Mount Nyiragongo is among the very few strikingly beautiful spots on earth and it is with no doubt one of Congo’s iconic attractions. Nyiragongo strata-volcano holds the largest Lava Lake on earth on its summits with altitudinal range of 3470m.

Nyiragongo is an active Virunga volcano and it is found inside the Virunga National Park, Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). From Goma town, this strata-volcano is 12kms and it is also located adjacent to Lake Kivu, East border with Rwanda.

Nyiragongo strata-volcano holds an extensive Crater with width of 2kms and it is where the world’s largest Lava Lake is contained. The strata-volcano’s Crater features 2 unique cooled Lava benches in the crater walls. One bench is 3175m- the highest while the lower bench is 2975m.

Lava Lake on Nyiragongo summit has varying depth. Before the 1977 eruption, the Lava Lake had altitude of about 3250 with depth of 600m. In 2002 eruption, there was low altitude recording of 2600m on the Lava Lake. Nyiragongo unlike the rest of the other Virunga volcanoes has had multiple volcanic eruptions with the very recent one recorded in May 2021.

Nyiragongo volcano geology

Nyiragongo features pyroclastic and Lava flows. The Lavas comprise of low silica, ultramafic extrusive rocks and rich in alkaline. It contains several proportions of melilite, leucite, nepheline, clinopyroxene and kalsilite minerals.

The composition of low silica results in eruptions characterized of unusual fluid flows. Unlike most lava flows that move a little slow and at time not cause danger to humans, the Lava flows on Nyiragongo usually flows downhill at a speed of 100kms/hr.

History of Nyiragongo volcano’s active eruption

What still remains not certain is how long Nyiragongo has been erupting. However, from 1882, it is believed that this active volcano has had over 40 eruptions. The 1977 volcanic eruption however, resulted into creation of new small volcanic vent- Murara, not far from Nyamuragira volcano slopes. The recent eruption record occurred in May 2021 where Lava flow almost reached the Goma Airport. During the 2021 Nyiragongo eruption, about 37 people were reported missing and presumed dead.

Hiking Nyiragongo stratovolcano

Nyiragongo active volcano is one of the preferred spots for hiking/volcano climbing adventures in Africa. On a trek to summits of Nyiragongo, there are higher chances to see variety of wildlife at the lower forest slopes. The base area of this volcano features important wildlife species such as bushbucks, chimpanzees plus other primates, birds and a lot more.

Treks on Nyiragongo volcano are divided into 5 parts. Trekkers have 15 minutes break on every stopover made, however, all hikes/ascents begin with briefing at Kibati Ranger Post (1870m) and trekking up to 3470m takes 4-6 hours depending on your speed. Returning to the base takes about 4 hours and like ascending, the number of hours spent descending vary depending on visitors’ hiking speed.

During Nyiragongo trek, the 1st section for trekkers to conquer will be the thick forest at the volcano’s base area. This is a significant section where hikers should expect to keep an eye on a number of wildlife, birds, flora and more.

The 2nd section takes climbers into the open skies where you have clear view of the valley below. The old lava flows and steaming volcanic fissures make up the 3rd section then you navigate to the 4th section, 5th and lastly you get to steep area to conquer the volcano’s summits.

Nyiragongo

At the summit, your exhaustion will definitely melt away as you observe the world’s biggest Lava Lake glows against the backdrop of stars. This is breathtaking and one of the lifetime adventure experiences.

What to pack for Nyiragongo volcano trek?

The important things to have for your Nyiragongo volcano hiking safari include yellow fever vaccination card, hiking permit (each costing USD300), walking/hiking boots, walking stick, gardening gloves, camera, daypack, torch, snacks, safari cloths, safari hat and others.

When to visit?

Trekking Mt. Nyiragongo volcano can be done at any time of the year but, the dry season is most preferable. The drier months with favorable weather conditions are June, July, August to September/December, January to February.

Getting to Nyiragongo volcano.

Access to Nyiragongo volcano is easier starting from Rwanda via Gisenyi port at Lake Kivu then you cross to Goma about half an hour. From Goma, you can take public means or a rental car.

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