Mountain Nyiragongo is a magnificent active volcano that features the world’s largest lava lake making it one of the few volcanoes in Africa that offers some of the top hiking and climbing possibilities. Standing as one of the great geological mysteries in the history of volcanic expedition is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo inside the greater Virunga National park about 20kms north of the town of Goma and lake Kivu just on the western border of Rwanda. Goma lies on the northern shores of Lake Kivu only one kilometer from the Rwandan border next to the town of Gisenyi.
The beautiful strato volcano is famous for persistent active volcanic activity in it’s huge crater Lake on top of the summit any volcanic enthusiast would look no further but to peer down into the churning lava lake and see, hear hot gases exploding up gives you a chance of rare photography. Although predictable and safe for tourists, the time required to reach the summit depends on the normal fitness of each group of visitors. The topography changes in stages right through the climb, thick jungle filled with very big ant colonies and open out trees that house some reptiles.
The volcano’s forested lower slopes are a home to a variety of animals such as the bushbucks, the blue monkeys, colobus monkeys and baboons including man’s closest ape the chimpanzees offers a thrilling opportunity to experience the far-reaching views of the western arm of the Albertine rift while emerging up to the ascent of a 1.2 km diameter summit teemed with devoid vegetation of heathers and ferns recovering from the remarkable violent volcanic eruptions that left thousands of people homeless in the nearby town of Goma in the year 2002.
From the moment you land at Kigali International Airport in Rwanda, take a three hour taxi drive crossing Gisenyi town via Ruhengeri to the Rwanda – Congolese border way to the near by town of Goma. Ruhengeri is a best part you may wish to visit, while in Gisenyi you could also desire to have a boat cruise at Lake Kivu. Drive forward for about one and a half hours to Mikeno lodge less than an hour to kibati patrol post.
Treks to the summit of Nyiragongo begin at the kibati patrol post early in the morning of course after your breakfast approximately 30 minutes by car from Goma town.
The hike takes about 4 to 6 hours to climb the summit that begins at an altitude of about 1,989 meters to 3,470 meters above sea level. Guaranteed by experienced guides who will lead all your treks after checking your complete hiking and cold weather gear including packed meals, proper hydration and take preventive measures from your physician for those prone to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) because of the change in altitude. Before you make the climb, make sure you have packed accordingly since there is no food service on top of Nyiragongo to be rewarding as it is demanding. Hired porters will help carry heavy bags not greater than the recommended15 kg which will make your trek more pleasurable than you expect.
Fortunately for fitter people it is possible to climb up and descend in one day. On one occasion you will reach the top of Nyiragongo after a walk through the lava rocks you are guaranteed to have extensive views of the Virunga mountains National Park. A fine early evening dinner and overnight stay at Nyiragongo Cabins built on the edge of the lava lake will introduce you to a new beginning in the late dark hours once again to view the dim brittle outside of lava, the merging and cracking lava rocks. Seeing rock plates separate and unbelievably create a spider-web like pattern typically makes Nyiragongo Lava Lake unique with attention-grabbing views you will ever wonder in a lifetime.
After everyone has had a strenuous climb through Nyiragongo’s magma rocks and the rim of tropical forested slopes, descend from the summit back to Goma city for an overnight at Mikeno lodge with the breathtaking scenery of Lake Kivu.
An early breakfast will lead you to take a short tour of Goma city not only to get insight into the most destructive impacts of the unforgotten 2002 lava eruptions that left the city similar to a ruined town with cars and buildings trapped in magma but also have final backdrop views of mount Nyiragongo since Goma is in the shadow of the strato volcano simply dazzling.
The bright modern feel of this bustling and mixed city reflects the ongoing economic growth and political stability on the Rwanda – Congolese border characterized by safe visits of tourists and partly the remarkably low level of crime and hassle directed at tourists. Although predictable and therefore safe for tourists, Nyiragongo is greatly feared during eruptions. Thanks to the dedication of certain conservationists, politicians and park rangers.
Enjoy your lunch in Goma waiting to be transported back to Gisenyi hotel have an overnight expecting to be transferred the next morning to Kigali International Airport for your flight connection where your memorable tour ends.
When to visit Mountain Nyiragongo
The Democratic Republic of Congo tends to experience two seasons, the dry and wet seasons therefore the best time to visit the Nyiragongo volcano is all year round but keep in mind there is unpredictable weather changes such as regular rains during certain months of the year because Nyiragongo is in the middle of equatorial rain forests. For example in mid – March to May and as well as November tends to be a rainy season. The dry season however begins in June – October and also December.
Depending on the season of the year you would like to visit Nyiragongo, there are certain advantages and disadvantages associated. During the rainy season the skies are always clear giving you a chance to enjoy and take photographs of the stunning landscape views of the greater Virunga mountains national park. To a disadvantage rain will frequently make you wet and walk on troubling slippery terrain on your way to the summit of the volcano.
During the dry season, you are likely not to encounter much rain but you are likely to feel the dust polluted air which at times is not safe for visitors who are not used to such extreme weather conditions, it may result in un desired conditions such as cough or improper breathing a reason why as an individual you should seek medical assistance from your physician before you travel.
Getting to Mountain Nyiragongo Volcano
Mount Nyiragongo volcano can easily be accessed and bother less through Rwanda taking a pleasure in a beautiful 3 hour drive from Kigali international Airport all the way through the land of a thousand hills to arrive at the port of Gisenyi on Lake Kivu have an overnight at Paradis Malahide just about 7 km from Gisenyi and enjoy the beautiful views across Lake Kivu. Your local will always ensure safe border crossing.
Concerning cross border security in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the security divisions and greater Virunga park management is there to protect and provide information regarding safe and unsafe routes hence you are advised to always seek information before you make travel plans. The insecurity threat and negative image that was posed by rebel groups such as the M23 in recent years has been restored by the rangers who carry out regular patrols to ensure the trails are safe for tourists therefore safe for tourists.
Through the town of Goma – Rumangabo early in the morning after your breakfast quickly transfer to the kibati border patrol post just about 30 minute drive from Goma town at the bottom of mount Nyiragongo where the trekking commences at 9:00 am. The ascent up Nyiragongo takes approximately four to six hours is backbreaking and habitually in humid and rough conditions, save for the trail is reasonably simple and not extremely steep; expecting to see rare species of birds and animals such as monkeys, bushbucks and chimpanzees alongside the track and the sight whilst you arrive at the apex, is eye-catching.