A Congo safari trek to mount Nyiragongo is a hooray journey to the world`s largest active lava lake. The whole hiking experience of Nyiragongo Mountain contains most of the theoretical geography that you have studied.
The Nyiragongo trek begins from the bottom of the volcano in Goma. You will have a stopover at the Virunga National Park office to sign-in along with your guide. The trek to the top of Mt Nyiragongo is often done in groups ranging from a couple of people to 12 but it usually depends on the day.
The hike begins at 1,994 meters above, and then you will embark on more 1,524 meters of elevation up to the summit which is approximately 3,502meters. The hike is approximately 8km, not so long but you will experience a sharp altitude in such a short distance. Hiking is like a game of footballers, they run for 90minutes with just a break of 15minute!
Then you too do not have to worry whether you will manage this steep trek. The trek is not as strenuous as most people say, you just need to get prepared and be passionate. Armed rangers and porters are always at a standby to give you maximum support.
Porters will possibly carry for you your luggage to the top and back. Should you fear and chose to stop along the way, talk to you porter and ranger. They will definitely bring you back. But of course, you don't have to tremble, you can hike.
Brief History about Virunga National Park in Congo
Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on the border of Uganda and Rwanda.
Virunga National Park is the oldest national park in Africa and has the biggest population of mammals, birds and reptiles in the African continent.
It covers an area 7800Km2 (3000 square miles) (790,000 ha), that includes forests, savannas, lava plains, swamps, erosion valleys, active volcanoes, and the astonishing glaciated peaks of Rwenzori mountains.
The only park in the globe that hosts three taxa of Great Apes, Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is most famous for housing up to about a quarter of the world's critically endangered mountain gorillas, and the other two Great Ape species, the eastern lowland Grauer's gorillas and chimpanzees.
Virunga National park is also home to the Okapi, a threatened species that resembles a zebra but is more closely related to the giraffe. Large colonies of hippopotami, forest and savanna elephants, lions, and numerous rare bird species can also be found in the park.
It is believed that the Nyiragongo volcano erupts due to the tectonic plates that fracture from the Lake Kivu rift allowing magma to pass through them, and the continuous seismic activity in the region.
The basalt plates usually separate the lava lake for the molten lava to remain in liquid form for a long period – many hours.
Consequently, a fissure opens from the plates, causing flows from the lava lake to run downhill.
The New Lava Lake in the Crater of Nyiragongo
Until 1948 when it was discovered, the lava lake at Nyiragongo Volcano was previously suspected to exist. At the time of its discovery, the lava lake was measured and was found to be 120,000 square meters, but later measurements confirmed it to be changing in depth, size, and temperature.
This world’s largest lava lake is within a broad, steep-sided cinder cone of about 18m high and about 180m wide on the crater floor, and its eruption is still prone to happen.
This new lava bubbling since 2005 also form lava fountains that rise to about 12m high. The many plateaus in the crater reveal the same patterns of previous lava lakes before eruption for example earth earthquakes.
The Goma Volcano Observatory and scientists are striving to discover other signs before the eruption apart from the common earthquakes to predict any future volcanic activity.
Mount Nyiragongo Erupted Recently – Why This is Africa's Most Dangerous Volcano
Even though the mountain eruption last happened in 2021, current trends in the geologic factors reveal that this volcano is still a threat to the neighboring people and the eruption will still happen.
Mountain Nyiragongo is one of the few volcanoes on the surface of the earth with a consistent lava lake boiling in its crater floor.
Hundreds of people living on the slopes have been killed through the previous eruptions and thousands have been displaced from their homes from the destruction of the lava.
More so, each eruption resulted in large amounts of carbon dioxide overshadowing the air surface of several villages thus a big threat to the locals living in the slopes on the ground.
The Possibility of a Future Impending Eruption
Nyiragongo Volcano still shows signs of an impending eruption soon for example earthquakes. Studies reveal that due to the active status of the lake, there is a possibility of it erupting again.
It is assumed that the next time this volcano erupts, the magma rising to the lava lake will flood Goma City and the shores of Lake Kivu will also be covered with a large amount of carbon dioxide from the magma. The magma may move below the grounds, thus causing a new volcanic vent in the middle of Goma City.
Therefore, Goma City together with the Gisenyi border is in a very serious threat. However, scientists are studying the frequency of any possible future eruptions and the likely paths that the lava flows may take in the future.
It is also revealed that the neighboring inhabitants of the mountain slopes cannot move to a safer region and in case of any future eruptions, millions of people will greatly be affected.
In addition to the country’s political instabilities throughout the years, the Nyiragongo Volcano is a place you can visit for your trip but with a lot of safety precautions, especially from a reliable tour operator.
Hiking/Climbing Mount Nyiragongo | Tourism at the Nyiragongo Volcano
Since the Nyiragongo volcano is on the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda, it is much easier to connect from any of these countries from Eastern Africa to tour the Volcano.
The ascent on the Nyiragongo volcano is through five sections and visitors will rest for at least 15 minutes at one point at a time at every break stop during their ascent.
This ascent to the mountain begins at the Kibati Ranger Post nearest to the slopes and is at an altitude of 1870m to the summit which is 3,470m.
The ascent to the top of the mountain will take about 4 hours to 6 hours and descending to the ground slopes of the mountain takes about 4 hours depending on the speed of the hiking group.
The first section of the ascent will lead you to the dense forests at the bottom of the Nyiragongo. This first section is the one point to view the different wildlife of the mountains including the different Monkey species and the Bushbucks, among others.
After the first section, the second section of the ascent offers an amazing scenery viewing space for hikers in which they will have a look at the extensive vegetation and the valley below the ground.
Additionally, the third section of this ascent will lead you across the old lava flows and churning volcanic fissures that form on the surface or the slopes. The fourth section crosses beautiful montane forests while the fifth section leads you 300m to the summit of the volcano.
When you reach the summit of the mountain, the beautiful extensive views of the vegetation and the valley below on the ground will carry you away in its exhilarating views. You will meet the world’s largest lava lake burning in a red fire once on the summit.
A beautiful view is also emitted at night as this world’s largest lava lake glows against the beautiful night stars.
Local legends believe that after people die, the souls of sinners burn the lava lake of Nyiragongo and good people enjoy eternal life on the snowcapped summit of Mt Karisimbi.
To climb to the crater of the largest lava lake in the world, you will need to get permission from the National Park Service and you will be accompanied by a ranger.
Additionally, it is best to use a reputable Congo tour operator who has at one point experienced organizing such tours for tourists.
How to Climb Mountain Nyiragongo on a Budget | Climbing Mount Nyiragongo Cheaply
It is possible to climb this main crater to see the largest lava lake in the world on a budget tour.
Below is how you can climb this main crater to see the lava lake with a simple budget.
- Instead of spending on expensive accommodations, you can get cheap accommodations for about $11 at the Gisenyi border or spend about $ 40 if you stay at Goma City. Virunga National Park will pick you up in the morning.
- The Nyiragongo hike is $ 300 if you climb through Virunga National Park and this cost includes the cost of your accommodation at the top. Thus, you are recommended to spend on the meal package and porters to manage costs.
Travel Tips and Practical Information to Consider Before Hiking Mt Nyiragongo
While on an ascent to the summit, the temperature drops, and therefore it is colder at the summit than on the lower levels. There are also a few cases of high winds and rain at the summit upon your ascent. Thus, it is important to carry sufficient attire and equipment for rain and cold temperatures at higher altitudes, especially at the summit point.
Visitors are responsible for their hiking equipment, food, and water, but by using a tour operator, they can get a lot of help and make their journeys more comfortable. According to our long experience in organizing tours to this lava lake, and important information from scientists from bodies like the Royal Museum, we provide the best experiences for your trip.
You are advised to carry at least 3 liters of water while on your ascent to the summit.
Hiking gears can however be hired at an extra cost to make the summit ascent and stay much more comfortable.
Water, charcoal, and other cooking equipment are carried by hand to the crater top, but you can hire porters cheaply (about $24) to help you with this.
Additionally, hiring a wooden walking stick will go for about $5 and you can spend about $100 for gear and meal package.
The meal package offered by Virunga includes hiring a cook to climb with you, availability of snacks and drinks at the rest stops, and a three-course meal once you arrive at the top of the crater.
For visitors buying a gear package, you can leave your personal backpack at a storage area because the gear comes with the needed equipment including a backpack.
Once you get to the lava lake views, avoid getting close to the edge of the crater/lava lake as it is possible to slip and fall, thus threatening your life.
Flying a drone is also not recommended as the volcanic ash in the air from the molten lava affects the way the drone flies. You will end up losing your drone in the volcanic lake.
If you desire hiking with a large group of people, it is best to join on the weekends, but if you are the type that enjoys the company of a few people, then hiking on the weekdays is recommended. This is because the weekend is when scientists from research organizations book a climbing adventure
Remember to tip the porters, guides, rangers, and cooks once you come done from visiting the crater/lava lake.
Last but not least, get travel insurance in case of any emergencies that may risk your life in terms of medication.
What to Pack for Climbing Mount Nyiragongo
There are many important things to consider packing before and when climbing Mount Nyiragongo to view the lava lake in the large crater.
Some of them include the following;
- Water-resistant hiking boots that are comfortable on the feet.
- At least two pairs of socks, gloves, head socks, and many warm clothes are also recommended to keep warm and comfortable during the hike to colder temperatures in the higher summit.
Waterproof hiking pants to keep you warm and dry as you climb to the summit.
- Altitude sickness preventative medication like Diamox is highly recommended to take during your hike.
- A headland that you can wear at night during the hike.
- A waterproof backpack to keep all your belongings safe.
- Camera for taking memorable photos of the crater and the lava lake at Nyiragongo, plus other wildlife that you will spend hours watching during your walk.
Bottled water to stay hydrated during your Nyiragongo hike to the crater/lava lake.
- Insect repellent, with the lava lakes region surrounded by some insects, and insect repellent will help keep them away.
- Pair of Binoculars
- Rain jacket or Poncho
- First aid kit
How to Get to Virunga National Park/The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Purchasing a DRC permit can be done through Virunga National Park, seamlessly. It is possible to get your visa within 48 hours without going through any hectic paperwork.
You can enter the Democratic Republic of the Congo with your visa at the Grand Barrière Border between Rwanda and Kenya in Eastern Africa, within a few hours. There are also two crossings at the Gisenyi border which leads to Goma City. Visitors who usually use the Gisenyi border fly into Kigali City (the Rwandan City) and then they continue to the border using public transport.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mt Nyiragongo
- Did a Volcano Erupt in Congo? | What Volcano Erupted in the Congo Recently?
Yes, the Nyiragongo Volcano eruption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa recently took place in 2021. However, other years in which Congo Mount Nyiragongo eruption occurred in 1977 and 2002.
- What is the Meaning of Nyiragongo?
“Nyiragongo” means “Mountain of Fire”, referring to its large lava lake, also known to be the largest lava lake in the world.
- What is the Location of Mount Nyiragongo? | Where is Nyiragongo Volcano Located? | Where Can the Nyiragongo Volcano Be Found?
Nyiragongo is located inside Congo’s Virunga National Park and it is among the 8
- What is Mount Nyiragongo Famous For?
This volcano is famous for having the world’s largest lava lake on its summit.
- Is Mount Nyiragongo Still Erupting?
According to recent studies, scientists believe that the Nyiragongo Volcano will still erupt in the future due to the current volcanic activity of the plates becoming magma and some fissures that form on the surface/slopes as a result, earthquakes among other signs.
- When Was Mount Nyiragongo's Last Eruption?
This Congo Mount Nyiragongo erupted last on 22nd May 2021, in which many people lost their homes as the lava flows went through several villages in the neighborhood.
- How Many People Died in The 1977 Nyiragongo Eruption?
At least 50 people in Kibati and Moniki, among several villages died because of the carbon dioxide asphyxiation produced from the magma and burns in the 1977 Nyiragongo eruption.
- How Many People Died in the 2002 Nyiragongo Eruption? -
In 2002, about 245 people died due to carbon dioxide asphyxiation from magma and burn in the Nyiragongo eruption and 120,000 lost their homes.
- How Many People Died in the Congo Volcano?
Due to the volcanic eruptions that form fissures on the surface of some places including slopes, at least hundreds of people have died from carbon dioxide asphyxiation produced from the magma or burns and more than 100,000 people lost their homes.
- What is the Largest Volcano in the Congo?
The Nyiragongo Volcano which rises at an elevation of 3,470 m above sea level is the largest of volcanoes on the surface of the earth and it also has the world’s largest lava lake.
Visiting the Nyiragongo Volcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is thus an adventure to add to your bucket list. This adventure that leads you to the lava-bubbling summit of the Nyiragongo will bring you close to the world’s largest lava lake, a region where you can also explore the Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park.
Book with us your Mt Nyiragongo trip today for exclusive experiences. Inquire today!