Red-hot attraction

Wow! The Nyamulagira volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo is spewing out lava in what volcanologists say may be its biggest eruption in 100 years. Unexpectedly, witnessing mountains gushing oozy rivers of unimaginably hot lava is, well, hot! So visitors are flocking to the site to see it for themselves. Virunga Park rangers have set up a camp from which visitors can hike up to and spend the night viewing the fireworks.

Original source, gorillcd.org. Setting up camp near the volcano. ©Cai Tjeenk Willink-Virunga National Park

The eruption, which began on 6 November, has increased in intensity, with several lava fountains, some reaching up to 200 metres in height, and with lava flowing slowly north into an uninhabited area of the park. The treks to the site will continue until the eruption ends. The new tented camp for visitors is located just south of the volcano in a close but safe area, selected by volcanologist Dr Dario Tedesco with the Goma Volcanological Observatory (OVG).

Eruptions can last from a few days to several months. A similar event in 1989 continued for nine months. According to Dr Tedesco, “This is definitely the best and most spectacular eruption of Nyamulagira I have ever seen. The lava fountains, the closeness and the arrangement of the camping site, and finally the incredible show given by the lights of the incandescent lava made everything more than special.”

Virunga National Park is Africa’s oldest national park and a World Heritage Site. With the help of the European Union, it has driven a major effort to relaunch tourism in Eastern Congo over the past two years. Access to volcanic eruptions has never been offered to visitors before.

Go to www.gorillacd.org if you’re a volcano head and want to find out more, or email tourism@gorilla.cd

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