Mount Nyiragongo is an active stratovolcano in the Virunga mountain ranges. Mount Nyiragongo is located inside Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, only 20 kilometres north of Goma and Lake Kivu, west of the Rwandan border. Mount Nyiragongo has an elevation that stretches to 3,470 meters, with a main crater about 2 kil0metres wide containing a lava lake. The depth of Mount Nyiragongo’s lava lake varies and it at one time had the most volume in the world, with a depth of 600 meters.
Nyiragongo has a hundreds of small volcanic cinder cones from flank eruptions surrounding it. During an eruption, the lava of Mount Nyiragongo flows rather quickly at a 100km/h speed. This rapid lava flow causes a danger to human life as it quickly gets to them even before they can get to safety when the volcano erupts.
Nyiragongo has been erupting for centuries now though not much is known of it before 1882. Since 1882, however, Mount Nyiragongo has erupted up to 34 times to date. There were times when even after an eruption, the activity was continuous for years at a time, with a churning lava lake in the crater. The current lava lake on Mount Nyiragongo was suspected for a time until it was scientifically confirmed in 1948. The lava lake on Mount Nyiragongo at the time it was confirmed measured up to about 120,000 square meters but the size, depth and temperature has since been fluctuating.
The most recent volcanic eruption of Nyiragongo occurred on 17th January 2002 after several months of seismic and fumarolic activity. A 13km fissure opened in the southern flank of Mount Nyiragongo spreading in a few hours from 2800m to 1550m elevation and reaching the outskirts of Goma city on the northern shore of Lake Kivu. The lava streamed from 3 spatter cones at the end of the fissure and flowed in a stream of about 200-1000 metres wide with a depth of about 2m deep.
Up to 400,000 people had been evacuated upon warnings raised, and they were taken to nearby Gisenyi in Rwanda. The lava flowed long enough that it covered the northern end of the runway of Goma International Airport, leaving only two-thirds of the southern part usable, but continued to flow till Lake Kivu. Fears were raised that the lava might cause gas saturated waters deep in the lake to suddenly rise to the surface releasing lethally large amounts of Carbon dioxide and methane, but it didn’t happen. Since then, though, volcanologists continue to monitor the area. In this eruption, about 245 people died from asphyxiation by carbon dioxide, buildings collapsed due to lava and earthquakes with about 4,500 buildings destroyed leaving 120,000 people homeless. Earthquakes continued even after the eruption through Goma and Gisenyi.
Six months after the January eruption of Nyiragongo, the volcano erupted again. Activity is still ongoing but confined to the crater, where another lava lake formed about 250 metres below the level of the 1994 lava lake.
Children have been killed due to localized carbon dioxide toxicity from Nyiragongo. On 18th March 2016, Goma Volcano Observatory discovered a new vent that opened in the north-eastern edge of the crater, and reports of rumblings from the volcano have been given. This could probably lead to a flank eruption, any time.
Scientists from the Goma Volcanic Observatory monitor Nyiragongo 24/7 year after year with seismic data produced every 4 minutes and temperature data produced every 10 minutes.
Mount Nyiragongo is undoubtedly of the most visited tourist attraction in Virunga National Park and the Congo at large. Mount Nyiragongo has been visited by over a million tourists who all come to gape at the boiling lava lake. There are Nyiragongo safaris organised for travellers who would wish to hike the volcano. 3 Days Nyiragongo hike is one of the most opted for Congo safaris tour that has travellers exploring and hiking Mount Nyiragongo. For one to take part in a Nyiragongo volcano hike, they need to purchase a hiking permit which can be purchased through a reputable tour operator. Get in touch with a tour operator of your choice for as long as they are knowledgeable say Explore Rwanda Tours, to help you put together a Mount Nyiragongo hiking safari and give you more information about this stratovolcano during your planning process, for example, the best time to visit Mount Nyiragongo, tips for hiking Mount Nyiragongo, facts about Nyiragongo, among so many others. Your Mount Nyiragongo volcano hiking safari will surely reward you with above all else, amazing views of the lava lake.