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Home » Congo National Parks | National Parks In Parks | Congo Safari Parks » Mount Nyiragongo Volcano Congo, Nyiragongo Hiking Safaris & Tours

Mount Nyiragongo Volcano Congo, Nyiragongo Hiking Safaris & Tours

Mount Nyiragongo Volcano is an active stratovolcano with an elevation of 3,470m within the Virunga Mountains associated with the Albert Rift. The Mount Nyiragongo hiking safari tours take you to the world's most powerful active volcano within Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo north of Goma and Lake Kivu.

Mount Nyiragongo Volcano is part of the chain of eight volcanoes in the Great Rift Valley which is known as the Virunga volcanic chain. Other volcanoes include Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Sabyinyo, Mikeno, Gahinga, and Nyamuragira.

Being one of the world’s largest active volcanoes, the Nyiragongo volcano lava lake is very fascinating and impressive among all lava lakes. Nyiragongo has the world’s largest lava lake bubbling within its summit crater.

Congo Mount Nyiragongo vented on May 22nd, 2021, when the fractures opened up in the volcano’s rocky sides, spilling fast-moving lava down its slopes. This major eruption was massive and that’s why Benoît Smets, a geohazards expert at the Royal Museum for Central Africa calls it one of the most dangerous volcanoes in Africa.

The eruption is due to many storm factors and the lava is remarkably fluid and moves up to 40 miles an hour sending large amounts of lethal carbon dioxide gas to the surface.

Goma Volcano Observatory is responsible for the volcano with the help of scientists. Despite, the eruption, Nyiragongo remains a top attraction in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This amazing stratovolcano containing the world’s largest lava lake offers the best hiking experiences.

The volcano’s lower forested slopes are home to a variety of animals that you can see during your ascent like Chimpanzees, monkey species, and myriad bird species.

For a better experience, climbing Nyiragongo volcano can be combined with Gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park giving you unforgettable memories all in one trip.

Mount Nyiragongo Just Erupted—Here’s Why It’s One of Africa’s Most Dangerous Volcanoes

This Mount Nyiragongo Volcano/mountainous volcano is one of the places in the world that has a lake of lava bubbling within its summit crater. Nyiragongo opened up its fissures in the volcano’s rocky sides spilling fast-moving lava down its slopes to the ground.

During the volcanic activity, some of the lava headed toward Goma city which displaced around 1.5 million people. The sky shimmered with a cherry hue as lava piled and speedily invaded the streets of several villages surrounding Goma city and swallowed several villages.

The past disasters have left volcanologists nervous every time Nyiragongo shows signs of life and that’s why Benoît Smets an expert at the Royal Museum says that it is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in Africa.

Nyiragongo’s reputation is due to a perfect storm of factors. Its lava is amazingly fluid moving at a high speed and the eruptions can send large amounts of lethal carbon dioxide gas to the surface.

Goma Volcano Observatory is responsible for monitoring the volcanic activity with the help of scientists though there were no signals detected before its latest eruption and there is an impending eruption to expect.

Volcano Nyiragongo: Lava Lake in Congo

Mount Nyiragongo Volcano is part of the 8 Volcanoes chain in the Great Rift Valley, known as the Virunga Volcanic chain. Its eruption style of choice is Hawaiian eruptions, and the generation of lava lakes and lava flows of particularly low-thickness basaltic lava.

On the eruption, solidified basalt plates form on the surface of the largest lava lake. The basalt plates float on the lake surface and are punctuated by cracks of red-hot lava.

Also, these plates isolate the lava lake so that molten lava remains liquid below the surface for a long time. The feeding rate of fresh material is as with most lava lakes relatively low though the heat flow from the interior of the earth which is higher than in most volcanoes.

Between 1923 and 1977, there was a lava lake which vented, and the lava lake flowed through a large fissure vent. There were massive lava flows. In the year of 2002, Congo Mount Nyiragongo vented again flowing with a stream of lava on the slopes destroying several villages before flowing into the Kivu Lake.

Since that year, a new lava lake has boiled in the crater of Nyiragongo Volcano, and the Goma volcano observatory is on watch of the mountain and other lava lakes for any impending eruption with the help of scientists.

The New Lava Lake in the Crater of Nyiragongo

The summit of Nyiragongo is dominated by a crater having a diameter of 1.2km with lava bubbling since 2005 making it the biggest in the world. The lava lake was roughly 800m below the main crater rim and rose to 450m below the crater rim by 2011.

Many terraced plateaus in the crater show the status of earlier lava lakes. At many times of the day, there are periods of increased activity in the lava lake related to the development of lava fountains.

This lava lake level increases slowly by about 10m before it sinks again relatively fast forming lava fountains which are about 12m high.

The lava lake surface is in constant movement caused on the one hand by convection. As the level of the lava lake changes, crustal plates and fountains move to the eastern side of the crater rim, where there appears to be a discharge into the magma chamber. This second process appears to be related to the variation in the lava lake level.

The vent from which lava rises seems to be well-kept in the northwestern third of the lava lake. The recent pictures show that the crustal plates form on the largest lava lake spread radially from one point.

Climbing Mount Nyiragongo: A Hike to the World’s Largest Lava Lake

Climbing Nyiragongo can be challenging for those who are not prepared enough and not physically healthy enough. One needs to be ready to deal with the steep slopes and rugged terrain.

There are porters that you can hire from the Kibati Ranger post. The ascent starts with a briefing at 9 am with assembling the whole team including cooks and other participants in the hike.

You should know that there are five segments when climbing Mt Nyiragongo. The first section of the ascent involves climbing through a region at a lower altitude. This first section at one point requires only those who are mentally or physically prepared.

After the first section, you can have a major stop after some hours of the hike, and this is when altitude increases bringing more challenges.

In the second segment of the ascent, one has to deal with small loose lava rocks, however, it is easier to go through the region when in good hiking boots.

After accomplishing the second part, you then have to deal with not only the small loose lava rocks but also slippery stones and challenging conditions of higher altitude. By the time you ascend to the fourth segment, the Mountain slopes become steeper and steeper with greater cold due to high altitude.

There is much coldness, and it is common to find rain in the section. The final part is the steepest but also the shortest. While here, you can see cabins which give more motivation to hikers.

Those who can reach this level are allowed to complete the rest of the ascent at their own comfortable pace. You then reach the summit and enjoy the remarkable sightings of the boiling world’s largest lava lake for hours which can be a highlight of your life.

Getting Down

After marveling at the world’s largest lava lake with boiling lava and magma, it is the initial time to descend Mountain Nyiragongo. If you are descending faster, it can take about three hours to reach the starting point though it is a bit challenging.

You need to be curious enough so that you don’t get hurt by the sharp rocks. When descending Mountain Nyiragongo, you get clear sightings of Virunga National Park and other distant volcanoes and many amazing things in the region. You also get views of the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda, the Rwandan city, and Lake Kivu.

How to Climb Mount Nyiragongo on a Budget

Climbing Nyiragongo is easier to enjoy on a budget than Mountain Gorilla trekking in Congo. This is because you don’t need to stay in the Democratic Republic of the Congo the night before your climb.

Arrangements can be made so that you are picked up from the border straight to the starting point the same morning which is less than an hour. Permits for climbing Mt Nyiragongo are $300 through Virunga National Park and it is inclusive of accommodation in the cabins at the top.

You can also hire a porter to help you carry your backpack at around $24. You can also spend an extra $100 to get the gear with a meal package. With the package, there is a warm sleeping bag and liner, a rain jacket, and a fleece, and you also get snacks, 5 liters of water, and a delicious three-course meal cooked for you in a warm hut at the top.

If your budget is so tight, then you can skip any extras and just pay for the permit to ascent to the world’s largest lava lake within hours.

The Best Time to Hike Nyiragongo

Hiking Nyiragongo volcano can be done all year round though the dry season is the most preferred by visitors. The dry season is usually between June and September and also December, January, and February.

The rainy seasons make the slopes slippery making it challenging for hikers to climb the Nyiragongo region. There is also better lighting when you reach the summit for photographs of the lava lakes with a glimpse of the volcanic activity.

During this time, the daytime temperature is bearable compared to that of the wet season as there is less mist on the summit hence clear views of the lava crater.

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

Is It Safe to Visit Mount Nyiragongo?

Yes, it is to visit Mount Nyiragongo volcano despite the eruptions that this volcano has experienced over the years. It is one of the few places on earth one would think that it is not inhabited by people since it has the largest fluid lava in the world.

Surprisingly, the lower slopes of Nyiragongo region are populated with a large number of people living in village settlements while its densely forested lower slopes are habitats for various animals like Chimpanzees, Bushbucks, monkey species, and bird species.

The hours you spend at the summit with views of the lava lake can be your highlight of life.

What to Pack for Hiking Mount Nyiragongo

Visitors going to climb the Nyiragongo to see the world’s largest lava lake, one needs to be well-equipped and prepared. You need to carry the most essential items though don’t forget to travel light.

  • Decent hiking boots that are water-resistant
  • Multiple pairs of socks
  • Waterproof hiking pants
  • So many thermal clothes
  • A hat, a pair of gloves, and a scarf
  • A headlamp to wear at night
  • A dry bag

What Causes Nyiragongo to Erupt?

The eruption of Nyiragongo Volcano is said to be caused by tectonic plates near Lake Kivu. The rifting action of the Rift system makes pathways for magma to rise and create volcanoes.

Solid mantle material is rising from considerable depth to interact with the underbellies of the tectonic plates. Most magma has silica in it which is a compound that acts as a sort of skeleton in molten rock.

Scientists say, the less silica, and the less goopy the lava is once it erupts. The volcano’s magma is also particularly rich in carbon dioxide air. If carbon dioxide-rich magma is tapped by Nyiragongo, dangerous volumes of the gas may also gush leading to a major eruption.

Also, eruptions at Mt Nyiragongo happen when the pressure of accumulating magma or earthquakes force open fissures in the sides of the mountain that form the draining of the lava lake or eruption of magma.

Between eruptions, Nyiragongo’s summit crater tends to fill up with magma and it has been the case since the 2002 eruption. After

How to Get to Virunga National Park/The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Before traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, visitors need to first secure a hiking permit before applying for a Visa through Virunga National Park. You can travel to DRC by air to Goma airport or by road.

With your Visa, you will enter the country through the Grand Barrière border crossing between Gisenyi in Rwanda and Goma City in the DRC. It only takes four hours to get from the Rwandan city to Gisenyi though the distance is short the road network makes it longer due to slow driving.

Once you get to the border crossing, you will get stamped out of Rwanda, present your yellow fever card, and then get stamped into the DRC. The process is easy and quick as it takes less than an hour as you will not get any inconveniences.

Is Mount Nyiragongo Still Erupting?

Yes, Mountain Nyiragongo Volcano is still lively. Congo Nyiragongo erupted in May 2021 and its major attraction is the world’s largest lava lake roughly 2 kilometers wide located in the main crater. This lave lake is 250m deep and filled with liquid lava.

It is a stratovolcano meaning that it can erupt at any time.

When Was Mount Nyiragongo Last Eruption?

It was on May 22nd, 2021, leaving the world’s largest lava lake with fluid lava flows having basalt plates on the largest lava lake surface. This Africa’s most active volcano and most dangerous in the world had lava flow from the Mount Nyiragongo Volcano flowing to the northeast of Goma city in DRC.

What Is Mount Nyiragongo Famous For?

Mt Nyiragongo is known for its devastating eruptions. It is well known as an active volcano in eastern Africa and central Africa having the world’s largest lava lake. After the eruptions, molten lava flows to several villages and destroys them.

How Many People Died In 2002 Nyiragongo Eruption?

In the 2002 Nyiragongo eruption, about 245 people died in the eruption from asphyxiation by carbon dioxide and buildings collapsing due to lava and earthquakes.

Lava flows covered 13 percent of Goma city and the eruption resulted in the displacement of so many people.

Where Can the Nyiragongo Volcano Be Found?

Mt Nyiragongo is part of the Virunga Volcanic province within Zaire along the western branch of the East African Rift Valley.

It has a lava lake in its 1.2 km-wide summit crater floor that has been erupting since at least 1971.

How Many People Died in the 1977 Nyiragongo Eruption?

Nyiragongo had a deep summit crater floor with an active lava lake that, in 1977, catastrophically drained through its outer flanks.

In 1977, a highly fluid, swiftly moving lava flow that was flowing from the top lava lake to the ground caused the destruction of multiple communities and the death of 50 to 100 people as it surrounded them.

What is the meaning of Nyiragongo? | What does Nyiragongo mean?

Nyiragongo means Mountain of Fire and this volcano contains the largest active lava lake in the world.

What is the location of Mount Nyiragongo Volcano? | Where is Nyiragongo volcano located?

Mt Nyiragongo is located within Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo north of the city of Goma and Lake Kivu.

Did a Volcano Erupt in Congo?

Mount Nyiragongo Volcano vented in May 2021 leaving the world’s largest lava lake and molten lava flows on the slopes to the ground. After explosive volcanic eruptions, volcanic ash was formed.

How many people died in the Congo volcano?

About 32 people died in the volcano eruption. Lava flows out of the fissures left the slopes and surrounded the neighboring towns destroying people’s property, and the eruption resulted in the loss of lives of people in Goma City leaving others displaced.

What is the largest volcano in the Congo?

Nyiragongo volcano is the largest having the world’s largest lava lake and the basalt plates on the crater surface.

What volcano erupted in the Congo recently?

Congo Mount Nyiragongo Volcano erupted recently on May 22nd, 2021, and molten lava flowed out of the most dangerous volcanoes in Africa. Earthquakes were heard all day though no other signs were showing to be any eruptions.

In summary, Mount Nyiragongo volcano is one of the amazing places you need to visit on your African trip for great Congo hiking safari adventures hike to its summit to see lava lakes. You will the crater with a boiling lava lake that will give you endless memories.

You can combine a visit to the Nyiragongo volcano with trekking with Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park for a memorable life experience on your trip.