Mount Nyiragongo Hike
Mount Nyiragongo hike is one of the most thrilling and amazing tourist activities in Virunga National Park. Mount Nyiragongo is one of the major tourist attractions in the Congo. This active volcano is located in the eastern part of Congo, and it is one of the 8 volcanoes in the Virunga Conservation Area. Mount Nyiragongo has an elevation of 3470 meters and is one of the world’s largest active volcanoes, with a very impressive lava lake that is considered the largest in the whole world. With this very intriguing and marvelling lava lake, tourists from the world over travel for miles and days just to have a glimpse of it with a Mount Nyiragongo hike.
Mount Nyiragongo hike was availed as a tour in 2014 by Virunga National Park authorities, making the park one of the best tourist destinations in Africa since tourists get to marvel not only at the world’s largest lava lake but also have a thrilling gorilla trekking adventure to encounter the endangered mountain gorillas. Adventurous travellers and those after a unique and once in a lifetime experience should consider visiting Virunga National Park to hike the world’s largest active volcano and encounter a few of the last endangered mountain gorillas that are unique to the Virunga Massif Area and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The Nyiragongo active volcano can be reached via a number of routes but the most recommended for safety’s sake is through Gisenyi town in Rwanda. Travellers get to fly into Kigali International Airport, transfer to Gisenyi and a further 20km ride to the border between Rwanda and the Congo and then to Goma town. A great black cloud can be visible from Goma town, beckoning travellers. From Goma, travellers are transferred to Kibati, the starting point of Mount Nyiragongo hike from where travellers get to be briefed about what to expect during the hike, the stopping points available and what is necessary to pack. It is at Kibati that travellers can hire porters who would help them during the hike. Hiking Mount Nyiragongo could be a very challenging activity for travellers that are ill-prepared given the steep slopes, rugged terrain and the altitude. The Mount Nyiragongo hike usually starts at 9 or 10am and takes about 5-6 hours to reach the summit.
The Nyiragongo volcano hike has five segments. The first segment/part of the hike has travellers hiking through trees at a relatively lower altitude. Though some travellers find this the easiest, the ill-prepared mentally and physically tend to quit at this point. The altitude during the hike increases after the first major stop thus more challenging. This is the second segment of the Nyiragongo hike where travellers have to deal with small loose lava rocks that are very wobbly to walk on. Having the right hiking boots pays off mostly at this point. The third segment during the Mount Nyiragongo hike has travellers not only dealing with small loose and wobbly rocks but also slippery stones and a much higher altitude that comes with its effects. At the fourth segment, the slopes of Mount Nyiragongo get steeper and steeper, a higher altitude as well as the cold. Sometimes, rains fall during the fourth segment hike. Travellers are therefore encouraged to carry warm clothes and rain jackets. The fifth and final part of the Mount Nyiragongo hike has travellers spotting cabins, thus motivating them on despite the segment being the steepest. Travellers once at this segment are allowed to complete the remainder of the hike at their comfortable stride, though many rash through this to have a sight of the marvelling lava lake.
The Mount Nyiragongo hike takes about 5-6 hours in total, so descending the same day is not advised. Travellers get to spend the night at the summit, in 12 summit cabins. Each cabin has 2 single beds with a mattress and a pillow. Dinner, breakfast and snacks can be had while in the cabins, and they are also relatively warm. The summit is however very cold, despite the churning lava lake before you. Travellers are encouraged to carry very warm clothing.
To descend Mount Nyiragongo, it takes travellers about 4 hours only. After a sumptuous breakfast and marvelling at the lava lake for the last time, travellers embark on descending the Nyiragongo volcano. The descent during the Mount Nyiragongo hike has travellers going through sharp rocks, steep sections as well as unsteady rocks that are hard to have a grip on. The views are however very rewarding. In about 4 hours, travellers are back to Kibati where the hike started.
To be able to take part in a Mount Nyiragongo hike, travellers need to purchase Nyiragongo hiking permits which cost only $300 per person per hike. These can be got from Virunga National Park or through a trusted tour operator. The Nyiragongo hiking permits are not refundable. To be able to enter into the Democratic Republic of Congo, travellers need to have a valid visa, valid passport and a valid yellow fever card. A single-entry tourist visa costs $100 per person and is valid for 14 days only.
The appropriate parking list for a successful Mount Nyiragongo hike should include suitable hiking shoes with a grip, rain jacket, warm clothing, sleeping bag, hat, sunscreen, camera, binoculars, a torch, among other items of personal nature. Snacks and water are a must-carry too.
Apart from the right hiking gear, travellers should be in somewhat good shape to be able to hike the Nyiragongo by doing some exercises like jogging or walking on a hilly place, as well as be mentally prepared for what the hike hast to offer and the challenges expected.
Mount Nyiragongo can be visited all year long though the dry season is most preferred by many travellers. The dry season doubles as the peak season, in the months of June to September and December to February. Start planning for a Mount Nyiragongo hike safari and be rewarded with sight of the marvelling lava lake and great views. Our 3 Days Nyiragongo hike and 2 Days Nyiragongo hike safaris could be great for your planning.