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“You need to be FIT”
Review of Mount Nyiragongo

Mount Nyiragongo
Ranked #1 of 6 things to do in Goma
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Fontvieille, Monaco
Level 6 Contributor
114 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 101 helpful votes
“You need to be FIT”
Reviewed May 6, 2012

I had been looking forward to this trip for weeks - I also spent a day with the leader of my tour company the week before and asked him a dozen times if he thought i was fit enough (I am relatively fit, early 40's, have probably an excess 20 lbs and weak ankles). He convinced me I would be fine. What noone seems to mention is that the 'path' is like walking up on lumps of coal (for 4 hours). This is the lava that fell from the last eruption. It is incredibly uncomfortable, and slippery. I had to bail after 3 hours when it started to pour with rain. For sure I could have probably made it up, but i was petrified about the way down. Even with hiking poles (that i brought as i know i need them to support the ankles) and the best hiking boots (thank you salomon) I am sure it would have taken me 6-7 hours to come down. I didn't want to subject myself to that (in the pouring rain) nor did i want to subject my fellow hikers to waiting for me. I am sure it would have been an incredible experience and I am gutted that i didn't make it any further but also frustrated that I was allowed to start in the first place. So all the sites that say 'average fitness' required are lying. I live in a ski resort and ski and hike regularly - I am definitely of average fitness but the 6 hours hiking that I did almost killed me - by the time i reached the bottom i felt like my toenails were going to drop off, i was full of blisters (despite thick socks and well broken in boots) and i was a shaking wreck. Go and enjoy, but make sure you're up for it!

Visited May 2012
12 Thank penguinwebb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Level 3 Contributor
8 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“An attraction not to misss”
Reviewed January 17, 2012

Everyone have said the experience is fantastic - and it is so I do not nead to repeat that. Here is som practical info instead:
- The hike starts at 1984 meters and the crater rim is at 3470 meters. 2 armed rangers are leading the hike and we have to stay together as one group. There are 4 rest places en route.
- The porters carry what you want (25 USD per load) and stop at the same rest places so you do not need to carry more than you want in your daypack
- We stayed at Mikeno Lodge before and after the hike and they provided all food for the 25 hrs we spent on the mountain free of charge
-Bring your own stove and pots if you do not want to eat cold food
- The huts have matresses with thick plastic cover and dirty pillows. A thin sleeping mat and a pillow cower will add to the comfort
- Bring a good head touch
- I missed my earplugs, the wind was very noisy in the night
- A trick when using the toilet; pack the used toilet paper around a small rock before you (try to) throw it down the hole, you will understand why.....

Visited January 2012
13 Thank Helledussen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Arusha, Tanzania
Level 5 Contributor
77 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“"No Substitute, Awesome!"”
Reviewed November 3, 2011

The world's largest lava lake can be only be described as totally hypnotic and well worth the tough 5 hour trek to the summit. Don't forget to pack your thermals as it gets pretty cold up at the top."

Visited May 2011
8 Thank benagirl83
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Budapest, Hungary
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
Reviewed October 2, 2011

To sum it up: it's really worth the hassle.

The track up is 5 hours, down we managed in 3.5.
August is supposed to be in dry season, still, on Nyiragongo you should always expect rain, so you'd better prepare. The top of the volcano is at 3500m, so it will be cold at night - especially if you got wet during the track. (To be honest without the huts, which have been recently set up the night could have turned to be really difficult.)

But to see the lava lake boiling, changing, especially at night is truly worth all the effort.

Visited August 2011
11 Thank bgorboi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Nyiragongo - once in a lifetime”
Reviewed August 13, 2011

Thought I'd write a review on this great attraction.
Firstly, the official website of Nyiragongo which is in Virunga National Park, near Goma, DRC. http://www.visitvirunga.org/
The volcano is done on an overnight tour, starting in the town of Goma just across the border from Gisenyi in Rwanda. It involves about 5-6 hours trekking on the 1st day up to the volcano itself and then you stay at 8 huts, with 2 beds each right on the crater rim about 30m from peering inside the crater. Then you head back down the mountain in the morning and back to Goma.
Getting across to DRC is difficult and the whole place doesn't feel particularly safe, despite the heavy UN presence. I am an Australian citizen and had to buy a visa at the border (grand barriere), not the small border. The visa itself only costs $35USD, but you need some special letter from the governor of tourism that a local at the border can organise for you, or perhaps somebody prior but that costs $250USD! It may involve a bribe, which mine did of $15-50USD. There is a DRC embassy in Kigali which costs $140USD and takes several days but I overheard that this is not accepted at the Gisenyi border. So this is the biggest hassle in the whole process. All up, I waited at the border for about 3-4 hours, while my 'guide'/local person got my letter, to allow me into the country. Make sure you have your return Rwandan visa letter ready too for your return.
I talked to a few local people involved in tourism there and they are all aware of the bribe and cost. Apparently last year, there was no letter required, but now it is for whatever reason. It deterred quite a few people I talked to. It may be less for US citizen (I heard $200 for the letter).
Once in Goma, there are a variety of hotels (quite expensive but safe at least) and some guest houses. I stayed in La Brise on Corniche Ave which was very good. Thankfully I met a expat from Aus working for the UN who was very helpful!
The Virunga park staff (predom Vianni) was helpful and trustworthy. You need to either go to the bank in the morning or transfer money into their account and get a receipt to confirm your place. It costs $200 for park entry, ranger/guides, accommodation. Transport is about $25 each way. Food is extra so you have to bring your own.
The volcano itself is incredible. I cannot recommend it highly enough. You will feel, see and hear the huge lava lake as it moves and as it changes colour at night. It does get cold at night so bring thermals, and a good sleeping bag. The hike is probably medium grade and no technical climbing. It can be wet in the forest region at the base.
If you get the chance to go, it is an amazing experience. Probably the best advice I can give is to go with a tour, as it takes out the border hassles, and getting around the town and transport issues, etc.
Hope that helps!

Visited July 2011
14 Thank adtraveller83
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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