Hiking Mount Nyiragongo Volcano in Congo – Eruption, Entrance fees, Difficulty and Climbing Tips
Hiking Mount Nyiragongo volcano in Congo, a magnificent Stratovolcano sheltering the World’s Largest and one of the most breathtaking Lava Lakes need emotional and physical preparation. This outstanding Volcano is nestled within the borders of Virunga National Park, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and towers for over 3470 meters (11,385 feet) above sea level.
The magnificent Caldera of this Volcano is about 1.6 kilometers wide and boasts of a deep Lava lake. Mount Nyiragongo is believed to have erupted for over 40 times since the 1880s and the last eruption being on 22nd May 2021. For thrill seekers, grabbing the golden opportunity of hiking to the top of active Mount Nyiragongo to watch its bubbling Lava at the peak is a must-do. However before you embark on this unforgettable journey, read our guide to hiking Mount Nyiragongo;
How the Actual Nyiragongo hike is conducted
Before you even think of hiking Mount Nyiragongo, physical fitness is paramount although you don’t need to be an athlete and it takes only two days to complete. Therefore, the ideal package for the hike is 3 days Mount Nyiragongo Hike.
This invigorating hike is divided into five sections and also involves 15-minute breaks at each stop. These treks begin at 1870 meters above sea level with registration and briefing at Kibati Ranger Post to get acquainted with what to expect and guidelines of hiking. From 1870 meters, hikes continue until the highest peak at 3470 meters with about 6.5 kilometers of hiking each way.
The average time to ascend is 4-6 hours while descent takes averagely 4 hours. However, it should be noted that the average time taken to hike greatly depends on the pace/agility of hiking because the slowest person will determine the pace. The first section of hiking Mount Nyiragongo leads participants through the thick rainforest at the base of the Volcano where mammals such as bushbucks, elephants, monkeys and many others will be encountered.
As you ascend to the second section of Mount Nyiragongo Hike, open landscapes will be noticed and open skies characterize the stunning views of the valley below while the third section involves crossing Old Lava flows and transverse steaming Volcanic features. When you arrive the high montane forest, then you will have arrived the fourth section while the fifth (last) section is the final climb of 300 meters steep to the Lava Lake at the Peak.
The hike is undeniably physically demanding but once on the summit, the fatigue immediately disappears with the breathtaking views of the Volcano. It is a great achievement to take on the World’s largest Lava Lake characterized by molten red fire. Just like the saying “save the best for last” with spectacular views of sunset over Mount Nyiragongo as well as backdrop of stars.
Cost of Mount Nyiragongo Hiking
Several Tour Operators in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC offer private Safaris for Congo that also involve hiking Mount Nyiragongo. Aspects like transportation, booking permits, paying a Volcano staff to prepare meals, accommodation are booked on your behalf and you will pay commission and be required to hire a porter (extra fee). A permit for hiking Mount Nyiragongo costs only $300 per person per trek, which has to be paid some months in advance.
Best time of the year to hike mount Nyiragongo
Mount Nyiragongo experiences heavy rains during the wet season, from March to May and again in November making it challenging to maneuver through the muddy and slippery hiking trails. This however doesn’t mean hikes don’t happen given the fact that rain showers are experienced in the morning and evening hours. After all is said and done, majority of the hikes are conducted in the drier months-June to September and again December to February when hiking conditions are more favorable.
What to pack for Mount Nyiragongo hiking tour
Mount Nyiragongo hiking conditions greatly vary according to time of the year but you have to pack everything required for a hike. Much as there is a hot blazing Lava Lake on its peak, you are likely to freeze hence don’t forget to carry a warm sweater, rain jacket, hat, gardening gloves, hiking boots, sleeping bag, high altitude and dizziness medicines such as Diamox, toiletries, insect repellant, backpack, flashlight, long-sleeved shirts and hiking pants, change of clothes and many other hiking equipment.
How to get to Mount Nyiragongo
Getting to Mount Nyiragongo requires starting the journey from the Town of Gisenyi, Rwanda and drive for 30-40 minutes crossing over to Goma in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. This active volcano is approximately 14 kilometers from the Town of Goma hence you will require a reliable transit to the base of Nyiragongo. Car Rental through Tour Operator or Cab will lead you to Virunga National Park, although some travellers opt for public means.
Since Mount Nyiragongo Hiking adventures begin by 10:00am, participants are required to arrive the starting point by 9:00am hence the best option is spending overnight at the Town of Goma.