If you’re compiling a list of destinations to visit this year, remember to include Virunga on your bucket list. Lakes of hot lava are among the most striking forms of volcanic activities, though at any given time only a few are still active. Maybe, the world’s most magnificent lava lake is Nyiragongo. This is a composite volcano found in the eastern province of Democratic Republic of Congo.
The journey to Mount Nyiragongo from Gomatown is approximately 18 kilometers. It lies close to the border of Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. The lava crater of mount Nyiragongo is about 2 km wide. Currently it has 2 unique cooled lava benches within the crater walls.
In the recent past, mount Nyiragongo has become one of the must visit attractions when you visit Goma or Virunga national park. Virunga community program is one of the different organizations from where you may get more information when planning to hike this volcano for remarkable adventure.
Mount nyiragongo is one of the volcanic mountains responsible for forty percent of Africa’s past volcanic eruption. In 2002 lava flew from mountain Nyiragongo spreading across parts of Goma airport’s runways, leading to destruction of some of its surface. And at least 2 commercial aircrafts crashed.
The major eruption happened in 1977 where the lava lake started in a form of a crater. It also occurred in 1980s and 1994. The recent one occurred in 2002 and it lasted for one day hence destroying 15% of Goma. Many people lost their homes and thousands were evacuated and at least 100s lost their lives.
The last eruption is believed to be the most destructive effusive eruption in the modern history. The eruption temporarily drained the lava lake in the summit crater while volcanic gases suffocated the forests on the upper slopes. Luckily the forest is recovering and the wildlife is returning.
Hiking up and down mountain nyiragongo can be described as fantastic though quite strenuous. The whole journey to the top takes between 4 to 5 hours, often in hot conditions. However the path is quite easy and not excessively steep. A hiking safari on mountain nyiragongo gives you a chance to see the rare bird species and some small mammals along the trails.
On the way to Kibati, there is a super market where you can grab some snacks to eat while climbing mountain Nyiragongo. The hike to the mountain begins at 9am with a briefing by the guide at kibati village and at 11am the ascent begins. The hikers can reach the top of the mountain late in the afternoon depending on the speed. If you prefer to spend a night on top of Mount Nyiragongo worry not, there are mountain huts that offer basic but comfortable accommodation on the rim of the giant crater, high above the violently active lava lake.
The following day after having breakfast, you will descend back and arrive at kibati village between 10am and 11am. Then after head back to Goma or Gisenyi at midday. When coming for a hiking safari on mountain nyiragongo remember to pack walking boots, waterproof clothing, a day backpack, light dressing, sunglasses and warm clothes for the upper region of the volcano where you spend the night.