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Nyiragongo Lava Lake and Mountain Gorillas
8-days expedition to Nyiragongo volcano & mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park
"I had a wonderful trip - thoroughly enjoyed it!" (Jay Ramji)
Nyiragongo's lava lake
Nyiragongo's lava lake
Silver back and female mountain gorilla in Virunga National Park
Silver back and female mountain gorilla in Virunga National Park

Nyiragongo Lava Lake & Mountain Gorillas

8-days expedition to Nyiragongo volcano & mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park
Tour type
Volcano expedition: adventure - photography - wildlife
Difficulty
Moderate to Challenging
Group size: 4-10
Duration
8 days / 7 nights
no scheduled dates at present
Price per person
$ 3950 €£¥
An adventurous trip to The Virunga National Park, DR Congo with a special deal to spend 2 NIGHTS on the crater rim of Nyiragongo volcano (normally, only one is allowed!)! In addition, the lava lake has been particular active with frequent, dramatic overflows lately, so it's a great time to visit!
The heart of this adventurous expedition is two nights camping on the rim of the giant summit caldera of Nyiragongo volcano, above its violently active lava lake which is the word´s largest!
Second highlight is a trek through dense rainforest to observe a family of mountain gorillas, endangered primates which found a safe heaven in Virunga National Park.
The itinerary furthermore includes a visit of the volcano observatory and Goma city, where life goes on from the ashes of the destruction caused by Nyiragongo´s 2002 eruption, and beautiful and varied scenery during the drives through western Rwanda and to the start of the volcano hike and gorilla tracking.
An excellent local guide who gladly provides insight into the regions history and local culture, the company of a Goma observatory volcanologist during the time spent on Nyiragongo, friendly people, good accommodation and tasty food make this trip complete!
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  • The world´s largest and most active lava lake
  • 2 days/nights camping on the volcano summit
  • Trekking through rainforest and mountain moorlands
  • Summit stay around full moon for photography purposes
  • Virunga - Africa´s oldest national park
  • Chance to spend time up close with the mountain gorillas
  • Scenic drives across western Rwanda
  • Private 4WD transfers and camping cook
  • Insight into Rwandese and Congolese history and culture

8 days itinerary (2 nights on Nyiragongo)

Note:
If you are not interested in the unique opportunity to visiting the mountain gorillas, you can shorten the itinerary by 3 days and plan arriving in Goma on Day 4. A part of the tour cost can then be refunded to you.
Day 1: Arrival in Kigali (Rwanda)
Pick up from Kigali airport and transfer to a good hotel. Depending on your arrival time you can visit the city center. In the evening the group meets for a welcome dinner at the hotel.
Day 2: From Kigali (Rwanda) to Goma (DR Congo)
Transfer in private 4WD minibus through the beautiful landscape of western Rwanda to the Congolese border. In the afternoon we cross into the DR Congo and arrive at our accommodation in Goma which is at the shore of Lake Kivu.
Day 3: Transfer to Kibumba camp
Meet the Virunga Nat. Park officer and transfer to Kibumba camp.
Day 4: Mountain gorilla tracking in Virunga National Park
Morning transfer to the base of Mikeno volcano from where the trek through rain-forest to track down the mountain gorillas starts. In a small group, you will have one hour with a specific gorilla family before returning to the camp.
Day 5: Climb to the summit of Nyiragongo volcano
Hike to the summit caldera of Nyiragongo volcano (5-6 hours, about 7 km distance and ca 1400 m elevation) along a well established trail through rainforest and across the 2002 lava flows. Virunga National Park daily organises the volcano´s climb in one group, starting around 10 am in the morning and arriving at the campsite just below the crater rim in the afternoon. Evening and nighttime are free for observation of the volcano´s active lava lake.
Day 6: Full day at Nyiragongo's summit
From dawn to dusk, this entire first day on Nyiragongo´s summit is dedicated to discover the volcanic activity of the lava lake and explore the structure and volcanic phenomena of the surrounding caldera.
Day 7: Descend from Nyiragongo - Goma Volcano Observatory
Morning descend from Nyiragongo´s summit back to the Kibati patrol post and transfer back to the hotel in Goma for a welcome shower and lunch. Afternoon visit of the Goma Volcano Observatory and optional walk around the town.
Day 8: Return to Kigali, departure (or own extension)
Morning transfer back to Kigali, goodbye lunch and drop-off at the airport for your afternoon/evening return flight(s) or start of your travel extension in Rwanda.
Dates and details
Booking inquiry

Tour guide

Sam will be your main tour guide and driver throughout your travels in Rwanda and the DR Congo. He was born from Rwandese parents when they were in a refugee camp in Uganda and returned with them as a young man to settle in Kigali. Throughout the past few decades he traveled extensively throughout Rwanda, Uganda, Eastern Congo and Burundi and guided countless tours in this region. Being fluent in 5 languages (English, French and 3 local languages) and having a great interest in local history, culture, fauna and flora he is an excellent tour guide with lots of experience traveling to the DR Congo and hiking up Nyiragongo volcano. His good spirits, humour, practical mind and willingness to help will surely contribute to good memories of an unforgettable expedition!

As Sam is not a geologist, there will be a volcanologist from Goma Volcano Observatory accomopanying the group throughout the time spend on Nyiragongo to explain any volcanic phenomena or deposits and provide more insight into the history and activity of Nyiragongo and the wider volcanic region with Lake Kivu. If the group size is larger than 6 participants, there will also be a VolcanoDiscovery co-guide and volcanologist joining in the expedition.

Additionally, there is a park ranger assuring extra safety during each activity within Virunga National Park (Nyiragongo hike, summit camping and descent & mountain gorilla tracking).
Samuel Gasana, your main guide and driver during the Nyiragongo lava lake and mountain gorillas expedition

Marcellin Kasereka, volcanologist at the Goma Volcano Observatory, showing a large lava bomb along the way to the volcano´s summit

Additional info

Physical requirements

The climb up to Nyiragongo´s summit is strenuous and takes about 5-6 hours (1400m total altitude gain from ca 2000 masl to around 3400 masl and about 7 km distance) and starting in hot conditions, but the path is relatively easy and not excessively steep. The most challenging part of the descent from Nyiragongo´s summit are the first 200 m on the steep upper slopes which can be wet and slippery. Tracking the mountain gorillas may involve 3 up to 7 hours of moderate trekking across the Congolese farmlands and through rain forest. 

Lava trees on the lava flow of 2002
Lava trees on the lava flow of 2002
Honoré exchanging an automatic thermometer placed on a fracture
Honoré exchanging an automatic thermometer placed on a fracture
Dismantling the camp
Dismantling the camp
Orange flowers
Orange flowers
The lava lake seen from the campsite
The lava lake seen from the campsite
Encounter along a stop on our way...
Encounter along a stop on our way...
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