Mount Nyiragongo Hiking Adventure

by | Feb 7, 2024 | 0 comments

Mount Nyiragongo Hiking Adventure

(2002) Mount Nyiragongo Volcano Hike, Virunga National Park, DRC Congo: One Of Most Dangerous Volcanoes – YouTube

His Job is Hiking Volcanoes (making $4/day) (

The most Picturesque active StratoVolcano dotted by dense forests at the base harboring unique wildlife as well as old lava flows and past steaming volcanic fissures. Well known as the world’s largest lava lake churning away in a mosaic of molten red fire with breathtaking spectacle of nightly glow against a backdrop of stars.

Mount Nyiragongo is an active stratovolcano located inside Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the best spot for hiking and climbing. Mount Nyiragongo rises 3,470 meters above the sea level, with a main crater covering about 2 Km wide, endowed with a lava lake.

Nyiragongo volcano has hundreds of small volcanic cinder cones from edge surrounding it due to eruption. It is recorded that during eruption of this volcano, the lava flows quickly at an average speed of 100km/h. This rapid flow of mount Nyiragongo lava is a threat to both human and wildlife because it quickly gets to them even before getting to a safer place.

Nyiragongo volcano has erupted 35 times since 1882 to date. There were times when even after an eruption, the activity continued, creating a churning lava lake in the crater. The current lava lake on Mount Nyiragongo was measured with a size of about 120,000 square meters however its temperatures and depth keep on fluctuating.

The most recent volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo happened in the evening of 22nd May 2021. It took 9 years to erupt after the last activity that happen on 17th January 2002. During that time, 13km fissure opened in the southern flank of Mount Nyiragongo spreading in a few hours from 2800m to 1550m elevation, reaching the peripheries of Goma city in 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 approximately 200 to1000 metres wide with a depth of about 2 metres.

Nyiragongo volcano is one of the 8 volcanoes within the Virunga conservation region. The other volcanoes include Mount Karisimbi, Mount Bisoke, Mount Muhabura, Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Mikeno, Mount Gahinga and mount Nyamuragira.
The Nyiragongo volcano rises at 3470 meters offering a medium hike to the top of the volcano approximately 5 – 6 hours.

Mount Nyiragongo Hiking Experiences

Early morning you will cross the Goma border and check in at the Virunga tourism office to have your trekking permits.

Mount Nyirangogo hiking starts at 9:00am with an assemble rangers at Kibati Tourism Ranger Post in the Virunga National Park for briefing about the regulations and share trekking experience and then at 10:00am the hike through the lush forest and old lava flows begins.

Climbing mount Nyiragongo is a bit challenging and requires physical body fitness as you need to be ready to face the steep and rugged terrain during your hike to the summit of the volcano.

Climbers encounter five segments when hiking mount Nyiragongo. The first hike involves climbing through a lower altitude. Most unfit hikers usually quit at this point. After the first major stop, it becomes more challenging with an increase in the altitude.

Hikers start to deal with small loose lava rocks however those with strong hiking shoes pass through this section with ease.
After finishing the second segment, hikers deal with not only the small loose lava rocks but also slippery stones and difficult conditions of higher altitude.

By the time you reach the fourth segment, Nyiragongo mountain slopes get steeper with greater cold due to higher altitude. Besides being cold, hikers often find rains under this section hence warm clothes and rain jackets are required.

The final section is the steepest but also shortest. The sleeping cabins can be seen from this point. This motivates the would-be tired hikers to climb to the summit. When you reach at this point, you may be allowed to complete the rest of the trail at your own pace.

After experiencing the picturesque views at the top of Nyiragongo, you will descend starting to slope down to the base of the volcano. Descending from the summit of mount Nyiragongo to the bottom takes approximately 4hours.

During this journey, you will have a sustained view of the great Virunga National Park and distant mountain ranges including the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda and Lake Kivu. Some travelers tend to extend their trip to Tchegera island for relaxation.


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Where to stay during a hike to Nyiragongo Volcano?

There are a total of 12 summit cabins where to stay during a hike at the top of the volcano, each comprising of 2 single beds to accommodate hikers. Sleeping bags, mattresses, and pillows are provided. Hikers are also provided with snacks, breakfast, dinner, and water.

The top of a volcano can be cold with strong winds; therefore, you need to put on warm clothing. The cooks and porters always prepare hot tea and coffee for hikers to relieve them from coldness.
The cost of accommodation at the Mount Nyiragongo summit is always included in the permit fee.

What to pack for Mount Nyiragongo Hike?

Travelers interested in hiking Mount Nyiragongo are advised to pack and carry the following items to make their trip successful.

A sleeping bag

This is highly advised especially as you sleep on the thin mattresses provided in the huts at the summit. For those without sleeping bags, the park improvises but strongly recommends carrying your own.

Warm Clothing

Just like any other mountain hiking safari in Africa, you need to pack some warm clothes to be used while at the summit of Nyiragongo volcano. The temperatures on this mountain vary from warm on the lower slopes to the very cold at the summit. Therefore, please do not be misguided by the fact that there is an active lava lake on the peak and you assume that the temperatures are warm up there. Failure to carry warm clothes will result in very cold nights throughout your stay at the summit. Remember that the higher you go, the cooler it becomes.

Change of clothes

The destination is located in the tropical region of Africa and receives ample rainfall throughout the year. Like any other part of the world, it can rain any day and any time, therefore, you need to carry extra changing clothes to cater for emergencies like getting wet from rain and mist in the forest. Those traveling during the wet season from March to May and again in November, are highly advised to pack a change of clothes.

Good hiking boots

Pack comfortable and strong hiking shoes to offer adequate ankle support considering that the terrain on the mountain is rocky, steep, and uneven
Enough Drinking water: Endeavor to pack enough drinking water before starting your trail to the top of the mountain to keep your body well hydrated.
Prescription for altitude sickness: Hikers should get a proper prescription for Diamox to deal with altitude sickness.

Other things to carry include; a yellow fever vaccination card, a torch, portable charger, backpack, camera and binoculars, hat, and sunscreen.


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Best Time to Visit Hike Mount Nyiragongo

Mount Nyiragongo can be hiked throughout the year however the best time for climbing is during the dry season that runs from December to Mid-March and from mid-June to September. During this period, the temperatures are bearable compared to wet season. More so, on top of the volcano, there is less mist during the dry season hence giving clearer views into the lava crater.
The average temperature at the summit ranges between 10°C to 30°C with the lowest being 8°C while the maximum is 31°C.

In Conclusion

Mount Nyiragongo offers an adrenaline pumping hike and most rewarding experience of the Spectacle natural wonders. Under the cover of darkness in the night, the hike gives magical views of the red-hot bubbling of the lava lake underneath the earth crust and the gushing red smoke paints the sky a galaxy of colors. Hiking Mount Nyiragongo is an outstanding, remarkable, extraordinary and a once-in-lifetime experience.


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About the Author

Tony Kizito

Tony is an enthusiastic and self-motivated tour Consultant with over 5 years in delivering professional tailor-made Trips across East Africa. I am keen to offer strong attention to detail, understand the travelers' needs and then craft unforgettable African safari experience.

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