Nyiragongo Volcano, with the world’s largest lava lake.
Just before the outbreak of the current troubles, we were working on identifying the areas where we want to set up our new Tented Camps for visitors. We decided that a fly over the area would be the ideal way to identify potential locations and so we set out on a late afternoon flight in our little park plane. We were treated to all the stunning views the southern sector of the park has to offer, which is very rare due to the fact that this area is usually covered in mist and clouds throughout most of the year (”Gorillas in the Mist” was an accurate title for the movie).
In my year and a half at Virunga I have not seen skies as clear as these. It is days like these that we are reminded why we work on protecting this place as the awesome scenery is truly some of the most spectacular to be found in the world. Where else can you do a 1 hour flight and fly over dense jungle (knowingly full of mountain gorillas, buffaloes and elephant), circle around 2 dormant volcanoes, to then fly between 2 active volcanoes, both spouting fumes into the air, to continue over a large stretch of swampy area, with crystal clear waters and hippos diving under, to finally cross the savanna, within the distance of the mighty Virungas.
All I can say is I hope the pictures can convey some of the beauty I saw that day.
Mt Mikeno in the foreground, Karisimbi in the distance.
Sabinyo Volcano in the distance that borders Congo and Rwanda, with the forest home of our mountain gorillas below.
Mt Mikeno and Karisimbi in the distance, with Visoke and Sabinyo in the foreground, all extinct volcanoes in the Virunga Massif.
Sabinyo volcano that borders Congo and Rwanda.
Looking out the back window of the plane, Mt Mikeno on the left, and Karisimbi on the right.
Mt Mikeno summit where I climbed last August and nearly killed myself.
Nyiragongo in the distance. Old lava flow in the foreground.
Nyamulagira volcano began smoking at the summit in Feb/March of this year, the first time this level of activity has been seen in the crater for about 70 years.
An old volcano cone from Nyamulagira, similar to the eruption that we just had in 2011-12.
Nyiragongo on the left in the distance, and the smoking Nyamulagira on the right.
The Rutshura river near the central sector of the park. You can see the savanna beginning in the distance.