Hiking Nyiragongo Volcano

Hiking Mount Nyiragongo

Mount Nyiragongo Volcano is an active stratovolcano with an elevation of 3,470 m (11,380 ft) in the Virunga Mountains associated with the Albertine Rift. Nyiragongo Volcano located inside Virunga National Park in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, about 20 km northwards of Goma Town. The main crater is about two kilometers wide (known as the world’s largest lava lake). The crater presently has two distinct cooled lava benches within the crater walls – one at about 3,175 m (10,417 ft) and a lower one at about 2,975 m (9,760 ft). Nyiragongo’s lava lake has at times been the most voluminous known lava lake in recent history. It has been erupting since 1977 and there have been over 34 eruptions some being internal eruption which is not visible but the notable eruptions was in 1977, 2002. The lava lake is some 250 m below the level of the 1994 lava lake. One of the ongoing problems is localized CO2 toxic gas releases. The deadly releases are locally referred to as “mazuku.” The gas seeps from fumaroles and cracks in the flanks of the volcano. A new vent opened on the flank in March 2016. It was accompanied with reports of rumbling leading to fears of an impending flank eruption.

The most recent large eruption was in 2002. It killed 147 people. Lava flows traveled through the neighboring city of Goma, destroying 13% of it. The eruption displaced 12 – 15,000 homes and hundreds of thousands of people. The lava flows entered the lake and posed a threat to release CO2 and methane gas stored in the lake. Lava from the 2002 eruption is thought to be residual lava from the lava lake activity in the mid-1990s. It was followed by a fresh batch erupted from fissure vents. The eruption was followed by unusual tectonic activity with over 100 earthquakes greater than 3.5 Richter during the 5 days following the eruption. There was also land subsidence at Goma and up to 10 km south along the northern lakeshore.
Hiking Mount Nyiragongo Volcano is among the top Safari activities enjoyed by travelers that choose to visit the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and it is done throughout the year. The recommended number of days to hike is between 2 -3 days. The hike is interesting to tourists besides hike, the beauty of the spectacular bubbling lava and the stunning landscapes of Virunga ranges forming the most striking features which leave hikers completely without breath. However, before engaging in the hiking activity one should note the following:

The five tips for hiking Nyiragongo Volcano

  • Hiring a porter
  • Always be prepared to hire out a porter at $ 24 each round trip and the extra for the tip. Even though you are a hiker, taking 25 to 30 pounds backpack up is so difficult. In case you have bad weather it turns out to be impossible to hike. It’s not good to find out halfway the hike that you can’t continue with the load

  • Taking of the hiking stick
  • It helps when you are going down and most of the lodges provide these sticks, with the steep nature of the hike, the hiking stick is very handy in helping with the stability and momentum as you gain the altitude.

  • Warm weather gear
  • Long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, caps, Jackets and scarf. These are also emphasized since its freezing at the top.

  • Adapt to the altitude beforehand
  • The major concern here is that you shouldn’t get off the plane and continue with the hike directly, you need to give yourself a few days at the higher altitude, this means that you can do a gorilla or chimp trek before to get the blood pumping and heart moving at the higher altitude.

  • Knowing your personal limits
  • You must understand your limits and your body plus understanding the hike. In case you are moderately fit, you can have this hike. Most importantly is how you are with the weather? How does your body respond to the cold weather? How are your joints?.