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Eastern Congo park launches volcano eruption treks

Virunga National Park, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, has launched overnight volcano eruption treks to a "close but safe" site near Mount Nyamuragira, which is spewing lava fountains some 650 feet into the air.
Volcano eruption trek 11 14 2011Enlarge
A group of tourists visits the site of the Nyamuragira (also called Nyamulagira) volcano eruption, on a new trek launched by Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). (Cai Tjeenk Willink - Virunga National Park/Courtesy)

A park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has launched overnight volcano treks, taking tourists to see the spectacular eruption of Mount Nyamuragira.

Nyamuragira, also known as Nyamulagira, is Africa's most active volcano. It is located in the eastern Congo's Virunga National Park, famous for its population of critically endangered mountain gorillas. The latest volcano eruption has so far posed no threat to the gorillas.

The most recent eruption of Nyamuragira began November 6, and has since increased in intensity. The volcano is now spewing lava fountains some 650 feet into the air, in an uninhabited area, the park said in a statement. 

More from GlobalPost: Volcano erupts in eastern Congo (VIDEO)

On the volcano eruption treks, tourists are taken to a tented camp located in a "close but safe" area to the south of the erupting volcano, where they spend the night.

The trek includes transportation from the nearby city of Goma to the starting point at Rugari, plus a shared tent, a mat and a blanket. Visitors bring their own food, water, sleeping bag and rain gear.

The trekking site was chosen by Dario Tedesco, a volcanologist with the Goma Volcanological Observatory.

In a statement, Tedesco said the current eruption of Nyamuragira "is definitely the best and most spectacular eruption" he has ever seen at that volcano.

"The 200-300 meter [650-980 feet] 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 special…more than special," Tedesco said. 

The treks will continue until the eruption ends, Virunga National Park staff said. Eruptions can last anywhere from a few days to several months. An eruption of Nyamuragira in 1989 continued for nine months, while the last eruption, in January 2010, ended after a few days.

The park previously said that scientists are monitoring the volcanic activity and lava flow, but it "appears to be of no danger at this time to the surrounding population and the city of Goma, or the mountain gorillas and other wildlife." 

Nyamuragira is located near another active volcano in Virunga National Park, called Nyiragongo, which in 2002 famously sent a lava flow through the city of Goma, covering a fifth of the city.

More from GlobalPost: In Goma, living beneath a volcano 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/volcano-eruption-treks-eastern-congo-drc-tourism-nyamuragira-virunga

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