Congo’s erupting volcano boosts tourism

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series spotlighting the Democratic Republic of Congo as elections get underway on 28 November.

Story highlights

Virunga National Park in the DRC is inviting tourists on overnight treks to see an erupting volcano

Eight volcanoes are found in the vicinity of the national park but only two are currently active

Surrounding wildlife, like the endangered mountain gorillas, are out of harm 50 km away

CNN  — 

Spewing red hot lava 300 meters in the air, an erupting volcano in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is turning the war-torn African country into an unlikely tourist destination.

Tourists have been visiting the Virunga National Park on overnight treks and in increasing numbers to witness the latest lava eruptions from the volcano, which have been flowing since November 6.

Mount Nyamulagira is considered to be the most active volcano in the area and for $300 each, around 60 to 70 volcano fans have been traveling an hour from the eastern city of Goma to the start of the trek at the Virunga National Park.

With the aid of the European Union, Virunga National Park has been a driver in boosting tourism to eastern Congo over the past few years.

Tourism officials predict that visitor numbers at Virunga National Park will rise to nearly 4,000 this year – up from 1,800 in 2010, while Africa’s oldest national park is expected to raise over $1 million in revenue for the first time in its history, according to a report in the International Business Times.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to eight national parks, five of which are UNESCO