Fire And Brimstone

The mighty Nyiragongo. Never heard of it? I'm not surprised. Located in Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it's not quite as famous as the volcanoes of Hawaii, Eyjafjallajökull of Iceland (aka, that volcano that disrupted air travel in 2010), Mt. Vesuvius or Krakatoa.

Active Lava Lakes:

  • Erta Ale, Ethiopia
  • Mount Erebus, Antarctica
  • Kīlauea, Hawaii, United States
  • Ambryn, Vanuatu
  • Nyiragango, Democratic Republic of Congo

The Nyiragango having the largest lava lake of the past century. Recently a new lava lake appeared in neighboring Nyamuragira, although visiting it would be a bit more challenging due to the lack of tourist infrastructure. Not that Nyiragongo is truly developed, but in comparison, it's doable. Of the above, Mt. Erebus is undoubtedly the hardest and most expensive to get to, but I hope to one day find a way. Meanwhile, Erta Ale and Ambryn are on my short list.

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.
— Socrates

Today's Photo - Fire And Brimstone

One of the most amazing and wonderful sights of my life. For some time now I've become enamored with the idea of climbing a volcano to see a lava lake or at least see a somewhat active eruption. Granted, there are other active volcanoes around the world, but so few have the chance of seeing an actual lava lake in all its glory. Molten magma! It's right up there with some of the best experiences and sights I've seen, be it the Northern Lights, exploring Antarctica, the first time I saw the Grand Canyon, or any other view that takes your breath away.

I've rambled on and on, but, what is it like? With the rim of the volcano reaching an elevation of 3,470m (11,382ft), it's quite cold! You would expect the volcano to throw off a lot of heat, and while you can feel some warm drafts, it's not that warm. The lava lake is an ever-changing web of fiery magma. Real 'end of days' kind of stuff. The amount of smoke spewing out, I was lucky to see it when I did. In fact, after about a solid 30-45mins of a solid showing, the smoke became so thick and the wind blew in my direction, that the lava lake disappeared never to be seen again for the night.

A difficult journey, a difficult sight, but oh, what a wonderful view that night.

A difficult journey, a difficult sight, but oh, what a wonderful view that night.