Nyiragongo Volcano Hike
Nyiragongo Volcano Hike: Nyiragongo Volcano is one of the 8 Virunga Mountains located in the Eastern part of Congo, north of Goma town and Lake Kivu close to Rwanda in the west and it is within the Virunga conservation region, overlooking the Virunga national park. Nyiragongo hike is the lowest volcano as it rises at 3,470 meters high with a medium hike of approximately 5 to 6 hours to the top of the Volcano. Nyiragongo volcano is the most active and world’s largest volcano that has two distinct cooled lava benches with the crater walls whereby one is at about 3,175 meters higher than the other at 2,975 meters. Nyiragongo lava has been recorded as the largest lava with varying depth of lava hence Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira volcanoes have together contributed to about 40 percent of Africa’s historical volcanic eruption. Nyiragongo tours were made accessible for visitors in 2014 and since then, its lava lake is very fascinating and interesting to view for visitors up close the lava lake giving a unique and lifetime hiking experience and adventure as it can be combined with a gorilla trekking safaris experience in Virunga national park.
Hiking Nyiragongo hike
Hiking/Climbing Nyiragongo is quite a challenging experience that requires good body fitness given the steep slopes and the rugged terrain. At the beginning of the hike, there are porters available for hire at a fee of about $25. These porters are responsible for helping you carry your luggage and anything you need during the hiking period. All trekkers are required to report by 8 am Central African Time at Kibati ranger post which is the starting point of the hike, attend a briefing about the hiking experience, assemble as a team together with the cooks and other hikers. The actual hiking starts at about 9-10 am, taking about 5-6 hours to reach the summit.
There are five segments of climbing Mount Nyiragongo whereby the first part of the hike involves climbing lower altitude areas, if you are not physically and mentally fit enough, you may end up ending at this segment of the hike. You will be allowed to rest at some points to catch your breath. After this stop, the altitude gets even more challenging in the second segment of the hike whereby you have to climb on small loose lava rocks and this is when you’re comfortable hiking shoes have a purpose because with good hiking shoes, this level would not be a problem. The third segment involves higher altitude conditions and hiking through small loose rocks that have slippery stones. Reaching the forth segment, the slopes are steeper and very cold with highest altitude conditions with rain drops sometimes. This is the level where you will need to have your warm outfits such as warm clothes, rain jackets, a hat and gardening gloves. The final segment is the summit of the hike that is the steepest and it’s at this level where you will sight the summit shelter (Cabins) can be sighted giving a great motivation and excitement after reaching the summit. At this point you will be given enough time to rest and relax after the tiring hike. Ensure you protect and keep your valuables safe like cameras, money while at the summit.
After resting, prepare your cameras to view the boiling lava below. The boiling of Lava takes place inside the crater below the summit. The evening hours are the best time to view the boiling lava as it gives clear views of the boiling lava, you will have enough time to enjoy your experience before you return to the shelter for your dinner and if you wish, you could return to get more of the boiling lava experience. There are about 12 summit shelters available at the top of the Mount Nyiragongo comprising of single beds, mattresses and pillows where hikers basically require their sleeping bags to take them through the cold night and while at the cabins, you can easily smell the boiling and bubbling lava closely. The summit can be freezing cold with strong winds, so hikers need to be well prepared with warm clothing. Hikers are provided with warm meals including breakfast, and dinner. There are cooks provided who prepare the hot meals. This cost is usually included in the price of the hike offered by your tour operator.
After the amazing experience of the boiling lava lake and magma on the next day, have your cup of tea and start descending from the summit. Descending is quite easier and faster as compared to ascending to the summit as it takes about 4 hours to reach your initial starting point at Kabati ranger post. Descending the mountain involves walking on sharp rocks and some of the sections are steep making it quite difficult. Hikers need to take caution to avoid being hurt by the sharp rocks. The descending down the summit offers great views of Virunga national park and Lake Kivu closely while at a distance you may sight Volcanoes national park and also Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda.
How to access Mount Nyiragongo
Mount Nyiragongo can be reached at several entries from Uganda and Rwanda for visitors however, given the insecurities along the Uganda-Congo border at Bunagana border, its best recommended to enter the Democratic Republic of Congo via Rwanda. On arrival in Kigali international airport, it is a 3 hours’ drive to Gisenyi town which is the bordering town to Goma town in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda is separated by Lake Kivu which is shared by the two countries. From Gisenyi town to cross to Goma in Congo is about 20 kilometres. When you enter Congo via Goma, you are met by your Congo guide who will drive you to the tourism office at the border called the Grand barrier building where you will register before you are transferred to your accommodation. Hikers also have an option of flying from Kigali to Goma with only Ethiopian airlines landing in Goma airstrip and other private flights.
Requirements for Hiking Mount Nyiragongo
For all travellers’’ interested in hiking mount Nyiragongo, there are very important aspects that you must know before you travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
All travellers must obtain a hiking permit from the Virunga National Park before you hike. If you cannot get your permit directly, your tour operator can do that for you to avoid all the difficulties involved. You are recommended to first secure your hiking permit before getting the Congo Visa. The Hiking permit for Mount Nyiragongo is $326 inclusive hiking fees, transport and accommodation.
Hikers are required to obtain a Congo Visa to be able to enter Congo. A single Congo tourist Visa costs $105 per person and it valid for 14 days from the day of entry. Apart from the Visa, travellers are also required to present other documentations at the border including passport and a yellow fever vaccination card to be able to enter Congo. While booking your Mount Nyiragongo experience, your tour operator is able to help you acquire your Visa before your arrival at the border.
Travellers are required to be in good health condition and physically fit to be able to climb Mount Nyiragongo given its steep nature. The mountain is usually steeper when climbing and when descending, it is also another challenge of its own. Additionally the weather conditions are very cold and taking good hiking gears is a very essential. Your body has to be prepared for the challenges that come with hiking Mount Nyiragongo, remember to carry along a first Aid kit for any injuries especially the knees and ankle pains. Hiking sticks are always provided at the beginning of the hike for every hiker to support you during the hiking up and down of the volcanic mountain while on Nyiragongo Volcano Hike
Travellers also need to be mentally prepared to hike Nyiragongo. You need to prepare your mind and body weeks before your actual hike by practicing minor hikes on hills around your home area. You need determination to actually hike Mount Nyiragongo and determination begins with the mind.
Mount Nyiragongo can be hiked throughout the year but most especially during the dry season because of the changing weather conditions including the months of June, July, August, December, January, and February unlike the rainy seasons where the trails become more slipper and muddy making hiking more difficult.
Packing list for Mount Nyiragongo Hike
- Good comfortable hiking shoes/boots
- Warm clothes and a sleeping bag
- A rain jacket/coat
- Climbing stick
- Hike Porters
- A hat and sunscreen
- A camera and binoculars
- A back bag where to keep your valuables like your phone, snacks, portable recharger to mention a few
- Insect repellents
- A touch is also very important for lighting while at the summit.
In conclusion, you can book your Mount Nyiragongo hike with Achieve Global Safaris for a lifetime experience for about 3 days and you can combine your hiking experience with a gorilla trekking experience and have a complete life experience.