Mount Nyiragongo hike
Mount Nyiragongo hike: Mount Nyiragongo hike is the most thought after thing to do in Virunga national park in Congo just after gorilla trekking which the major activity is done in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Mount Nyiragongo is elevated at 3,470m above the sea level and is situated with in Virunga massif a home to 8 volcanoes including Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Mgahinga, Mount Karisimbi, Mount Muhabura, Mount Bisoke, mount Nyamulagira, and Mount Mikeno that all together make the virunga massif very stunning to visit at least once in a life time. However, amongst all the 8 volcanoes, Mount Nyiragongo is still the most visited due to existence of an active lava lake at the summit that glows brighter during the night and thus the best way to explore this is by taking a 2 days and 1 night Nyiragongo hiking safari and all your dream will come true as you spend an overnight at the summit. There are several tour operators that organize the hike to summit Nyiragongo alongside Virunga national park management but with “Focus East Africa Tour, Achieve Global safaris and Explore Rwanda Tours”, one is rest assured of good services in preparations to Nyiragongo hiking safari. Nyiragongo hike is conducted in Virunga national park which is a few minutes’ drive from Goma city where the border point for tourists interested in Nyiragongo hike is situated known as Goma border that acts as the entrance and checkpoint for all hikers before they are picked up by a convoy to Kibati ranger post a starting point for Nyiragongo hikers. Nyiragongo hike starts at 10:30 am on a daily basis all year round with a briefing, then hikers get an opportunity to hire porters, sleeping equipment and the cooks before setting off on this adventurous activity. Late comers who end up missing the hike aren’t refunded thus it is crucial to manage the time very well and be at the starting point with others in time. Ascending Mount Nyiragongo is estimated to last about 5- 6 hours filled with a lot of attractions along the way including the beautiful vegetation cover and wildlife such as primates, mammals, birds and butterflies that make the entire hike more attractive in that one forgets about the straining experience and focusses on the beautiful and thrilling attractions encountered along the way.
While at the summit, hikers are rewarded while a clear view of the surrounding Volcanoes and Virunga national park without forgetting a stunning view of Lake Kivu the most beautiful lake in Rwanda. Spend an overnight awaiting to watch a glowing crater lake incase rain drops in as this offers clear photographs to keep your memories alive even after the safari. After spending a night at the summit, be aware that descending starts as early as 6:30 am in order to be at the starting point by 10:00am where a convoy is always waiting to drive you back to Grande barrier amidst tight security.
Requirements and packing list for mount Nyiragongo hiking safari
There are a good number of things that one needs for a successful Nyiragongo hiking experience and these include;
Mount Nyiragongo hiking permit: this is the gate pass to ascend Nyiragongo thus no permit no hiking. Mount Nyiragongo hiking permit costs $300 nonrefundable and it covers the entrance fees, security, convoy, one night at the summit and ground transportation (pick up and drop off at Grande barrier). This permit can be booked directly with Virunga national park management or by using a trusted tour operator to handle everything and you just pick your permit together with the Congo visa upon arrival. Nyiragongo hiking permit excludes porter fees and meals unless one book a Mikeno package that is fully equipped with everything including meals, rain jacket, sleeping bag, enough drinking water, a porter, a cook, and a warm sweater at $100 per package per person.
Appropriate hiking shoes: a comfortable pair of fitting shoes is essential and it should be light in weight and waterproof to enable you with stand long hours of ascending to the top of Nyiragongo.
A porter: the weight of your luggage determines how many porters you require for your Nyiragongo hike. Apart from helping in carrying the luggage, porters also offer a helping hand in difficult terrains by pushing or pulling the hiker.
Sleeping bag: in case you dint book a Nyiragongo backpack, then you will require to carry an appropriate sleeping bag considering the temperatures at the summit tend to be very low thus too much coldness. In case you book a Mikeno package then no need to worry about sleeping equipment as they are inclusive in the package at $100.
Warm attire: you need warm attire which include stockings, gloves, long-sleeved attire, a rain jacket and a warm sweater to keep you warm throughout the night.
Sunscreen: this too should be added in the Backpack as it assists the hiker especially during hiking to prevent your skin from being damaged by Ultra-violet rays of the sun.
A cap and sun glasses: to protect the face and eyes from direct sun during the hike.
A torch: since there is no power at the summit, it’s important to pack a torch in your luggage that will help you in case you need any light apart from the light seen from the Crater Lake.
A camera: who doesn’t want to capture such thrilling moment overnight? Obviously no one there for a camera should never miss out in your packing list while planning a safari to hike mount Nyiragongo. For birders, ensure that a pair of binoculars is amongst the things packed for Nyiragongo safari as there are several species of birds that will catch your ryes during Nyiragongo hiking adventure.
Packed lunch and enough drinking water: climbing from the base of Nyiragongo to the summit isn’t a joke thus it will make you hungry and thirsty at the same time and yet there are no shop along the hike or even at the summit. Ensure that you pack along some snacks to munch on during the hike to obtain some energy to push on till the end. Enough drinking water to keep you hydrated all day long is an essential that must be packed along with you otherwise, you will be dehydrated.
A cook: Since there are no hotels at the summit, hikers need to hire cooks that will take care of them as long as they are at the summit. Those who book a Nyiragongo backpack are lucky that the package doesn’t come with the sleeping equipment only but also comes along with the cooks.
A hiking stick: this hiking stick to keep you well balanced during the hike is provide freely since its fee is already added onto the Nyiragongo hiking permit.
Important to note:
While preparing to for Nyiragongo hiking safari, here are a few things you ought to know.
- In order to cross over into Congo, one must obtain a visa and it goes for $105 per person.
- A proof of yellow fever vaccination is required before crossing over into Congo.
- Particular level of fitness is required to manage the 6 hours hike and an overnight in the cold.
- Ensure that all your valuable items are properly protected at all the time while at the summit since you are with different people from different backgrounds.
- It’s very easy to combine Nyiragongo hike with gorilla trekking both in Virunga national park.
Getting to Mount Nyiragongo for hiking safari
There are two main border points used by Tourists to access Mount Nyiragongo and these include Goma border for hikers from Rwandan side and Bunagana border for hikers from the Ugandan side. Though the most commonly used border is Rwanda Congo border in Goma. From Rwanda, The best way to get to Mount Nyiragongo for hiking safari is by landing into Kigali Rwanda at Kigali international airport and then take a road drive via Gisenyi town to Rwanda Congo border and then cross over to Goma. Once in Goma city, you will already be viewing the active volcanoes mountain whose last eruption in 2002 spoilt a lot of things and most human and wild lives were lost. Well, while in Goma, check in and present all your documents, obtain Mount Nyiragongo hiking permit and be transferred to the starting point of Nyiragongo hike that is at Kibati ranger post which is the trail head for all hikers to Nyiragongo. It’s at Kibati that all hikers converge and are engaged in a productive briefing about the dos and don’ts during hiking, expectations during hiking and even given an opportunity to hire all the requirements including sleeping bags, porters etc.