Mount Nyamuragira

Mount Nyamuragira also known as Mount Nyamulagira, is an open and active shield volcanic mountain located in the Virunga Mountains of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the eastern part of the country. Mount Nyamulagira is approximately 25km only north of Lake Kivu in the East African Rift Valley and northwest of the famous Mount Nyiragongo that hosts the world’s largest lava lake, at a distance of only 14km. 

Mount Nyamulagira is one of the 8 Virunga Mountains and it is only it as well as Mount Nyiragongo that are active volcanoes; the rest are dormant. The other volcanoes that make part of the Virunga Massif area are Mount Karisimbi, Mount Gahinga, Mount Sabinyo, Mount Muhabura and Mount Mikeno. Mount Nyamulagira got its name from the Kinyarwanda word “Kuragira inka” which simply means herd cows. 

mount Nyamuragira

Mount Nyamuragira is one of the most active volcanic mountains in Africa. Mount Nyamulagira has erupted up to 40 times since 1885. This volcano does not only erupt from the summit only but also from flanks of the volcano thereby creating new smaller volcanoes that have usually last for a short time, for example Murara which stayed from 1976-1977 only. The most recent volcanic eruptions of Mount Nyamulagira was on January 2nd 2010 as well as November 8th 2011. Much as the eruptions of Mount Nyamulagira do not have lava flows that are destructive to humans, the sulphur dioxide emitted has negative impacts of the surroundings especially the wildlife. Mount Nyamulagira has a volume of 500 cubic kilometres and covers a total area of 1,500 square kilometres. Mount Nyamulagira is 3058 metres high with a caldera that is 2 kilometres wide and 500 metres high. The Goma Volcano Observatory study reported in 2016 that the lake at the bottom of the inner pit of the caldera had disappeared though gasses are still emitted from where the lava lake once occupied.

Hiking Mount Nyamulagira may not be possible but travellers can enjoy hiking Mount Nyiragongo instead which still has its lava lake with magma spewing and gasses emitted that travellers get mesmerised by the sight of it. There are a number of activities that travellers can do while in the Virunga National Park that hosts Mount Nyamuragira and they include among others;

Hike Mount Nyiragongo 

Hiking Mount Nyiragongo is one of the most fascinating and thrilling activities that travellers that have a special liking and interest in Mount Nyamulagira can do. Hiking Mount Nyiragongo is very rewarding for travellers get to enjoy great views of adjacent volcanoes like Mount Nyamulagira and wildlife including birds and flowers. It is however the stunning and breath taking lava lake at the summit of Mount Nyiragongo that is the most rewarding sight that makes hiking the Nyiragongo volcano through very steep slopes and wobbly rocks all worthwhile. Hiking Mount Nyiragongo can take about 6 hours depending on the physical ability of the travellers. Whereas some travellers can hike the Nyiragongo volcano and descend it on the same day, most get to spend the night at the summit and enjoy the night-view of the lava lake and then descend it the next day.

Gorilla trekking

Mountain gorilla trekking is one of the most sought after activities in Virunga National Park. Gorilla trekking has travellers trekking the dense forest cover of the park in search of the endangered mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas can only be found in three countries in the world that is Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo. It is only in these countries that gorilla trekking can take place to see the endangered mountain gorillas in the wild in the four gorilla destinations that are Virunga National Park in the Congo, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda all three of which make part of the great Virunga Massif Area; and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park that hosts the largest population. Gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park is very adventurous given that the park is largely untapped and undeveloped. Gorilla trekking permits are required for one to be allowed to take part in Congo gorilla trekking, with a single entry permit costing $400 only, making it the cheapest in the region. Travellers are allowed only one hour with the gorillas and persons below the age of 15 cannot go gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park.

Chimpanzee habituation

Travellers can also opt to do a chimpanzee habituation, an activity that has travellers spending time with the chimpanzees in the presence of chimpanzee experts and doctors who visit the group on a daily to habituate them that they may be able to accommodate humans. 

Bird watching

Virunga National Park is an important birding area that has over 200 species of birds that roam the park. Travellers interested in birding are sure to spot a number of them like the Olive legion, blue headed coucal among others including the Albertine endemics. Travellers are reminded to carry binoculars and have a bird guide to take you through some really rewarding trails.

All these activities can be done throughout the year but it is during the dry season that also doubles as the peak season that travellers are encouraged to visit for the roads are more passable during this time. The dry season runs through the months of June-August and December-February. Some travellers however enjoy a little extra adventure and opt to travel in the rainy season. Travellers are reminded, however, that Virunga National Park is an area with rainforests and mountains and thus receive rainfall anytime of the year, even in the supposed dry season. It is on this ground that travellers are told that visiting can be done throughout the year.

Most a times when travellers are staying in various accommodations in Virunga National Park or nearby, they can view Mount Nyamulagira with its vent fuming gasses from a far, say from Tchegera Island camp, a luxury camp that most travellers wind their Virunga National Park safari with. Take time to book a Congo safari tour for an opportunity to see Mount Nyamulagira. Get in touch with a reputable tour operator to help you put together a memorable Congo safari tour.

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