Climb Mount Nyiragongo Volcano

Climb Mount Nyiragongo Volcano

Climb Mount Nyiragongo Volcano – Nyiragongo stands tall as one of the world’s largest and most spectacular active volcanoes, boasting a caldera summit stretching 1.2 kilometers in diameter. Its steep-sided walls encase the largest active lava lake globally, creating a mesmerizing yet formidable sight. Rising to a height of 3,470 meters, this majestic volcano has witnessed numerous volcanic eruptions, resulting in molten lava flowing downhill towards the neighboring settlements of Goma at its foothills. Regrettably, Nyiragongo has earned a notorious reputation as one of the deadliest and most hazardous volcanoes on the planet.

Where Is Mt Nyiragongo Found?

Situated within the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nyiragongo Volcano lies approximately 20 km north of the town of Goma, bordering Congo and Rwanda. Today, it stands as one of the most active volcanoes globally, reaching a height of over 11,000 feet. Its caldera peak, housing the magma chamber, spans nearly a mile in width and harbors a deep lava lake within. Despite its geological significance, Nyiragongo has not undergone extensive scientific study due to political unrest in the surrounding region.

Geology Of Mount Nyiragongo

Nyiragongo Mountain emits dense fumes that shroud its peak, comprised of fluid lava containing various chemicals such as nephelinite and melilite, resulting in the formation of alkaline-rich rocks. This active volcano, nestled within the Nyiragongo volcanic field, is surrounded by other volcanic formations, including seven additional volcanoes like Mikeno and Karisimbi, as well as Lake Kivu.

Presently, the volcanic lake is encircled by a ring, with lava levels periodically rising beyond this boundary and cascading down to the caldera floor. Due to the steep slopes of Mount Nyiragongo, the fluid lava flows downhill at staggering speeds, often exceeding sixty meters per hour (60 mph). This rapid flow poses a significant challenge for both humans and wildlife in the vicinity, as escaping the lava during overflow events through the crater walls becomes exceedingly difficult. The volatile nature of Nyiragongo underscores the urgency for ongoing monitoring and research efforts to better understand its behavior and mitigate potential hazards posed by its eruptions.

Is It Safe To Visit Nyiragongo?

Despite experiencing numerous eruptions, including the recent one in 2022, Mount Nyiragongo remains one of the few places on Earth uninhabited by humans, boasting the largest fluid lava lake globally. Surprisingly, its lower slopes are densely populated with village settlements, defying the volcano’s volatile nature. Alongside these settlements, the lower slopes of Mount Nyiragongo are richly forested, providing habitats for a diverse array of wildlife. Among these inhabitants are chimpanzees, bushbucks, various species of monkeys, and an abundance of birdlife. Notably, the area is home to the unique three-horned chameleon, adding to its ecological significance. Despite the inherent risks posed by the volcano’s eruptions, both human settlements and wildlife thrive in close proximity to Mount Nyiragongo, underscoring the complex relationship between nature and human habitation in volcanic landscapes.

How Deep Is The Crater Lake At Nyiragongo?

The depth of Mount Nyiragongo’s crater remains elusive, fluctuating with the volume of magma discharged from below. However, estimates suggest it reaches approximately 600 meters deep. Within the crater lie several platforms, each formed by previous lava levels. The uppermost platform, situated around 20 meters from the crater’s rim, dates back to 1973. Below lies another platform, approximately 40 meters lower, formed in 1995 when the lava lake drained into the surrounding area after the 2002 eruption. Currently, the lava flow within the caldera is estimated to be positioned between 430 to 410 meters below the volcano’s rim. These geological features offer a glimpse into the dynamic nature of Mount Nyiragongo’s volcanic activity and its impact on the surrounding landscape.

When Did The Nyiragongo Volcano Become Active?

The precise onset of Mount Nyiragongo’s volcanic activity remains uncertain. However, signs of activity, such as intermittent bubbling, fiery eruptions, smoke clouds, and crater wall bursts leading to downhill lava flow, have been observed for many years. The first documented eruption was recorded in 1882. These sporadic events underscore the volcano’s long history of activity, with periodic manifestations of its volcanic power captivating observers and scientists alike. Despite the uncertainty surrounding its exact activation date, Mount Nyiragongo’s volcanic eruptions continue to shape the surrounding landscape and impact nearby communities.

The Volcanic Phenomenon of Mount Nyiragongo

Mount Nyiragongo stands as one of the most active and intriguing volcanoes globally, with a recorded history of more than 34 eruptions since 1882. The volcano’s recent eruption in 2002 claimed 147 lives, highlighting the ongoing volcanic activity in the region. Despite the inherent dangers, the allure of witnessing such volcanic phenomena draws adventurers from around the world to explore this natural wonder.

Understanding the Rapid Lava Flow

One of the remarkable features of Mount Nyiragongo is the exceptionally fast flow of its lava. Unlike typical lava flows, the presence of volcanic rock rich in alkaline and melilite nephelinite contributes to the lava’s fluid consistency, allowing it to move at astonishing speeds. The eruption in 1977 saw the lava racing downhill at approximately 60 mph, posing significant challenges for nearby communities and wildlife.

Accessing Mount Nyiragongo:

The journey to Mount Nyiragongo begins in Gisenyi town, Rwanda, a gateway to the nearby Goma town in Congo, situated approximately 30 minutes away by car. From Goma, it’s a short nine-mile drive to the volcano, where all hiking adventures commence. Travelers have the option of hiring a taxi from Virunga National Park or using their private vehicle to reach the base of the volcano.

Hiking Mount Nyiragongo:

Ascending Mount Nyiragongo is a challenging yet rewarding endeavor, typically undertaken over three days. The climb begins in the early morning, with hikers urged to arrive at the starting point by 9 a.m. to ensure ample time for preparation. Kenlink Tours advises spending the previous night in Goma town to acclimate to the altitude and ready oneself for the ascent.

Preparing for the Hike

Before embarking on the hike, several essential items are recommended, including warm clothing to combat fluctuating temperatures, a change of clothes for wet weather conditions, and a sleeping bag for overnight stays. Good hiking boots offering ankle support are essential for navigating the rocky terrain, while a prescription for altitude sickness medication such as Diamox is advisable.

Accommodations and Facilities:

During the hike, accommodations consist of basic huts located on the summit, constructed to shield hikers from the elements. However, for those seeking more comfortable lodgings, several options are available at the foothills of the mountain, including Kivu Serena Hotel, Hotel Paradis Malahide, and Tiloreza Volcanoes Ecolodge.

The Three-Day Itinerary

The typical three-day itinerary for hiking Mount Nyiragongo begins with a journey from Gisenyi to Goma on day one, followed by the ascent of the volcano on day two. On the final day, hikers descend from the summit and depart for their onward travels. Throughout the climb, experienced park guides lead the way, ensuring the safety and well-being of all participants.

Cost Considerations

The cost of hiking Mount Nyiragongo varies depending on whether travelers organize their tour through a travel agency or book directly through the national park. While booking through a tour company may incur slightly higher fees, travelers have the option to hire porters to assist with carrying gear and personal items, typically costing around $24 per porter.

Best Time to Visit

The optimal time to hike Mount Nyiragongo is during the dry season, spanning from December to mid-March and mid-June to September. During these periods, temperatures are milder, and there is less mist obscuring the summit, providing clearer views of the lava crater

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