Mount Nyiragongo is the most active volcanic mountain in Africa elevated at 3,470m high and situated in Virunga National Park in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, north of Goma town and Lake Kivu.
On top of mount Nyiragongo resides a crater which was caused by volcanic activities and later on filled with magma to create a lava lake in 1977 and other small cones were created on the slopes of mount Nyiragongo. After eruption, the lava was seen flowing down the volcano at a very high speed in that it drained in the shortest time possible of less than one hour. Several lava lakes were created inside the crater during the different eruptions that occurred in different years
The volcanic eruption at mount Nyiragongo existed as a result of two rocks of the earth’s crust separating into two due to earth’s internal forces causing the central rock to subsidize creating a crater. This crater, later on, formed a Lava Lake inside which was active from 1894 to 1977. The walls the Crater Lake later on cracked and the lava lake poured and was drained in less than an hour. That was early January 1977 and the lava killed the people who resided on the slopes of the mountain and several other people lost their shelter.
In the early stages of Eruption, the mount Nyiragongo produces toxic carbon dioxide gases through the cracks and vents that are created on the mountain due to the internal reactions inside the mountain as it prepares for the eruption.
After the eruption, the lava started flowing from the Crater Lake on Mount Nyiragongo at a rate of 100km per hour which is unusual with all other lavas the is due to the fact that the lava in Mount Nyiragongo has a low content of silicon making it mafic. This lava is more of liquid form thus leading to widespread and covering large areas in the short period of time down the slope.
A few days after the eruption, the nearby areas received terrifying earthquakes that resulted in the subsidization of some landscape near Goma town and along the shores of Lake Kivu. These earthquakes moved on for some time destroying the property and the lives of people.
Previously, the destructive eruption occurred rendering several lives of people that reside near the mountain as the lava flows at a very fast speed outside covering and destroying all the nearby places toward Goma town and other nearby places. A variety of wildlife lost lives and several populations displaced from their shelter, and infrastructure were also spoilt.
The government of Democratic Republic of Congo put up some scientific means of monitoring the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in order to plan for the nearby population in advance but the plans are always affected by the political instabilities within the country thus leaving the lives of people around mount Nyiragongo at a greater risk as they are never sure of when the eruption will take place.
Hiking Mount Nyiragongo
Since Mount Nyiragongo is the most active volcanic mountain in the world and it is about 20km from Goma town strategically located on the great East African rift valley, it can easily be accessed by visitors through the Gisenyi and Goma town from Kigali-Rwanda.
Hiking mount Nyiragongo is one of the best activities done by the visitors on a Congo or Rwanda safaris. This activity is quite interesting because it enables visitors to climb up to the top of Mount Nyiragongo in the exploration of the lava lake situated on top of the mountain. This lava lake is believed to be the largest lava lake in Africa and can be visited at any time throughout the year though the best season is between June and October.
A hike to Mount Nyiragongo can be incorporated with a visit to Kigali or a visit to Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo since mount Nyiragongo lies in the neighborhood of Goma-Gisenyi border.
Hiking Nyiragongo is a very rewarding experience to be added on any visitors bucket for the best safari in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Hiking the volcanic Nyiragongo mountain starts from Kibati which is around 30 minutes’ drive from Goma a Rwanda border. Hiking starts with a briefing at the office and by 10:00 am, the experienced armed tour guides and potters lead the visitors to the right trail to start the hike which takes around 5-6 hours to summit the top of Mount Nyiragongo. In the process, the guide is always in a position to answer all visitors’ questions and knowledgeable about the formation of the lava lake on top of Mount Nyiragongo and how it has affected the community around it.
After hiking to the top, visitors have as enough time as they can to observe and learn more about the lava lake and the entire park from above. Visitors who wish to have a more beautiful view the lava lake should opt for an overnight at the top of Mount Nyiragongo where they are able to observe the red glow of the lava very well throughout the dark night and return down the mountain in the morning after viewing the largest lava lake in Africa throughout the night.
During the hiking experience, you will be in a position to view some animals in the forest at the base of the Mount Nyiragongo which include primates such as chimpanzees, monkeys, and some other mammals like the bushbuck, birds, and butterflies that will all sum up your hiking experience with everlasting memories.
What to know in preparation for the Mount Nyiragongo Hiking
The Democratic Republic of Congo is now a safe and secure place for visitors who wish to explore the biggest lava lake in Africa on an active volcanic mountain. A hike to Mount Nyiragongo can be joined with a primate safari in Virunga National Park and Kahuzi Biega National park. This trip can be organized by a trusted tour company such as “Achieve Global Safaris” which will help in processing a Congo visa and a 4×4 vehicle to be used during the trip together with other documents needed to access the parks.
- First and foremost, book your visa in time which will be picked on your arrival in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Ensure that you choose the best company to plan your trip
- Get vaccinated against yellow fever as you will need to present your yellow fever book to the immigration office to obtain a Congo visa.
- Make sure that you booked your permits in case you want to track the primates.
- Prepare your good hiking shoes, a cap, gloves, warm sweaters, stockings, and a camera to capture the everlasting moments.
- Visitors who wish to have an overnight at the top of Mount Nyiragongo need to pack enough food and drinking water before setting off from their lodges. However, Visitors who book their accommodation with Mikeno Lodge need not worry about sleeping, eating and everything while on your hike. This is because Mikeno lodge offers special packages including the raincoat, sweater, sleeping bag, packed lunch, enough packed drinking water all at a cost of 80$.
- Hiking always requires that you are fit and in good health since it needs enough energy to reach the top.
- Be at the starting point (Kibati station) before 10:00 am because climbing starts at exactly 10:00 am and people who arrive late are not allowed to climb
- Hiring a porter to assist in carrying the visitors’ bag is at a cost of $12 during the day and $24 overnight and the weight should not exceed 15 kgs
- Pack your Insect repellant in the backpack
“To enjoy this hike, visitors need to fly to Kigali international airport and book the nearby lodges in Gisenyi for easy crossing through Goma border into the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Hiking Mount Nyiragongo is every visitor’s dream to capture the lava lake as it glows through the Night not forgetting sighting several primates at the base of the mountain in the thick forest”.