Nyiragongo mountain is in the Democratic Republic of Congo 12 miles (19km) north of the town of Goma and lake Kivu and just west of the border with Rwanda. Mountain Nyiragongo is part of the eight chains of the Virunga mountains along the Western branch of East African Rift system and contains 2kilometers wide summit crater 820 feet (250m) deep with a crater lake that has been active since 1971. Nyiragongo mountain is an active volcano with an elevation of 3470 meters (1185 feet) in the Virunga mountains associated with the Albertine Rift and is a stratovolcano with some older craters noted for their plant life. The volcanoes lower forested slopes are a home to a variety of animals including the Chimpanzees, several species of the monkeys, 3 horned chameleon, bush bucks, wild pigs, warthogs and series of bird species making the hike to the top of the mountain all more rewarding and interesting.
The 2km wide filled with viscous lava that boils beneath the volcano vent, u can see the lava from the 2 realm of lava that forms coiled benches of the lava within the crater walls of the Nyiragongo volcano. One realm is raised about 3175 meters and the second one elevates about 2975 meters above the sea level. The temperature at the volcano’s summit frequently drops below freezing with occasional high winds and rain therefore you are reminded to carry adequate rain and cold weather gears like the jackets, gloves, stocking, head gear.
Hiking on mountain Nyiragongo.
Hiking on mountain Nyiragongo is being led by two armed ranger guides. One goes before the team and the other follows the group to ensure safety. The guide sets time for you to rest during the hike to the summit of about 15 to 20 minutes. The resting time shouldn’t exceed 20 minutes because you have to finish up the hike on the top. The hike on mountain Nyiragongo can last about two days involving ascending up the mountain and descending down from the mountain. The hike to the top of the mountain takes about 10hours over a distance of 10miles to the top of the mountain.
Hiking the mountain starts very early in the morning at 8am and by the drop of the dusk you will be at the top of Nyiragongo and while at the top you will get a chance to experience the night view of the bubbling crater full of red hot lava. At the summit of the mountain there are a few camping cottages where you can spend over a night waiting for tomorrow to descend the mountain. The night at the top of the mountain is scary and at the same time an amazing and adventurous experience since there is smoke from the bubbling crater and hot red flashes from the lava crater and supplemented with the start sky.
The next morning is a time to descend the summit of the mountain and is still about 20 miles however descending is not as tiresome as climbing up the mountain and you will be rewarded with primates, snakes, butterflies, bird species and animals.
Nyiragongo mountain is divided into five sections with a 15 to 20 minutes break at each stop. Hikers commence to ascend at the Kibati ranger post at an altitude of 1870 meters and reach the summit at 3470 meters with a 6.5kilometers each way. The first section involves hiking in the lower altitude which takes the hikers through a dense forest at the base of Nyiragongo and its is this area that hikers are encouraged to keep a look out for the wildlife and those who are not fit its is this area that they quit from. The forest ascends you up into the second section takes you through the open skied trails which offers you with beautiful views of the valley below and this part you will deal with the small loose lava rocks and those with the good hiking boots will pass through this section, third section takes you across the old lava which flows the past steaming volcanic fissures. The hikers have now to deal with not only the small loose rocks but slipper stones and the difficult conditions of higher altitude. After entering the high montane forest you transverse the fourth segment and by the time you reach the 4th section the mountain slopes get steeper and steeper with great coldness due to high altitude and the fifth sections is the steepest but also the shortest with 300m to the summit.
Hiking Nyiragongo mountain one has to have purchased the hiking permit from the Virunga national park directly or through a tour operator like Journeys Uganda. The hiking permit cost 300dollars. Hiking on mountain Nyiragongo one has to have attained the required documentation like getting a visa to Congo which costs 105dollars per person an before one applies for the Visa you need to first acquire a hiking permit. Apart from the Visa you need to have a the documentation that will allow you to cross the border from Rwanda including an invalid passport, yellow fever vaccination card, covid 19 vaccination card. And the minimum age of those allowed to hike is 12 years.
What to pack.
A rain jacket to protect you from getting wet when it rains and woolen jacket keep your warm
Suitable hiking boots should have a good grip with rubber soles, water proof, comfortable and light weight and be able to keep you warm.
Warm clothes including long sleeved shirts and sweaters, long trousers, stockings, gloves and head sock.
Carry a sleeping bag since it takes about 2 days to hike the mountain so you will have to sleep over.
Packed lunch and enough water.
Hiring a porter at the base of the volcano which costs 15 dollars per day. For an interesting hike you need someone to help with the luggage.
A hat and a sun cream.
A camera to help you capture the attractions and moment and should have extra batteries and a binoculars to help you zoom and see clearly the attractions.
A back pack to keep in your belongings like the gadgets, torch.
During the hiking the following should be considered before you think of embarking on the journey
- One has to be in good shape. This involves in having the fitness levels. Since this involves walking a distance and on the steep slopes, forests.
- Mental preparedness. One has to have prepared his or her minds in order to finish up the hike that no matter how and what nothing can stop them from achieving the goal of reaching the summit.
Note one hiking has to be having a hiking stick which provides support to the hikers.
Geology of the Nyiragongo mountain.
Nyiragongo mountain is 19 kilometers north of Goma town and lake Kivu and just west of the border with Rwanda. And stands over two volcanoes known as Barati and Shaheru also surrounded by many other volcanic cones from the numerous eruptions over a long time. Volcanic eruptions at Nyiragongo is caused by the rifting of the earth’s crust where two parts of the African plates are breaking apart. A hot spot is probably also partly responsible for the great activity at Nyiragongo mountain. Mountain Nyiragongo emits heavy fumes which cover up the atmosphere above the summit, the smoke consists of fluid lava which is made up of the chemical such as melilite and nephelite which forms an alkaline rich rock type. The lava from mountain Nyiragongo moves terribly fast down the hill at up to 100km per hour unlike other volcanic lava which flows slowly and causes little damage.
Mountain Nyiragongo has a consistent lava river that flows at a fast speed from the crack on one side of the mountain. This acts as a warning to the people of a sudden eruption any time and there is constant fear in the people living near the mountain
In 1977 the eruption emptied the leave lake in just an hour as lava flowed down the hill 60km per hour flowing west , north and south of the mountain and this has been recorded the fastest lava flow from the mountain and the volcano formed a smaller new volcano near the slopes of mountain Nyamuragira called Murara.
How to get to mountain Nyiragongo.
From Kigali international airport you can board an airport taxi to Gisenyi port on Lake Kivu. From Gisenyi it I’ll take you about 30 minutes to cross to Goma town in Congo. Mountain Nyiragongo is located about a distance of 9miles from Goma still you can choose a public transportation like a bus though it may take a lot of time. Visitors I’ll be driven for 20km to the border between Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo before crossing to Goma.