Climb Virunga’s Active Volcano- Mount Nyiragongo
This article will basically offer you travel information about Congo’s Nyiragongo Volcano, below includes the geography of the volcano, how much the permit to hike the volcano costs, accommodation, requirements for hiking Mount Nyiragongo. Since Nyiragongo volcano lies in the Virungas and near Virunga National Park, you could have a combined adventure safari including trekking gorillas in Virunga National Park.
Standing at elevation of 3,470m above sea level, this volcano is a large and active Strato volcano lying in the Virunga Massif and is associated with the Albertine Rift. Mount Nyiragongo is situated approximately 20km north of Goma town and Lake Kivu inside DR Congo’s home of mountain Gorillas; Virunga National Park. On this Volcano, the largest crater is about 2km wide and in most cases contains the world’s largest lava lake.
Nyiragongo Volcano is recognized among the world’s most active volcanoes, in its kind it is a composite cone, with gentle lower slopes but the slopes become steeper as you head to the summit. The summit stands at an elevation of 3,468m with a diameter of about 1.2km. Within the crater is a lava lake which more clearly seen and bright at night hence those who would want to have such an experience should spend the night at the summit.
The glowing of this lava lake can be seen when one is in Goma but most interesting even those in Rwanda can have a glimpse of it. In the recent eruptions like that of 2002, a crack opened at the southern side of Nyiragongo which caused lava to flow towards Goma, Lake Kivu also it covered a third of the airport in Goma; this caused displacement of most people.
Geology of Mount Nyiragongo
Not much is being said concerning how long Nyiragongo has been erupting, nevertheless from 1882, research shows that it has erupted 34times, this includes the times over the years when the activity was continuous always in form of a roiling lava lake inside the crater. Nyiragongo partially overlays with other two older volcanoes known as Shaheru and Baratu. It is also bordered by hundreds of really small volcanic cones from flunk eruptions.
Lava emitted during is not usually fluid; it is usually an alkali-rich volcanic rock made of Melilite Nephelinite. Although most lava flows slowly with a rare cause of danger to human beings but in case of an eruption, Mount Nyiragongo’s lava flows faster at a speed of 100km/h.
Hiking Mount Nyiragongo
The Nyiragongo hike is a 2-mile-hike that usually takes about 5hours to get to summit, this is so when starting from north Goma town just near Kibati. The trek involves moving through green forests and lava fields which are steep as you get to the top. You should note that this trek is always tiresome hence trekkers should be fit physically and in good health condition. This trip includes spending a night in the Nyiragongo Crater Cabin on the top of the volcano, there are comfortable beds and trekkers have to carry only sleeping bags.
Why the overnight stay is essential, it is because the best view of the lava lake is spotted well at night, it is so stunning and very nice photos can be taken. The trekkers should be 12 years and above and only a maximum number of 24 pax is allow to trek per day.
How to get the Nyiragongo hiking permit
You can book the permit through a reliable tour Operator suggested by Kahuzi Biega traveler’s guide or you can book it direct from Virunga National Park. Just like it is the case with Gorilla trekking, the Nyiragongo hike is advised to be booked early to avoid disappointments. Authority to confirm the availability of the permit is subject to the final confirmation from Park.
While making bookings for Nyiragongo Hike, Please Note the following;
Permit Price doesn’t include transport costs from wherever you are to the Starting point of the hike. Therefore you should be booked in by a tour operator who will cater for your transport, but then if one is an independent trekker then they should make research on the car rentals to use while in Congo because most of them offer car rental services from Goma to Kibati.
Nyiragongo Trekkers are required to carry both cold weather and rain gears
(This includes sweaters, long underwear, hats, warm socks, jackets, sleeping bag among others). The temperatures at the summit are regularly below the freezing point. But due the steep climb most people get to the summit sweating. The moment you get to the summit ensure that you change your base layer. Please make sure you don’t endanger yourself and other people by coming while unprepared for such conditions.
Ensure that by 9:00am you are at the starting point (Kibati station). When you reach the summit, you spend a night at the top and the next day between 6:30am and 7:00am set off and descend back to Kibati Station, arriving at around 11:30am. If among the trekkers one plans to head to Kigali for a flight back home, ensure that you book for a flight after 6:00pm because the driving speed is limited and the distance from Gisenyi to Kigali which is about a 4hours drive.
Summit shelters have comfortable beds and in each of the 12 shelters there are two single beds, which is where trekkers put their sleeping bags. These cabins are not luxuries but they offer a welcome escape to visitors from the elements. It is on the permit fee that the cost of staying here is included.
Porters can be hired at a cost of $24 from the base to climb with you. The maximum weight porters can carry is 15kgs. They can be arranged by talking to the Virunga park ranger at Kibati.
The meal plan includes lunch, snacks, and dinner on the first day plus breakfast and snacks on the second day. Drinking water is inclusive for both days.
Nyiragongo Volcano Accommodation
There are Nyiragongo crater cabanas at the volcano edge, they lie within the sight of the red-hot lava lake. They are black-colored cabins bending well with the surrounding lava rocks. Any hike to the summit of the volcano includes an overnight at the cabins hence the accommodation cost is accounted on the hiking permit. The visitors have comfortable nights in the cabins on comfortable beds, all they need is to carry a sleeping bag and warm clothes.
What to carry
The hike permits only 24 trekkers per day and hence if one is not on the Mikeno package they should ensure they carry the following as they come for the trek;
-Warm Clothes (jacket or sweater) since it is actually cold at the summit
– Good walking shoes
– Hat Torch/head torch
– Bottled drinking Water (3 liters per person minimum) and any other required drinks
– Rain gear and change of dry clothes
– Sleeping Bag & Food as provided by your tour operator
Tourism in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
DR Congo is among Central Africa’s top Virgin tourism destinations covered with smoking volcanoes, lush rainforests and gushing rivers. The DRC formerly known as Zaire is the distinctive African Adventure. Although it is a geographically complete country, DRC has gone through the saddest levels in modern history, like the cruel 20th Century colonial exploitation, the authoritarian madness also said to be Africa’s First “World war”, which ended when the Kabila political dynasty took over by 2003.
With all that, there country’s tourism is small but growing at a fast rate and mainly centered on the home of Mountain gorillas; Virunga and Kahuzi Biega National Parks located north and south of Lake Kivu respectively.
The tourism Potential
Towns like Goma and Bukavu are both North and South Kivu provincial capitals found on the shores of Lake Kivu. The area neighboring Goma has a beautiful scenery resembling the alpine lakes of Europe. This area is surrounded by the Virunga Mountains and in the Virungas lies Virunga National park in the North and outside Bukavu is Kahuzi Biega National Park.
Sadly, of late most areas in the Eastern part of DRC are known mineral conflicts, the rebel groups, and warlords. But this region was a major tourist destination because before the 1900s it was stable.
Virunga National Park
This is home to Gorillas and the largest concentration of hippos in the world. It is in this park that Africa’s most active volcanoes are found —Nyamulagira and Nyiragongo. Virunga National Park is made up of a number of habitats, from the low-lying plains, the valleys to the Rwenzori Mountains whose height is above 5,000 metres approximately above 16,000ft.
Over the past two decades a group of Congolese Park rangers has devoted itself to manage the DR Congo National Park due the increased poaching, absence of funding and the chronic instability in that time.
Kahuzi Biega National Park
This park is known for the Eastern Lowland Gorillas, this is a subspecies original to DR Congo.
Kahuzi Biega is becoming a famous tourist destination for most travelers heading to Congo. Most people have trekked Virunga’s Mountain Gorillas but this is a unique experience to go for a guided tour to trek Eastern Lowland Gorillas. It is a remarkable experience.
While in this park visitors have the opportunity to not only trek this subspecies of gorillas but also can hike the two extinct mountains which is where the park derives its name; Kahuzi and Biega. These volcanoes are the main reasons for the Park conservation, the Forest Elephants and the Congo forests.
Therefore Congo visitors can choose to climb to the top of these volcanoes to enjoy the unique and spectacular views of Kahuzi Biega including the surrounding bamboo forests, tropical rainforests, waterfalls, Lake Kivu and the waterfalls inside Forests.