In pictures: Congo hopes volcano will be tourist draw

AN ARMED ranger in Virunga National Park, eastern Congo, looks unimpressed as Mount Nyamulagira blows its top. The central Africa country hopes to use the eruption as a tourist attraction.

Mount Nyamulagira began erupting on November 6 and could continue to do so for days, or even months.

The national park is best known for its mountain gorillas but is now inviting tourists to go on overnight treks to see the volcano spurting fountains of lava nearly 1,000 feet into the air.

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Rivers of lava are flowing into the uninhabited areas of the park, but it poses no danger to the 200 critically endangered mountain gorillas which live there.

Nyamulagira has been described as Africa’s most active volcano and has erupted over 40 times since 1885.

The park has set up a tented camp nearly one mile south of the eruption where tourists can spend the night. For $300, the park provides transportation for the hour-long drive from the eastern capital of Goma and wardens to guide visitors on the three- to four-hour hike to the camp.

Virunga is located in eastern Congo, where numerous militia and rebel groups continue to terrorise the population nearly a decade after the country’s civil war ended. Some 360 park rangers protect the park and its wildlife from poachers, rebel groups, illegal miners and land invasions.

Nyiragongo erupted destructively in 2002, destroying most of Goma city including 14,000 homes and forcing 350,000 residents to flee.