Journey to the centre of the earth

Journey to the centre of the earth

Naturally you’d run away from lava if you saw it pouring from a volcanic crater in the not-so-distant horizon – wouldn’t you? Well, one national park in Africa is assuming otherwise.

As the newly erupting Volcano Nyamulagira in the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to unleash its worst, the area’s conservation organisation is offering brave tourists the chance to camp beside the volcano to witness the amazing scene.

The column of lava, which has been reaching peaks of 300 metres in height, has been described by Virunga National Park’s business development director, Cai Tjeenk Willink, as ‘the most intense experience of the power of the earth I have ever witnessed’.

It’s a power that can be felt thundering underground for miles around.

Adrenalin junkies will set off from Goma, in the eastern part of the country, and spend the night under canvas, into vegetation, at the south of the volcano, out of harm’s way – the tourist board seems pretty sure that most of Nyamulagira’s lava is flowing slowly north into an uninhabited region. It is unknown how long the eruption will last; it could be days, weeks or months.

Usually the park offers tours to the lava lake of a different crater, Nyiragongo, which is considered one of largest in the world; as well as tours to see endangered mountain gorillas – of which the park houses 200 out of the world’s 720.

The Volcanic Eruption Trek costs US$300. Price includes overnight trek, transportation, tent mat and a blanket. Treks last for 3-4 hours each way on a flat but rough trail and porters are available for $14 per trip. DR Congo visas cost US$50 and take five days to process through the government’s website. To book the tour, contact Virunga Tourism Office in Goma (; 00 243 991 715 401)

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