For many of us, the closest we have come to a volcano is when we had to make one for a school science project. From the minor frustration of making the paper mache model, to the less than exciting eruption made by mixing humble baking soda and vinegar. Fortunately, through greater understanding of volcanoes, we are now able to get a little closer to these forces of nature – no more spilt vinegar and baking soda. Now you are able to explore the slopes and caldera of Mount Nyiragongo.
Mount Nyiragongo (also spelt as Niragongo) is an active volcano located in Virunga National Park; in the Democratic Republic of Congo, just west of the border with Rwanda. At an altitude of 3,470 m, with a caldera (large depression or hollow formed by the emptying of magma) diameter of 1.2 km, it contains one of the most active lava lakes in the world. In 1977 the crater walls fractured and the lava lake drained, leaving behind the 250 m deep crater lake we know today.
‘Why would I want to visit an active volcano?’
If the words ‘active volcano’ don’t make it onto your list of travel activities, then we fully understand. Ash, molten rock and the smell of sulphur are for disaster movies and not for an African holiday. We would like to state our case though and tell you why it would be a great experience. Ascending Mount Nyiragongo is now easier and safer to do than ever before. There’s no denying that active volcanoes are forces of nature. For all their menacing and destructive power comes a beautiful irony. They are also givers of life to our Earth. The evergreen forests and plains that surround Mount Nyiragongo owe a lot of their existence to the violent eruptions that have occurred over our Earth’s lifetime.
Final Thoughts on Your Nyiragongo Hike
- ‘But it’s in the DRC, isn’t that dangerous?’ – We wouldn’t present a trip to our guests if we knew we’re putting them at risk. Yes, the DRC does have its troubles, but rather listen to the people on the ground. Anything happening to you is much too great a risk for the rangers to bear. This park is their home and part of their livelihoods. If the park succeeds then the rangers succeed.
- ‘I don’t think I’m fit enough’ – The hike is demanding, so we won’t sugar-coat that, but it’s planned in a way that allows for visitors of varying fitness levels to complete it comfortably. Your biggest challenge will be the weather.
- ‘If we’re close to the equator won’t it be really warm?’ – How close you are to the equator means nothing when you get to the top. It gets freezing at the top. Don’t compromise on your health or sanity by not taking enough warm clothes.
- ‘Is it all it’s cracked up to be?’ – Well, you could ask that about any tour. Experience is the best teacher, and from our experience we know it will be an amazing one.
Recently reopened to the public in 2014, Mount Nyiragongo is seeing an increase in interest and visitors. At Wild Frontiers we want to give you unique experiences, but we also want to give you value for money. That’s why we have combined the sights and sounds of Uganda with Mount Nyiragongo. Ten days, two countries and one unbelievable experience. Contact us today (email@example.com) to be part of this incredible experience.