The Virunga mountains are shared between Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Mgahinga national park in Uganda and Virunga national park in Democratic republic of Congo. They form a chain of eight volcanoes of which two are active and the slopes are home to the endangered mountain gorillas.
Mount Nyirangongo is located in the Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo standing on an elevation of 3470 meters above sea level, the mountains lava is known to be the most voluminous lava in the recent history because the lava often emitted is usually fluid and flows at 100 kilometres per hour other than 1-10 kilometres per hour rarely posing a danger to human life.
The main crater has two distinct cooled lava benches of 3175m and 2975m within its crater walls and about 2 kilometres wide, mount Nyirangongo overlaps two other older volcanoes and its surrounded by hundreds of small volcanic cinder cones from flank eruptions.
The unusual fluidity of its lava might be a result of melilite nepheline an alkali rich type of volcanic rock whose unusual chemical composition might be the cause of its fluidly lava. Mount Nyirangongo is said to have erupted at least 35 times since 1882 and its not known how long the volcano has been active.
In January 1977 the crater hall holding the lava lake raptured and within 30 minutes the entire lava lake had drained sending millions of cubic lava to the areas around Mount Nyirangongo burning almost 300 people alive and some live witnesses say the lava had reached the outskirts of Goma city within 20 minutes.
The second eruption took place in 2002 after several processes of fumaloric and seismic activities, a fissure was released on the southern flank about 13 kilometres spreading 2800-1550m of elevation reaching Goma town, Goma airport and some flowed to Lake Kivu. About 147 people were killed and 120000 people’s homes were destroyed. Many buildings in the city continued falling for a period of 3 months due to massive earthquakes that followed.
Hiking Mount Nyirangongo
Its most tourists dream to stand at the edge of the red bubbling lava lake giving you one of the most stunning views in your life time. Hiking to the top of mount Nyirangongo will need one to be physically fit due to its stannous altitude. You can hire a porter from Kibati ranger post to help you with language.
The hike to mount Nyirangongo normally takes 5-6 hours but those who would love to spend a night can sleep in one of the 12 summit cabins, each cabin contains 2 single beds where you can put your sleeping bag. The cooks will prepare for your dinner, coffee and other refreshments as you enjoy magic views during the night.
Tourists planning to hike mount Nyirangongo must come along with raincoats, jackets, solid hiking boots, warm clothing, garden gloves, drinking water, energy snacks, sun screen, hat, sun glasses and so much more. Descending takes only 3 hours.
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