Nyiragongo Volcano

The Nyiragongo Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It is noted for long active lava lakes which appear in the summit crater. Nyiragongo is one of eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains.

The Nyiragongo Mountain is also a beautiful strato volcano that features the world’s largest lave lake. The volcano’s forested lower slopes are home to a variety of animals, including chimpanzees, monkeys, and Bushbuck. Nyiragongo’s summit rim is devoid of vegetation and is sometimes dusted with snow. Just from the rim, the tourists can peer down into a churning lava lake and see and also hear the hot gases that explode up through a mosaic of the molten lava. Even though predictable and therefore safe for the tourists, Nyiragongo’s lava flows are fluids.

Situated in Goma town in the Virunga National Park, Mount Nyiragongo is an active stratovolcano with an elevation of 3,470 meters (11,380 ft) in the associated with the Albertine Rift Nyiragongo. The volcano is active in that the last eruption happened 14 years ago but signs of another eruption are showing meaning that another eruption is expected any time.

Quick Facts

Stratovolcano 3470 m / 11,384 ft
DRCongo, -1.52°S / 29.25°E
Typical eruption style: Large effusive eruptions; persistant lava lake in the summit crater.
Nyiragongo volcano eruptions: 1884, 1894, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1905, 1906, 1908(?), 1911, 1918, 1920-21, 1927-77, 1977, 1982, 1994-96, 2002 (17 Jan.), 2002-ongoing (lava lake)
Location: Near the town of Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Nyiragongo Mountain is one of the world’s most beautiful volcanoes. It is a large stratovolcano near Lake Kivu located in the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo with Rwanda. It lies within the Virunga National Park. It has a 1.2 km diameter summit caldera containing the world’s most active and largest lava lake.

Nyiragongo is notorious for its lava lake and producing lateral eruptions with extremely fluid, fast-moving lava flows that repeatedly devastated areas around the volcano. One of the last eruptions caused the Goma desaster on January 2002, when a lava flow destroyed much of the city’s commercial center and prompted 200,000 people to flee.

Though Nyiragongo is less studied by gelogists, the large lava lake contained in its deep summit crater, now active again, became famous in the 1960’s and 70’s when volcanologists such as the Kraffts and Tazieff studied it. It had been active for half a century before it drained in one of the volcano’s recent most catastrophic eruptions in 1977: through openings in its outer flanks in 1977, a huge lava flow poured out and killed hundreds of people. A similar event happened again in January 2002, when lava flows from flank vents drained the lake and cut through Goma, reaching Lake Kivu.

Two older volcanoes, Baruta and Shaheru, are partially overlapped by Nyiragongo on the north and south and look like lateral cones. About 100 parasitic cones are located primarily along radial fissures south of Shaheru, east of the summit, and along a NE-SW zone extending as far as Lake Kivu. Many cones are buried by voluminous lava flows that extend long distances down the flanks of the volcano.

Guide to Hiking the Nyiragongo Volcano

Planning to hike the Nyiragongo Mountains in Congo? Here are practical tips and information to help you get started.

The treks to the summit of Nyiragongo volcano start at the Kibati patrol post. Park rangers lead all treks and porters (unaffiliated with the park) are available for hire. The time required to reach the summit depends on the average fitness of each group, but typically takes 4 – 6 hours. All climbers overnight in the summit shelters because the best viewing is after dark. For this reason, Nyiragongo climbs are a two day affair. Most groups make it back down before noon the following day. Altitude sickness can be an issue for some because the climb begins at 1989m (6,525 ft) and ascends to 3470m (11,382ft) in a short time. Proper hydration is the best way to adapt to the change in altitude. People prone to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) should speak to their physicians about taking preventative measures before making the climb. It is possible for fitter people to climb up and descend in one day, but the vast majorities choose to overnight in the basic accommodations available at the top (included in the permit fee) because the best time to view the lava lake is at night.

Vital Notes:

  1. All the climbs start at 9:30 am. The late arrivals will not be allowed to climb and permits are non refundable.
  2. The trekkers are strongly advised to carry full rain and cold weather gears like the moisture wicking base layer, sweater. Jacket, rain resistance pants, long underwear, warm socks, hat, sleeping bag.
  3. All the guests can arrange packed meal services and gear rental for the trip at an additional charge. The packed meals include snacks, lunch and dinner.
  4. The packed meal plan includes snacks, lunch, and dinner on Day 1 and breakfast and snacks on Day 2. Water is also included for both days.
  5. The gear package includes a sleeping bag, jacket, fleece top, hat and rain poncho. Porters can be hired at the base of the climb to carry loads for $24 round trip (gratuity not included). The maximum weight that porters are authorized to carry is 15 kg. Porters can be arranged by speaking with a Virunga National Park ranger at the Kibati station.
  6. Always carry enough water with you.

The Nyiragongo Volcano trekking permit and the overnight in summit shelter;

  • The international adults is $ 300
  • The Congolese Adults is $ 90
  • International childen is $ 175
  • Congolese child is $ 25