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Nyiragongo Volcano

Nyiragongo is one of the world's most active and beautiful volcanoes, hosting the world's largest persistent lava lake. The view from the edge of the summit crater looking down at the lava is one of the most mesmerizing sights imaginable, and well worth the arduous climb to get to the top.

Where: Mount Nyiragongo is located within Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, several miles north of Goma.

When: Anytime Nyiragongo isn't experiencing a major eruption is a good time to visit! The volcano is typically relatively quiet and safe to observe, but occasionally it has a major eruption (the most recent was in May 2021).

Photography: Before photographing Nyiragongo, first you have to get to the top. You'll have to join an organized trek up the mountain. The hike is steep, ascending over 5000 feet in 4-6 hours. The summit is 11,385 feet about sea level, so expect to feel some altitude. Hire a porter to carry your heavy camera gear. Trekkers stay overnight in shelters near the crater rim. Head to the rim at sunset, and as it gets darker, the lava lake will become more visible and photogenic. Twilight is a good time for photography, as you get a mix of blue light and red lava. Night is also excellent, as the surrounding landscape falls into shadow, and nothing is visible except the bright lava. Use a short telephoto zoom (like a 70-200mm) to tightly frame the lava lake; longer lenses allow you to capture abstract fractal patterns of the lava as it churns below you, while wide-angle lenses bring in the surrounding landscape.

Learn more: Visit this site to learn more about trekking to the summit of Nyiragongo.

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