Virunga mountains in DR Congo
Virunga mountains are some of the attractions to visit while on a safari in DR Congo. The Virunga mountains in DR Congo are all located in Virunga national park which is home to endangered mountain gorillas. The Virunga mountains are the most hike in DR Congo and they include Mount Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira which are active volcanoes, and lastly Mount Mikeno which is a dormant volcano.
Mount Nyiragongo is 3,470 meters, Mount Nyamuragira is 3,058 meters and Mount Mikeno is 4,437 meters. Getting to the summit of these mountains takes an average of 5-6 hours of going through steep slopes, and rugged terrain, and getting to the summit depends on the speed of hikers and then the nature of the terrain. Hiking the Virunga volcanoes in DR Congo can be done best in the dry season and getting to these mountains is easy when you use the Rwanda Congo border.
The following are the Virunga mountains that are entirely found in Virunga national park of DR Congo;
Mount Nyiragongo: Mount Nyiragongo is the most hiked mountain in DR Congo. The volcano is located in the eastern part of eth country inside Virunga national park. Mountain Nyiragongo is part of the Virunga conservation area together with Karisimbi, Bisoke, Nyamuragira, Mikeno, Sabyinyo, Gahinga, and Muhabura.
Hiking mount Nyiragongo takes 5-6 hours to get to an elevation of 340 meters above sea level. Mount Nyiragongo is the most active volcano in the world having last erupted in May 2021. Hiking Mountain Nyiragongo is every traveler’s dream come true as they get to hike the most active volcano in the world with the largest lava lake at the summit.
Mount Nyamuragira: Mount Nyamuragira is part of the Virunga volcanoes located in Virunga national park of DR Congo. The mountain is located about 25 km north of Lake Kivu. Nyamuragira is part of the Virunga mountains together with Nyiragongo, Bioske, Karisimbi, Muhabura, Gahinga, Mikeno and Sabyinyo.
Mountain Nyamuragira is one of the world’s active volcanoes and its last eruption occurred in November 2011. The active volcano stands at an elevation of 3,058 meters above sea level. Getting to the summit of mount Nyamuragira takes 5-6 hours of passing through steep slopes and rugged terrain. T the summit of this mountain is a lava lake 500 meters deep and it was formed in 2014. Hiking to the summit of this mountain takes 4-5 hours and hikers can stay at the bungalow built at the summit.
Mount Mikeno: This is a dormant volcano situated in the Virunga region in DR Congo 5.5 km west of Mount Karisimbi. Mount Mikeno stands at an elevation of 4,437 meters above sea level making it the second-highest Virunga volcano. Mountain Mikeno is part of Virunga national park and its slopes are home to endangered mountain gorillas which you can even encounter during the hike that takes 5-6 hours if you are lucky enough.
Climbing Virunga volcanoes in DR Congo
Hiking Virunga volcanoes in DR Congo is not so easy so you need to come very prepared for the hike. Hiking any of the Virunga volcanoes in DR Congo requires you to be physically fit so as to make it to the summit in the time given. Hiking Virunga volcanoes starts with a briefing where hikers are taught about the rules and regulations of the hiking activity.
Armed ranger guides do lead the trekkers to the summit of the mountain suing the fasted hiking trails. During the hike, the hikers are able to meet different vegetation covers, birds such as tropical boubou, collared sunbird, pin-tailed whydah, grey-throated barbet, klaas’s cuckoo, blue-headed coucal, hadeda ibis, animals such as topi, elephants, bushbucks, giant forest hogs, warthogs, buffaloes, duikers, red river hog, aardvark, olive baboons, and monkeys among others.
Hiking Virunga volcanoes takes you through steep slopes and rugged terrain but eventually, you make it to the summit. Hiking Nyiragongo, Nyamuragira, and Mikeno normally take 5-6 hours with different stopovers at some points of the mountain for relaxation. At the summit of the volcanoes, some people can decide to have an overnight stay or get down that very day.
At the summit of Virunga volcanoes, hikers with have a view of lava lakes (Mount Nyamuragira and Mount Nyiragongo), Rwenzori mountains, Kahuzi Biega national park, Virunga national park, Lake Kivu, plantations, homesteads, and Virunga volcanoes among others. At mount Nyiragongo, hikers do get an overnight stay on the cabins at the summit and get down the mountain the following day. Staying at the summit of the volcanoes requires you to move with your sleeping bag and warm clothes because it’s very cold. You will wake up to a morning breakfast and great voes then get down the mountain.
After enjoying the summit of Virunga volcanoes in DR Congo, you will join your ground and descend down the mountain. Descending takes a few hours to get to the starting punt where you meet your driver to transfer you to eth lodge or your next destination. While descending Virunga volcanoes in DR Congo, you meet different park mammals, primates, birds, and different vegetation covers.
How much is Virunga volcano hiking in DR Congo?
For hikers to be part of the Virunga volcano hiking, they need to have a valid hiking permit which they can get through a trusted local tour operator or Virunga national park offices. The hiking permits allow you to be part of the hiking team to trek o the summit of these volcanoes. Hiking permits for Virunga volcanoes costs $300 per person per trek.
What to pack for Virunga volcano hiking?
After booking a hiking safari to any of the Virunga volcanoes in DR Congo, next is getting your packing list ready. Things that shouldn’t miss on the parking list include waterproof hiking shoes, long-sleeved clothes, a rain jacket, a pair of gaiters, gardening gloves, cotton stocks, insect repellents, a sleeping bag, a hat, sunscreen, a camera and extra batteries, drinking water bottle, energy-giving snacks, a pair of binoculars, face mask, sanitizer, and first aid kit.
What is the best to hike Virunga mountains in DR Congo?
Virunga volcanoes in DR Congo can be hiked at any time of the year but there are months that are better than the rest and these are dry months. The drier months are the best for a safari in DR Congo and these happen from June to September and December to February. These months are characterized by little or no rainfall and this leaves the hiking trails less muddy, the vegetation is short with clear views of wildlife and surroundings, and lastly, the roads leading to these mountains are passable.
Hikers can still visit DR Congo for Virunga volcano hiking in the rainy season of March to May and October to November to enjoy huge discounts on accommodation facilities and hiking permits. The rainy season is characterized by a lot of rainfall that makes the hiking trails muddy and slippery, the vegetation is tall giving unclear views of the park animals and vegetation, and the roads leading to the mountains are impassable.