Mount Nyiragongo/Nyiragongo Volcano is located inside the oldest and largest conservation area in Africa, Virunga national park. This active volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the world with a record of over 30 eruptions the last time being 2012.
Mount Nyiragongo is situated north Kivu province, 25km from the border town of Goma, west of the border with Rwanda. Nyiragongo’s main crater is about two kilometers wide and contains a permanent lava lake. Interesting to note is that the crater presently has two distinct cooled lava benches within the crater walls – one at about 3,175 and the other about 2,975 m (9,760 ft). It is also true that Nyiragongo lava lake has been the most voluminous lava lake in recent history.
Back in time in 1894 and 1977 that the crater contained an active lava lake whose walls on 10th January 1977 fractured, and the lava lake drained in less than an hour, it poured down the flanks of the volcano at a speed of up to 60 km/h, this was the fastest lava flow ever recorded on earth. The effect was that it claimed lives of over 70 people who were ignorant of what was happening. The incident was so serious that within 30 minutes, the lava lake had emptied, flowing north, south, and west of the volcano. This hazard was so unique and one of its kind in the area, in fact, there is nowhere else in the planet earth with such a steep-sided stratovolcano containing a lake of such fluid lava.
History repeated itself in 1977 when the eruption was proceeding by the formation of a small volcano named murara, a short distance away from the slopes.
On January 17th, 2002 the whole world witnessed another major eruption on Mount Nyiragongo, after many months of increased seismic activity. The event started when a 13km fissure opened in the southern part of the volcano, spreading in a few hours from 2800m to 1550m elevation and reaching the outskirts of the city of Goma, opposite the shores of Lake Kivu. Lava poured from three spatter cones at the end of the fissure and poured in a stream 200 to 1000m wide and up to 2m deep through Goma.
Fortunately, over 400,000 people were evacuated from the city across the Rwandan border into neighboring Gisenyi town in Rwanda, thus saving their lives. It was a real tragedy that saw lava cover the northern end of the runway at Goma International Airport, leaving the southern two-thirds usable, and rising fears that this lava might cause gas-saturated waters deep in lake Kivu to suddenly rise to the surface.
Despite all the happenings, the tourism activities on this historic destination are going on well, though confined to the crater where another lava lake has formed about 250 meters below and sitting over 11,000 feet high. The volcano’s caldera is approximately one-mile-wide holding a deep lava lake; it is very suitable for hiking activities as one climbs to the top of the volcano to just witness the effusive lava at the summit.
Hiking Mount Nyiragongo
One doesn’t need to be a sports person or an experienced hiker but rather in good health to hike this towering volcano, all you need is a winning spirit. Nyiragongo hiking activities start at 10am, lasting for about 5-6 hours. It takes hikers two days to reach and return from the summit that is 11,400 feet high. Food and shelter is well catered for and will be served at specific resting huts on the slopes of the mountain and dinner and overnight stay will be at the mountain huts on the crater rim. Porters are available for hire and ready to render assistance where necessary.
Just like other mountains, ensure that you carry warm clothes, strong hiking shoes, insect repellants, and possibly a sleeping bag. Other hiking equipment may be hired at the ranger station.
Accessing Mount Nyiragongo
Mount Nyiragongo is hiked all year round and also very accessible from Kigali, Rwanda and other destinations in Rwanda and southern Uganda. Commence the journey from Kigali or from the Gisenyi town in Rwanda, and within about 30mins drive, reach Goma boarder post in Democratic Republic of Congo. Then Drive from more 25mins to Virunga national park where Mount Nyiragongo is situated.
Basing on the recent testimonies and feedbacks, no one has ever regretted Hiking Nyiragongo, don’t hesitate to take a step, the destination officials are ready to take you through the most memorial experience while on this adventure.