Preparing for the Nyiragongo Hike is very important especially with the fact that one has to spend a night the summit. There are a few pointers that one should also take note of. Given from people’s experience; those that have hiked this mountain, it isn’t one you go for when you are not ready.
After booking your hiking permit to the world’s largest lava lake with either Virunga National Park or your trusted tour operator, and the days to your hike are getting closer, here’s a few things to check;
First of all, make sure you are physically fit as this hike is a bit strenuous in a way that it rains a lot here so the ground is soggy most of the time. You may opt to go for some exercises so that your body could get used and you can defeat the challenging hike.
Also check if you will be hiking as a solo traveler or you will be joined with a group. The beauty about hiking Nyiragongo is even the slow hikers are given chance to reach as they will have their porters who will move at their pace but this is vital as it is better to hike as a group for morale boast. I would also advise you to book this hike with a friend if one is interested so as to keep the hike interesting and more exciting. Find each other’s strengths and weakness and support each other through. This could make the experience a much better one on reaching the summit.
Ensure to get yourself the Nyiragongo backpack on your hike as it has enough water to keep you hydrated. It is very important to stay hydrated while using a lot of energy so as to keep your body from over straining.
It is also important to know about the mountain you will be hiking for this case, the political climate of Nyiragongo, routes; here you can use google maps or Map Me in areas of no phone service, the weather (though with this it is tricky as on hikes, you pass through different temperatures) and the dos and don’ts so as to not be caught off guard.
Trekking wear could be one of the most vital things when preparing for a hike. Having the right foot wear and enough dry clothes could be a blessing during and after your hike. Ensure to pack good strong hiking boots. 2 pairs could do you justice so that on the second day of descent, you do not have to wear the wet shoes of the first day in case it rained. Ensure these boots are comfortable and durable as you will be hiking for a while. Also, I advise to pack shoes that you trust and have used before instead of carrying a new pair of hiking books that may or may not disappoint you on the hike.
Ensure to carry a sleeping bag on your Nyiragongo hike as the shelters at the summit have only beds and you will need as much warmth as you can get when up there. It is the top of a red hot volcano but can be as chilling as the altitude at which you are.
Carry enough warm clothes! This isn’t the place to be wearing shorts or skimpy because of the high grasses you will pass through keeping in mind it is a forest and also the weather on this mountain can be around 10°C to 8°C.
Also, do not forget to carry along with you your required medication like altitude pills for those with height phobia, mosquito repellent.
Also, hike light. By this I mean only pack the important things to avoid excessive weight to weigh you down and tire you out fast even if there are porters. These porters will help but remember they charge per 15 kg.
As you will hike for about 5 hours on Nyiragongo until you reach your shelter, you will need a snack or something to bite midway so packing the right snack is vital. Oily or fatty foods are not the best choice when the body is being taxed and the energy needed is a lot so a lighter peanut and butter sandwich could be a great choice.
And like any travel plan, it is important to inform the people around you or a close person in case of anything, that information can be used to help you.
After knowing all these and checking them, you will be ready for this memorable once in a life time experience. Lastly! Don’t forget your camera to capture the World’s largest lava lake bubbling in the night at the summit.