Trekking to Mount Nyiragongo Volcano in Congo
The active volcano of Mount Nyiragongo is one of the main tourist attractions in Congo. Mount Nyiragongo is located in the eastern part of the country overlooking the Virunga National Park and is one of the 8 volcanoes in the Virunga Reserve. Other volcanoes include Mount Karisimbi, Mount Bisoke, Mount Muhavura, Mount Sabinyo, Mount Mykonos, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Nyamuragira. Nyiragongo Volcano is located at 3470 meters above sea level, with about 5 to 6 hours of moderate hiking from the summit of the volcano.
As one of the largest active volcanoes in the world, Nyiragongo Lava Lake is fascinating and impressive. Virunga National Park authorities opened Mount Nyiragongo to trekking tourism in 2014. Tourists usually combine mountain gorilla trekking with volcano trekking in Nyiragongo. Those looking for a unique, once-in-a-lifetime mountain hiking experience will find the answer at Mount Nyiragongo Trekking. This is the only place in Africa that allows visitors to see a lava lake up close. You may also be interested in information about Kilimanjaro or how to climb Kilimanjaro.
How to get to Mount Nyiragongo?
Mount Nyiragongo can be reached from several regions, but for safety reasons, it is safer to go through the town of Gisenyi in Rwanda. From Gisenyi, visitors will be taken 20 kilometers to the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo before proceeding to Goma. A huge black cloud is visible from the city of Goma, a reminder that the volcano last erupted in 2002. Lava that once flowed at high temperatures has now cooled and left behind a black rock. After Goma, you will be taken to the main road to Kibati village. Before starting your Mount Nyiragongo Volcano trek, you’ll want to know what to expect. Briefings cover all important aspects of trekking in Mount Nyiragongo, including what to expect, stops, and what to pack. Except for the last part of the hike, hikers must move as a group for most of the activity.
Climb Mount Nyiragongo
Climbing Mount Nyiragongo can be very difficult for those less prepared and out of shape. Be prepared for steep slopes and rough terrain. There are porters at the beginning of the Kibati Ranger outpost that can be hired for a fee to carry heavy loads. Join the chef and other trekkers after the briefing at 9:00 in the morning.
There are five sections when climbing Mount Nyiragongo. The first part of the hike consists of climbing at lower altitudes. Those who are not mentally or physically prepared usually quit at this point. After the first big stop, the climb brought more challenges. In the second part of the hike, you have to deal with some loose lava. Those wearing proper hiking boots should be able to get through this section easily.
After completing the second part, the hiker now has to deal not only with loose small stones but also with taluk and difficult conditions at high altitudes. As you reach the fourth stage, the slopes become steeper and cooler due to the high altitude. In this section of the road, it is not only cold but also often rainy – warm clothes and raincoats are necessary. The last stage is the steepest, but also the shortest. The cabin is visible from this point and is more than enough motivation for even the most jaded hiker. Hikers who manage to reach this stage can complete the rest of the trek at their own pace. You may find our 2-day Mount Nyiragongo trekking package interesting.
Overnight at the top of Mount Nyiragongo Volcano Lodge
There are 12 mountain huts on top of the volcano, each with 2 single beds where hikers can place sleeping bags. The cabins have mattresses and pillows. At the accommodation, hikers receive snacks, breakfast, dinner, water, and sleeping bags. The summit can be cool with strong winds. You should be prepared with warm clothes. Cooks and porters help make hot tea and coffee to help hikers escape the cold. The overnight stay at the summit is included in the permit fee. The smell of boiling and bubbling lava can be felt from the hut.
After admiring the boiling lava lake and magma, it’s time to descend. The descent is much faster and takes about three hours to reach the starting point. However, it is not as simple as it seems. Climbing down sharp rocks and steep sections can be very difficult and care must be taken to avoid injury from sharp rocks. The good thing about the descent is that you have uninterrupted views of the vast Virunga National Park and distant volcanoes, including the Rwenzori Mountains and Lake Kivu in Uganda.
Costs and requirements to obtain a Congolese visa
Nyiragongo trekking permits can be obtained directly from Virunga National Park or a travel agency for a fee of $300. Mount Nyiragongo trekking permits are non-refundable once purchased. You must have a migration permit before applying for a Congolese visa. The cost of a single Congo tourist visa is $105 per person. a person. This single-entry visa is valid for 14 days from the date of entry. As part of your visa, you will need to bring additional documents to cross the Congolese border from Rwanda. A valid passport and yellow fever vaccination card are required. A good tour company should help you get your visa, as well as arrange transport, accommodation, and porters. We have a fun 3-day Nyiragongo mountaineering package that you will find interesting.
Packing List for Trekking Mount Nyiragongo
This piece of clothing should be lightweight so as not to get in the way when climbing mountains. A raincoat helps to withstand heavy rain. Suitable hiking boots: Shoes should have good traction (rubber soles), be waterproof, comfortable, and feet warm.
Warm clothes and sleeping bags:
It gets colder in the mountains and you need to prepare as best you can. Wear warm clothes to protect yourself from the cold on top of the mountain. A sweater, rain pants, jacket, long underwear, thermal socks, and a hat are required.
Packed lunch and water:
Climbing Mount Nyiragongo can be very tiring and leave you thirsty or even hungry. You should bring a lunch and enough drinking water
Hiring porters at the base of the volcano costs around $15 per day. These porters are used to climbing the volcano several times a week and carrying heavy luggage without difficulty. They will also help you climb the most difficult parts of the mountain. Hat and sunscreen: These are useful in heavy rain or hot/dry season.
Are Cameras and Binoculars Needed When Hiking Mount Nyiragongo?
You can’t have such an amazing experience without a good camera or pictures to show your time at the volcano. Seeing an active volcano is an experience that only a few people get to experience in their lifetime. You need good pictures for your posts and to show your friends and family. Binoculars can give you a great view, especially when driving downhill.
This is where you keep all your gadgets – phone, iPad, camera, binoculars, and more. Make sure it is rainproof.
This will ensure your iPad, laptop, cell phone has power in the mountaintop cabin. Torch: There is no electricity at the top of the mountain. Electricity is obtained from solar energy, but not everywhere. You will need a flashlight to navigate the kitchen or bathroom.
Best time to hike Mount Nyiragongo:
Mount Nyiragongo can be hiked all year round, but tourists prefer the dry season. The dry season is from June to September and December, January, and February. The rainy season makes the trails more slippery and difficult for hikers.
Climbing Mount Nyiragongo is a challenge and one needs to be fit. The climb gets steeper and the descent comes with its challenges – sore knees and ankles from the stress. As you climb the mountain, the weather becomes more difficult. You should take this into account, especially if you are sensitive to extreme weather changes.
This is key because it’s not just about health. Despite all the challenges you may face, you must be determined to complete the trek. Prepare your mind and body a few weeks before the hike and go for a short hike on the rocks or hills around your house.
Use hiking poles:
Hiking poles can help you climb up and down steep Mount Nyiragongo, help you maintain your balance, and relieve more stress on your knees. Hiking poles are provided at the starting point.
Keep your valuables safe:
Keep your valuables (such as cameras, money, and laptops) with you at all times, even in a trekking lodge. A yellow fever vaccination card is important: you must show your passport and yellow fever card to travel to the Congo. You may not be able to enter the Congo without this card.
Note: Mount Nyiragongo Volcano Trekking can be combined with Congo Gorilla Trekking for a more complete and memorable experience. If you are interested in combining the two activities, you may want to check out our 4-day Gorilla Trekking and Mount Nyiragongo Trekking package.