Bwindi Forest National Park Uganda

Climb Mount Nyiragongo Volcano

Mount Nyiragongo, the world’s deadliest Volcano

The Nyiragongo is one of the largest most spectacular active volcanos in the world with a caldera summit having a diameter of 1.2 kilometers with steep sided walls making it the largest active lava lake in the world. Today the volcano stands at the height of 3,470 meters high and has seen a number of volcano actions causing lava to flow downhill to the neighboring Goma settlements found on the foothills. Nyiragongo today is listed as one of the deadliest and most dangerous volcanoes in the world

Where is Mt Nyiragongo located?

Nyiragongo Volcano is located within the Virunga National Park in the Democratic republic of Congo approximately 20 km north of the town of Goma on the border of Congo and Rwanda, and today it is among the most active volcanoes worldwide. it is at a height of more than 11,000 feet and it’s caldera peak or call it the magma chamber is nearly 1 mile wide and it’s in there that a deep lake of lava is found. The mountain has not been exhaustively studied by scientists because of political unrest with neighboring area

Is it safe to visit Mount Nyiragongo?

considering the various Mount Nyiragongo eruptions that this volcano has experienced over the years including the recent one in 2022, one would consider that this is among the few places on Earth that are not inhibited by people since it has the largest fluid lava lake in the world. surprisingly the lower slopes of Mount Nyiragongo are populated with a large number of people living in Village settlements while it’s densely forested lower slopes are habitats to various animals among which are chimpanzees, bushbucks, various types of monkeys, different bird species and the unique 3 horned chameleon.

The Geology of Mount Nyiragongo

this mountain releases very heavy fumes that envelop the atmosphere over the peak, with the smoke comprising of fluid lave that consist of different chemicals including nephilinite and melilite that form a type of rock that is rich in alkaline. The Nyiragongo volcanic field is encompassed by other volcanic fields that include seven other volcanoes including Mikeno and Karisumbi; as well as Lake Kivu. Currently the Volcanic Lake is surrounded by a ring and the lava levels occasionally swells beyond this ring and flows down to the caldera floor. Because of the steep sided nature of Mount Nyiragongo Volcano slopes the fluid lava usually flows downhill at a high speed above sixty meters per hour (60 mph) which makes it extremely challenging for the people and the wildlife around to escape from this lava during instances of overflow through the crater walls.

How deep is the Nyiragongo Crater Lake?

the depths of the crater remains unknown as its changes depending on the amount of magma emitted from below, however it is estimated to be at a depth of 600 meters. Within the crater are a number of platforms that were formed by the previous lava levels, with the first platform closest to the rim estimated to be 20 meters from the top room and it was formed by the lava levels back in 1973. below that is another platform  which is about 40 meters lower and was formed in 1995 by the lava lake which drained to the neighboring area after it erupted in 2002. Present the caldera lava flow is estimated to be between 430 meters to 410 meters below from the ring of the volcano.

When Did the Congo Nyiragongo Volcano become active?

The exact time when this volcano became active remains unknown however occasional bubbling, discharge of fire, clouds of smoke and even bursting of the crater walls for the lava to flow downhill have happened for several years although the first recording of eruption was recorded in 1882

How many times does Mount Nyiragongo Erupt?

The Nyiragongo Volcano is up-to-date still active and it is believed to have erupted more than 34 times since way back in 1882, with the most recent eruption having occurred in 2002 and claimed 147 lives. Today volcano activity is still happening although it is confined within the crater with the level of the lava slowly swelling up inside the cater. back in 1977 the walls of this crater burst open and the molten lava flowed downhill and within a duration of less than one hour reached the nearby villages flowing at a speed of approximately 60 mph. the death toll that was officially reported was seventy (70) however it’s alleged that the number was far higher than this.

One would wonder why does the Nyiragongo lava flow very fast?

well unlike the usual lava Flow the presence of volcanic rock rich in alkaline as well as melilite nephelinite on this mountain, form an exceptionally fluid consistency that makes the lava move at great speed such that it cannot be easily overcome by anything it finds in its way. The eruption in 1977 happened when the crater Lake was at a depth of 10,700 feet – the deepest depth ever documented, however as earlier mentioned the depth of the Lake depends one of the amount of Lava in it.

How to get to Mount Nyiragongo?

The journey to Mount Nyiragongo begins in Gisenyi town found in Rwanda and it takes about 30 minutes drive to cross the border into Goma town in Congo which is the nearest to this mountain. From Goma it is approximately 9 miles to the volcano and it is here that all hiking adventures on Mount Nyiragongo are based.

The mountain can be accessed they either hiring a taxi from Virunga National Park which costs about $20 or by using your own private vehicle.

Hiking Mount Nyiragongo

Mount Nyiragongo Climbs normally begin in the early morning and hikers are encouraged to be at the starting point by 9 a.m. it is for that reason that you are highly advised to spend the night in Goma town to give you ample time to prepare adequately for you hike. You can hike Nyiragongo before or after Congo gorilla trekking safaris.

There are a few things that you will be required to have to hike the mountain and these include a yellow fever vaccination certificate as proof of receiving the vaccine shot you will also need a climbing permit and this costs about $300 per hiker. This you can book directly at the National Park or through a tour company who may give you a round cost figure of about $1,000 including the permit, porter services as well as your meals

Do I need to be physically fit to climb Mount Nyiragongo?

the most recommended tour up the mountain takes just 3 days for that reason you don’t have to be athletic to ascend the mountain, however good health condition is required to successfully make it to the summit. Also keep in mind that the mountain surface is not generally even as it is characterized with volcano rocks, and the altitude as well is generally high so signs like dizziness, feeling tired as well as losing courage are likely to happen.

Always keep in mind that the peak is at a height of 11,400 feet so the choice will be yours either to hike slowly or at a fast pace. with the Porter giving you luggage assistance, the success rate registered on Mount Nyiragongo is very high

What to pack for a Mount Nyiragongo Hike?

Warm Clothing: Similar to any mountain across the world the temperatures on Mount Nyiragongo vary from the warm temps on the lower slopes to the very cold temps closer to the summit. it’s for that reason that you are highly advised to pack enough warm clothing and please do not be misguided by the fact that there is a volcano on the peak and you assume that the temperatures are warm up there. Without enough warm clothing, instances of freezing are very high.

Change of clothes: during the wet season that normally runs from March to May and again in the month of November, the mountain receives large amounts of rainfall and for that reason, you are highly advised to pack a change of clothes.

A sleeping bag: a sleeping bag is another highly advise item as this comes handy especially as you sleep on the thin and not insulated mattresses that are provided in the huts up the mountain.

Good hiking boots: this is another requirement and they should offer adequate ankle support considering that the terrain on the mountain is rocky and uneven

Prescription for altitude sickness: to deal with altitude sickness you are advised to get proper prescription for diamox

Enough Drinking water: please remember to pack enough drinking water up the mountain because you need to keep your body well hydrated; a reusable water bottle is greatly suggested

Accommodation on Mount Nyiragongo, Where to stay

a hike on this active volcano includes a night spent on the summit and the type of accommodation offered up the mount are basic huts that are constructed using special material that helps to keep the people inside the huts dry and warm. these facilities are more basic compared to those found on the foothills of the mountain. some of the accommodation you can use at the foothill include Kivu Serena Hotel this costs about $210, hotel Paradis Malahide $90, Tiloreza Volcanoes Ecolodge that cost  $130

A 3-Day  Nyiragongo Mountain Hike

Day 1: Gisenyi to Goma, Congo

Day 2: Nyiragongo Hike

Day 3: Descend, departure

The actual hike begins at an elevation of 6,510 ft which implies that you will hike up the mountain covering an area of about 10 miles. as you ascend there will be short stops for about 20 minutes to allow your rest and the pace that you will follow will be determined by the slowest climber in the group. All mountain climbs on Mount Nyiragongo are led by highly skilled park guides who are accompanied by two armed rangers one taking the lead and the other at the back of the group, a cook and then a group of porter who will assist you with your luggage. At all times the hikers will move as a group and normally the climb is slow giving you enough time to allow your bodies to acclimatize. the weather up the mountain with definitely not be constant but may vary from sunny to Misty in a short while. another thing that is worth pointing out is that because sometimes the summit of the volcano is covered with mist there are chances that you may or may not see the lava in the crater

How much is a Mount Nyiragongo hike cost?

Persons interested in Hiking Mount Nyiragongo can organize their tours through a travel agency or may book for this adventure directly through the national park. Services booed through a tour company are slightly higher as compared to when you are doing it yourself. Fortunately there are a number of porters available for hire who will help you carry all you bags, hiking gear and other personal items and these make cost about $24

Best time to visit hike mount Nyiragongo

The best time to visit Mount Nyiragongo Congo is during the dry season that runs from the month of December to Mid-March, as well as from mid-June to the month of September. During this time of the year the temperatures are somewhat bearable as compared to those in the wet season and there is less mist on the summit which will give you clearer views into the lava crater.

The average temperatures experienced up the mountain range between 10°C to 30°C with the lowest temperatures being 8°C while the maximum is 31°C.