Tips for Hiking Mount Nyiragongo
Tips for hiking Mount Nyiragongo: Mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and is part of the 8 volcanoes that straddle the Virunga Conservation Area. Mount Nyiragongo is inside Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest park established in 1925 and declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979 for its biodiversity and contribution to the ecosystem as well as inhabiting the mountain gorillas. Mount Nyiragongo and Mount Nyamuragira are the active volcanoes of the 8 mountains that are in the Virunga Conservation Area.
Hiking Mount Nyiragongo is one of the most appealing and outstanding experience that happen once in a traveller’s lifetime. The Nyiragongo has the world’s largest lava lake churning at its summit. Standing awestruck next to the churning lava lake on a crater just a few feet away is a magical experience that has left only beautiful memories for those travellers that have braved the hike to the Nyiragongo. The hike to Nyiragongo is mostly characterised with sweating, altitude sickness, panting, steep slopes, and crumbly stones and so much more, all these make the hike the more challenging but above all worth it once at the crater that contains the largest bubbling lava lake in the world. A night sight of the lava lake has the sky glowing red from the churning lava, making the experience the more amazing.
The Nyiragongo hike to the summit is approximately 8.5km with altitudes changing as travellers go higher and higher. The cold and the rains are also inevitable, carrying warm clothing and rain jackets is very important. Below are tips for hiking Mount Nyiragongo for any traveller intending to take part in this once in a lifetime experience;
One of the tips for hiking Mount Nyiragongo is preparing early. Hiking Mount Nyiragongo just like any other mountain in the world is no walk in the park. This adventurous activity of hiking Mount Nyiragongo necessitates any travellers intending to take part to plan and prepare early enough for the hike. This could be in terms of physical exercise or training to ensure physical fitness, say jogging, walking in hilly areas and the like. Preparing mentally is also important, the earlier you know of the kind of hike you are going for the better. You may research about Mount Nyiragongo and also read of past travellers’ experiences to paint a picture for you. Timely booking more so through a tour operator allows travellers with time to prepare for the hike, including booking the right accommodation for you.
Hiking Mount Nyiragongo has travellers going through some steep slopes that get steeper and steeper by the higher you go, stepping hot volcanic rocks some of which are loose and slippery. The altitude of the volcano, and rains that sometimes fall require one to have a well thought out packing list for a memorable experience. Travellers are required to include the following items on their packing list for a Nyiragongo hike;
- Hiking boots with a strong grip and are comfortable should be carried. Having them waterproof could come in handy as well. These hiking shoes are meant to protect travellers from sharp stones, hot surfaces and the grip on the shoes helps keep one steady when they step on loose rocks during the hike.
- Hand gloves are a must carry too. These help travellers have a firm grip on the hiking stick as well as protect one’s hands from bruising when they touch the many rocks vegetation during the hike.
- Waterproof rain gear that includes rain jackets, sweaters and warm jackets, are all important to be carried to keep one dry and warm when it rains or when the cold is unbearable. The cold in the night is quite unthinkable. Extra warm clothing is required least you freeze.
- Hiking gaiters and bicycle arm warmers can also be carried.
- Sunscreen, hat, insect repellent creams are also important and should be carried
- Walking sticks, which are provided during the briefing, should be carried. You may start with swinging them around at the start of the hike but as time goes, you will notice that are a life saver. These keep you balanced on uneven rocks.
- Energy giving snacks and water to refresh yourself at the various stops is necessary to replace the lost water and energy during the hike
Many travellers who have hiked the volcano can testify that one of the most important tips for hiking Mount Nyiragongo is to have porters to help you during the hike. These porters help travellers with their luggage all the way to the summit as well as help you during the hike with a push or pull when needed. Hiring porters costs about $24 for the whole hike.
Hiking permits and advance booking
Booking in advance hiking permits is very important for travellers to be able to hike the Nyiragongo on their preferred dates. Hiking permits are required for one to be allowed to hike the Nyiragongo in Virunga National Park. A hiking permit costs $300 only, per person per trek, and can be booked through a trusted tour operator.
Mount Nyiragongo hiking expeditions usually start at 9am with a briefing at the Kibati patrol, the starting point of the hike. At the brief, travellers are told of what to expect and the safety precautions that they ought to pay attention to. At 10am, the hike to the Nyiragongo starts guided by armed ranger guides. Travellers who arrive late at the starting point, past 10am, are not allowed to trek alone to catch up with the rest. Keeping time is therefore very important. The hike is done at the speed of the slowest traveller. There are several resting points where travellers can have a snack or water to refresh or simply rest. It takes about 6 hours for travellers to hike up to the summit of the Nyiragongo volcano.
Age and health status to hike the Nyiragongo
Travellers below the age of 12 years are not allowed to hike the Nyiragongo, irrespective of their physical ability and enthusiasm. Valid passports are required to crosscheck this, thus recommended to be carried. All persons above 12 can hike Mount Nyiragongo, and those in good health irrespective of their age can as well hike the Nyiragongo.
Hiking the Nyiragongo necessitates travellers spending a night at the summit. There are 12 summit shelters that give comfortable enough accommodation services to the hikers. Each shelter has 2 single beds. Booking in advance and through a tour operator or directly with Virunga National Park is necessary in order to secure yours. Porters get to carry their own camping tents which they pitch once at the summit.
Safety while at the summit
Unlike lodges at the foothills and the park where travellers have private rooms and safe boxes to safeguard their important property, at the summit travellers need to be very cautious because they are in the company of different travellers and porters who all have different characters and vices. Travellers are advised to be extra precautious with their property at all time, even in the night. Travellers are supposed to be careful while at the summit as they watch the lava lake least they slip due to the slippery rocks.
With these tips for hiking Mount Nyiragongo, travellers can plan on visiting and hiking the Nyiragongo to see the world’s largest lava lake. Get in touch with a trusted tour operator to help you out.