Nyiragongo, into the Inferno

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One of the most active volcanoes in the World, where – with extreme dangers – it is possible to reach the molten lava lake in the crater interior

Mount Nyiragongo is an active stratovolcano with an elevation of 3,470 metres (11,380 ft) in the Virunga Mountains (Virunga National Park), in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, about 20 km (12 mi) north of the town of Goma and Lake Kivu and just west of the border with Rwanda. The main crater is about two kilometres wide and usually contains an impressive lava lake. The crater presently has two distinct cooled lava benches within the crater walls – one at about 3,175 m (10,417 ft) and a lower one at about 2,975 m (9,760 ft). It is possible to descent the crater up to the second bench for scientific and documentation purposes. Nyiragongo’s lava lake has at times been the most voluminous known lava lake in recent history.

Ph. F. Pandolfo

Related Projects:




video spedizione di Francesco Pandolfo

In collaboration with:

logo agenzia di viaggi kailas

Logistics and transports
  • helicopter
  • ropes
  • tent
  • jeep

Points of interest

  • A new lateral vent has open in 2016 forming spectacular lava falls
  • The volcano is monitored for gas and earthquakes for eruption forecasts
  • Nyiragongo is close to the biggest Nyamualagira volcano, also one of the few volcanoes on Earth which have sustained lava lakes for several decades


Nyiragongo volcano can be accessed by land up to the crater rim, also thanks to the support of local labourers. However, the descent to the lower benches is strictly restricted and require a complex logistic and rope assistance. Nyamualagira can be reached only through helicopter flight. The social instability of the region require special permits and logistic support from the UN and local army.