Hiking The World’s Largest Lava Lake on Mount Nyiragongo

Mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano built up with alternate layers of lava & ash therefore the lake fluctuated in size in size, depth & temperature over time

Do you desire to explore an exhilarating gift of the world’s largest lava lake burning in a mosaic of molten red fire? Mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano built up with alternate layers of lava and ash therefore the lake fluctuated in size in size, depth, and temperature over time. The mountain is located in the Virunga national park, in the democratic republic of Congo, this is about 20 km of the west of the border of Rwanda and 10 km from the north of Lake Kivu and Goma. Mount Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira are together responsible for Africa’s historic volcanic eruptions. The Lava Lake of Nyiragongo Mountain is the largest lava lake in recent history making it the most voluminous in the world with 700 meters in width and 600 meters in depth which has erupted 34 times since 1882. The volcano’s lower slopes are home to a number of wild animals since it is located in Vigura national park therefore, for those who wish to go hiking on the Mount Nyiragongo, you can mix your hike with an adventure through trekking gorillas too. Animals like gorillas, chimpanzees, monkey species, bushbuck, three-horned chameleon, and different bird species.

Expectations
The average climbing time for this hike is 4 to 6 hours, yet the average slopping time back at the base is 3 to 4 hours depending on the speed and agility of the group since all the are supposed to move together therefore the slowest person during the hike sets the pace at which all the group members move. The hike is divided into five sections with a 6.5km hike each section and 15 minutes break at each stop.

The first section takes the hikers through the dense natural forest at the base of Nyiragongo and here, the group is supposed to look out for the wildlife in the area. In case your hike is mixed with gorilla trekking, it is here where you get to trek the different gorilla families under the guidance of the tour guide.

The second section is where hikers get to follow the open skied trails which offer the beautiful view of the valley below.

The third section takes you through the old trails of the lava that flowed from the mountain summit and past steaming volcanic fossils like stones with a thick pile of basaltic lava, birds, and animals that died during the eruption.

In the fourth section, the hikers get to enter the high montane forest and the final ascent is the steep 300m way to the summit. This is the most breathtaking sight you have ever seen, listening to the roar of the fire and watching the red molten fire just below your feet.

Permit prices and extra costs
Congo visa costs 105 USD for a single person and this is valid for 14 days on entry, the permits can be obtained from Virunga national park or through a tour operator at just 300 USD however, foreigners are advised to book for the permit and secure it before you apply for a Congo visa.

Extra costs are for the porters who cost 15 to 25 USD per day per person for a 15kg bag respectively. These will help to reduce the luggage you carry making hiking very easy for each tourist hiking a steep mountain.

Nyiragongo bag packs cost 100USD consisting of sleeping bags since the mountain top can be freezing cold at night, water, lunch, dinner, warm clothes, and breakfast. There are public toilets however there is no running water.

Note that at the top of the mountain, a tourist is assured of getting shelter where there is a number of 12 shelters with 2 sleeping beds. There are other shelters apart from Nyiragongo shelters like the bukima tented camp, kibumba tented camp, mikeno lodge, and the tchegera tented camp. These provide the best services for the tourist including breakfast, lunch, and supper.

Best time
The best time to go hiking at mountain Nyiragongo is during the dry season, here a tourist does not expect disruption from the hike because of rain, the clouds are clear enough for everyone to see the crater and hence giving you the best experience.

What to park for the hike

  • Rain jacket in case it rains
  • Warm clothes and sleeping bags since the top of the mountain can be freezing cold at night
  • Hiking boots that are light weight and possibly water proof
  • Porter
  • Parked lunch at water
  • Camera and binoculars
  • Bag pack
  • Touch

Threats
Hiking mountain Nyiragongo is very tiring with an elevation of 3250 meters, it is necessary for the tourist to make prior preparations before hiking. These include physical and mental preparations like running, walking for some good distance before you go for this trek.

Mazuku as locally termed is the localized carbon dioxide in some locations where the gas seeps from the ground are high hence posing a deadly threat to the life of the locals, that is to say, there has been a loss of the lives of many children in the most recent years.

There was a discovery of a new vent that opened in 2016 in the northeast edge and the locals fear that there might be a flank eruption. These flank eruptions happen at the flanks of the mountain instead of its summit and these occur due to lateral draining of magma from its central conduit because of blockage in the summit conduit forcing the magma to move in a different direction. However, the lava flows are usually at a low pace of 100km/hr. and therefore, they rarely pose a danger to human life.

However, under the monitoring of the Goma Volcanic Observatory, there is seismic data ( provides the time picture of subsurface structure) produced every four minutes and temperature data produced every 10 minutes, therefore, before any eruptions occur, the GVO would already know.

NOTE

  • You are required to have a yellow card before you book your permit and visa to hike mountain Nyiragongo
  • Book a permit for hiking mountain Nyiragongo and a visa
  • Tourists will provide a negative PCR test for Covid 19 taken in the last three days or a Covid vaccination certificate.
  • Normal trekking protocols will apply however, the face mask should be worn all the time and a distance of 1.5m should be kept between the person in front and the one following behind.

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