Mount Nyiragongo volcano hike
Virunga National Park Congo is the popularly visited destination in the country with two popular activities done in the park which are Mountain gorilla trekking and a hike to Mount Nyiragongo summit. Mount Nyiragongo is within the Virunga massif close to the Albertine rift a region that is very rich in diversity within Africa. Mount Nyiragongo is about 3,470m high with two distinct lava benches one about 3,175m (10,417ft) and the other at 2,975m (9,760ft). Mount Nyiragongo is one of Africa’s recently active stratovolcanoes with a lava lake once known as the most voluminous. The most common activity on mount Nyiragongo is hiking especially done alongside Congo gorilla trekking safaris in Virunga National Park.
From 1882, Mount Nyiragongo has erupted at least 34 times. In 1977, there was an active volcanic activity when the walls fractured and the lava lake drained in one hour creating the fastest lava flow recorded (40mi/h). This kind of fast flowing lava is unique to Nyiragongo stratovolcano. In 2002 another active eruption occurred when a 13 km fissure opened in the south flank of the volcano. The lava flowed till the outskirts of Goma city. Mount Nyiragongo is one of the recent active volcanoes and for this uniqueness many are always daring to hike Mount Nyiragongo and never have they been disappointed, the lava and hike experience are 2 different and memorable Congo safari activities.
Where is Mount Nyiragongo?
This amazing Volcano is 20km north of Goma town (capital of the North Kivu province in the Eastern DRC) and just west of the border with Rwanda.
Mount Nyiragongo hike
A hike to Mount Nyiragongo is briefly a single day Congo tour hike and a single day descend with a night spent at the summit.
You can decide to take the Nyiragongo volcano hike either as a stand-alone trip or tailor it with a Congo gorilla trekking safari to Virunga National Park. One can also opt to tailor their safari with a Uganda wildlife safari or wildlife safari in Rwanda during an extended or long safari.
For a Mount Nyiragongo trek, you arrive from your destination probably Kigali International Airport which is the closest airport with daily flight then transfer to Goma town. On the first day of the trek, you are expected to be at the hike start point by 8:00am Congo local time.
The ascent up the volcano starts at around 10:00am with most climbing groups reaching the summit by 5:00pm. The trek is split in to five legs, so you get four rest stops of about 20 minutes each as you regain your strength and collect your breath. On arriving at the summit, you will spend the night on the crater in small summit cabins just enough for your rest through the cold night.
Early morning before sunrise after taking memorable pictures of the lava at the summit, by around 6:00am getting you then start the descend back to the hike start point going through the steep rocky trail.
In case you need help with the hike and your luggage, hiring a porter at a fee is the best option.
Tips on how to plan for a Mount Nyiragongo hike
Ensure to get a yellow fever immunization certificate and a Congo safari visa at least 2 weeks before travelling to the country for the trek, these are mandatory.
Carry really warm clothes to take you through the night because at the summit it’s 5,000 times colder than you may think.
Don’t be so expectant. Anything can happen, you may not see anything during the night especially when it gets cloudy in the night. Just don’t read anything before you go for the hike because your story could be different so just go have an experience of your own. If there is anything that would require cancellation of the trek, the park officials will communicate to your tour operator.
Plan for payment of some extras like a porter, a wooden walking stick, a meal and sleeping gear. You will definitely need them. You may also need to some money to tip your ranger guide for the extra-ordinary work they do to see you get through the trek.
In case of altitude sickness, don’t forget to carry your medication.
When you reach the summit, never get too close to the edge, not even for the perfect shot because this is hot lava surrounded with sliding rocks, don’t be the victim.
Don’t bother carrying a drone for photography over the volcano because it will definitely get into waste because of the ash in the air.
In case you would love to have the trek to yourself, a void making your booking for the weekends because they are the busiest times of the week.
Always get travel insurance before you start your safari.
A safari to Congo is one that is amazing and can be tailored to any other safari, go do something extra ordinary and have an amazing tale, just always follow the rule.