Located in the Virunga National Park (Known for mountain gorilla trekking in Congo), just near the Congo and Rwanda border, Nyiragongo volcano is incredibly one of the world’s most powerful/active volcanoes. Mt. Nyiragongo is a stratovolcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, rising at altitude of 3470m and a depth of its Lava Lake 600 meters.
Nyiragongo’s magma chamber/caldera is about 1-mile-wide and the caldera holds the bubbling Lava Lake. A hike to Nyiragongo Volcano is a great chance to explore its powerful Lava Lake, formation, and other interesting facts.
Mount Nyiragongo has had a series of eruptions with the most recent one recorded in May 2021. This stratovolcano is part of the 8 Virunga Massifs/Volcanoes lying within the Virunga Conservation Area. Adjacent to Nyiragongo volcano is two other scenic mountains- Mount Shaheru and Baratu. Mount Nyiragongo is found along the Albertine Rift Valley, approximately 20kms away from Goma Town. It formed as a result of volcanic eruptions, 1000 years ago.
Mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano and hiking to its summits takes up to 6 hours starting from Kibati. The summit of Nyiragongo features a beautiful caldera of 1.5kms to 2kms holding the largest Lava Lake in the world with a depth of up to 600m. In addition, there are exist 2 cooled Lava benches within the Crater- 3175m bench and 2975m.
Geology of Nyiragongo Volcano- Congo
Nyiragongo Mountain formed due to an eruption many years ago. The volcano has had over 35 eruptions since 1882 and the most recent of all was recorded in May 2021. Its Lava is made of Melilite Nephelinite. Unlike other volcanic eruptions, during volcanic activity at Nyiragongo Volcano the lava flow is slightly faster the fact that the volcano contains low silica content.
Nyiragongo volcano releases heavy fumes comprising of smoke, and fluid Lava with varied chemicals- Melilite & Nephelinite which make up a rock endowed with Alkaline. Other volcanoes in Virunga National Park include Mount Nyamuragira, Mikeno, Karisimbi, Sabyinyo and Bisoke.
Preparation for Nyiragongo Volcano hiking
To participate in hiking Nyiragongo volcano, you need a permit which you can book early via a fully registered tour operator or park authorities. Pack appropriately including sturdy hiking boots, valid documents, hand gloves, walking stick, rain jacket/poncho, daypack, camera, medical kit, insect repellent, and sunscreen.
Health status- Hiking Nyiragongo volcano can be done by any able-bodied hiker on Congo safari tour. A physical fitness level is needed to achieve a successful hiking experience in Nyiragongo Volcano in Congo. You will require plenty of drinks especially bottled drinking water and snacks to keep you fit throughout your trek to and from the summits.
Hiking time: All hikes to Nyiragongo volcano Congo begin with briefing at Kibati ranger post before 9:00am. At 10:00am, hikers start the hike to the summits of Nyiragongo taking you about 6 hours depending on your physical fitness.
Location of Nyiragongo volcano
Mount Nyiragongo is lying within the Congo Virunga National Park, 20kms North of Goma town close to border of Congo and Rwanda. It is reachable from Goma in Congo or drive from Kigali cross over to Virunga NP.
Is Nyiragongo Volcano safe to visit?
A series of eruptions have occurred on Mount Nyiragongo and it includes the May 2021 eruption. Regardless of the numerous eruptions, there are several village settlements at the foothills of Nyiragongo volcano. The densely vegetated hillsides host variety of animal species including monkeys, antelopes, birds etc.
How deep is the Crater Lake on Nyiragongo Volcano?
Nyiragongo Crater Lake’s depth isn’t certain since it keeps on changing depending on the magma emitted. The crater is estimated to be 600m deep and within it, there exist various features that were created during the previous Lava levels.
How many times has Mt. Nyiragongo erupted?
Since 1882, Nyiragongo volcano has recorded a series of eruptions about 35 times including the May 2021 recent eruptions. The 2002 eruption is believed to have claimed over 150 lives. The presence of Alkaline, Melilite and Nephelinite make the Lava flow on Mount Nyiragongo faster than other usual Lava flows. The 1977 eruption occurred when the Crater Lake was 10700ft deep, the deepest ever of all the eruptions on Mount Nyiragongo.
Physical levels required for hiking Nyiragongo volcano
Some physical fitness is required if you are to conquer the summits of Nyiragongo volcano 3470m. You will need at least 3 days to make it to the summits and return- first day will be for traveling then hike the second day and descend the following day. However, there are porters to assist carrying luggage as you enjoy your hike to the summits.
Hiking permits for Mt. Nyiragongo- D.R. Congo
On actual Nyiragongo hike, valid permits are required and each permit costs about USD 300 per hiker on Congo hiking safari in Virunga National Park. The hiking permit cost includes guide fees, hiking adventure and excludes transportation, porter fees, meals, accommodation and others. The permits and hiking tours can be booked through the ground tour operator who also can arrange transportation to and from Nyiragongo volcano.
Best time to go for hiking Nyiragongo volcano
Hiking Nyiragongo Volcano is possible all year-round. However, the dry season offers the most favorable conditions for hiking through Nyiragongo Mountain. The 2 dry seasons often occur in Virunga National Park Congo that is from June to August and December to February.
Getting to Mt. Nyiragongo
By road, Nyiragongo volcano in Congo is reachable using a 4×4 rental car- drive from Kigali crossing over the border to Goma in D.R. Congo. Goma town to Mount Nyiragongo is 9 miles. By air, you can take a flight up to Goma airport and drive up to Virunga NP where Nyiragongo is found.
Where to stay?
There are many accommodation options to retire for the night around Mt Nyiragongo but at the summits, visitors stay in Nyiragongo volcano summit shelters. Other nearby accommodation choices at the base of this volcano include Bukima Tented Camp, Mikeno Lodge, La Kivu Lodge, Lulimbi Tented Camp, Kivu Serena Hotel, Ihusi Hotel and others.