Mount Nyiragongo is found within the virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and its a few meters north of goma town and Lake Kivu. It is one of the most active volcano in Africa and one of the eight volcanoes within the Virunga Mountains. The main Crater Lake is about two kilometers wide and usually contains Lava Lake which appears in the summit crater.
The Nyiragongo Mountain has a lava lake which has been the most voluminous in the recent history. The depth of the lava lake depends on the activity of the volcano. From 1882 the mountain has erupted over 34 times in a form of an agitated lava within the crater. The volcano extends with two older volcanoes such as Baratu and Shaheru as well as surrounded by a number of small volcanic cinder cones from top eruptions.
Volcanism at Nyiragongo is brought about by the rifting of the earth’s crust when two plates are tearing apart. The lava spitted in the eruptions are unusual fluids and the lava is made up of the melilite nephelinite which is an alkali-rich type of a volcanic rock. The Nyiragongo lava flows downhill at 60 miles per hour because of the low silica content.
The 1977 eruption, the crater which contained an active lava lake got fractured on 10th January and the lava poured on the upper slopes. This killed over 70 people within the surrounding areas and the eruption was preceded by the creation of small volcano known as Murara that is meters away from the slopes of mount Nyamuragira. Another eruption occurred on 17th of January 2002 where a crack opened within the south side of the volcano spreading a few hours. The fissure released 3 streams of lava which flowed through goma city and over 400,000 people were evacuated from the city. Goma airport was destroyed by the lava and reached next to Lake Kivu as well as 120,000 people were left homeless. After 6 months the Nyamuragira volcano erupted as well but activities at Nyiragongo are ongoing but confined to the crater where another lava lake was formed.
HIKING IN MOUNT NYIRAGONGO
Trekking mount Nyiragongo is divided into 5 sections with a 15 minute break at every stopover. The average climbing time is 4 to 6 hours and descending off the volcano is 4 hours. The first section of the trek introduces you to the dense forest at the base of Nyiragongo. It’s in this area where hikers are told to lookout for wildlife as well as monkeys and bushbucks.
The forest ascends up to the second section whose trails gives beautiful views of the valley below. The third section takes you to cross the old lava flows and the past steaming volcanic cracks. After reaching the montane forest as you traverse the fourth section and the fifth then after continue to the summit.
Once at the top, you will relax since the mount has a lot and amazing offers that are breathtaking. You will spot the largest lava lake churning away in a mosaic of molten red fire. Therefore when the sun goes down, Mount Nyiragongo begins its night glow against a back drop of the stars. This makes the whole Cong Hiking safari amazing and memorable.