport. There were about 245 deaths recorded from this eruption, 400,000 plus people evacuated from the town and the carbon dioxide also continued to claim lives.
The mount Nyiragongo currently is being studied by the Goma volcano observatory and does not pose any threat so visits are possible to the summit of the mount Nyiragongo on your Congo safari. Get in touch and let us plan your hike to the mount Nyiragongo.
Hiking the Virunga Volcanoes
Mount Nyiragongo forms one of the most striking fiery volcanoes in African continent. Because of it’s an active eruption, Nyiragongo Mountain has erupted for about 34 times since 1882 and the effect thereafter leaves lots of bubbling and spewing fires that take years prior settling down. Never miss to stare at the smoky bubbles of this great volcano.
Like any volcano eruptions, in 2002, Mt Nyiragongo erupted and the Lava Lake drained from fissures on its western flanks. This impact was also realized in the Goma town, a capital of the East Virunga province and due to this rendered 200000 people homeless.
Accessibility of Mt Nyiragongo
Tourists, interested in visiting the Virunga National Park can fly into Kigali International Airport, Rwanda then connect to Goma Town. Goma is situated across the border from Gisenyi and it takes the visitors about 3 to 3.5 to drive from Kigali. In case of late arrivals, visitors can as well spend a night in any of Kigali hotels and then take off the next day to the Virunga National Park. For your flights, there is Ethiopia Airlines and domestic Democratic Republic of Congo Airlines that fly up to Goma although the airport is not up to international standards. While you are planning for trip to DRC, note that self arranged transport may not be useful. Your safety is very vital that is why we recommend that you book our recognized tour operator. Most importantly, note that DRC is still recovering from political unrest but the government is concerned with your safety and the tourists are encouraged to check out for any security alerts before taking a trip into the country.
What to pack for Nyiragongo hike?
For adventure seekers, some of the most important clothes and gear for you to pack include rain jacket, rain pants, running shoes (hiking shoes), heavy fleece, thin stretchy pants, long underwear and 4 pairs of socks, heavy sleeping bag and light sweater, water, snacks, camera. Other things may include the walking stick and as well, ensure you hire a porter to assist you carry your backpack. Hiring a porter may cost you $24 and approximately 15 kilograms of the luggage can be carried by one porter.
Nyiragongo hiking permit and summit shelter
Accommodation is basic for this adventure. Despite several accommodation facilities in DRC, some of the notable ones include Mikeno Lodge, Bukima, Tchegera Island, Lulimbi, and Nyiragongo Summit. For hiking permit to Mt Nyiragongo, they are obtainable via tour operators or through the Virunga National Park but ensure you book in advance. However, the cost doesn’t include the transport. Hiking permit and overnight in the summit shelter cost an adult international visitor $300, Congolese $90 and child (international) $175. Remember only 24 people are allowed to hike Nyiragongo.
When to Visit Mt Nyiragongo
Nyiragongo Mountain can be visited throughout the year for hiking experiences however, the weather patterns are unpredictable given the fact that the volcano lies in the middle of the equatorial rain forest. Around March to May and then November, the area experiences heavy rain and the dry spell starts in June to October and December. For Mt Nyiragongo hike, it is better visiting in the month of January and February, then from June to September. During these months, the area is cool and dry.
As well, you can book for your gorilla safari within the Virunga National Park. The mountain gorilla permits cost $400 for adult international visitors and $150 for Congolese.
In conclusion, despite the mountain gorillas or the Eastern Lowland gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country is also offers adventure experiences especially at Mt Nyiragongo. The hike is one of the strenuous experiences of kind for adventure seekers! Come and explore the beauty of the Mt Nyiragongo volcano and be filled with striking world’s Lava Lake and varied animal species on the forested lower slopes. Visitors can as well combine their hiking experiences and gorillas within the Virunga National Park. Enjoy the best of your hike!