Goma town, nestled in the Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, offers a captivating blend of natural beauty and cultural significance. Located in the breathtaking Albertine rift valley along the shores of Lake Kivu, Goma is renowned for its proximity to Nyiragongo Mountain, Africa’s most active volcano. Here’s your guide to the intriguing world of Goma, including where to stay and what to do.
Goma is a city that has weathered the storms of history, enduring the harrowing civil unrest of the 1990 Congo wars. These conflicts left a trail of destruction and despair, with countless refugees seeking shelter in Goma when the Rwandan Genocide came to an end. The town became a sanctuary for these displaced individuals, provided by the United Nations. Tragically, Goma faced another calamity as a cholera outbreak swept through the Hutu refugee camp, claiming the lives of thousands. To add to the turmoil, elements associated with the Rwandan Genocide targeted the Hutu refugees in Goma, exacting revenge and further escalating the violence. Consequently, Goma today hosts numerous Non-Governmental Organization offices and a military presence tasked with maintaining security and order.
In the midst of its recovery, Goma encountered another cataclysmic event in 2002 when the Nyiragongo Volcano erupted. A massive flow of lava surged through the town, leaving a wake of destruction in its path, including extensive damage to property and loss of lives. The volcanic flow even reached Goma Airport, threatening the shores of Lake Kivu and the lives of millions. This eruption solidified Nyiragongo’s status as one of the world’s few remaining active volcanoes.
Today, as the political situation in Goma stabilizes, the remnants of the 2002 lava flow are a testament to the town’s resilience and a sight worth witnessing for travelers to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Furthermore, an increasing number of tourists are drawn to Goma for the exhilarating opportunity to hike Nyiragongo Volcano.
To reach Goma, you have two main options: by road or by air. You can fly to Kigali International Airport in Rwanda and then drive to Gisenyi town, which is situated on the Rwandan border adjacent to Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Alternatively, you can opt for a direct flight to Goma Airport, with Ethiopian Airlines operating daily flights to this destination.
Goma town serves as a gateway to numerous captivating attractions in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Before venturing further afield, take some time to explore these local treasures:
Mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano standing at 3,470 meters high. Embarking on a hike to its summit promises an unforgettable experience, offering a chance to witness the mesmerizing red glow of one of the world’s largest lava lakes. Spending a night at the summit’s shelters adds a thrilling dimension to this adventure, as you gaze out at the valley and surrounding landscapes.
After your adventurous exploits, savor some moments of tranquility at the tented camp on Tchegera Island in Lake Kivu. The camp provides a serene escape, offering breathtaking views of the lake and the Nyiragongo Volcano, whose fiery display lights up the night sky, painting it in vivid red hues. The bay here is also safe for swimming, free from the presence of crocodiles.
While Goma may have limited lodging options, there are comfortable lodges to cater to travelers on safari in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Consider accommodations such as Lac Kivu Lodge, Hotel Cap Kivu, Ihusi Hotel, Linda Hotel, and Karibu Hotel, among others. These establishments offer a range of choices to suit various preferences and budgets.
Goma boasts a burgeoning culinary scene, thanks to its international expatriate community engaged in NGO work. You’ll find a selection of restaurants offering high-quality cuisine, both local and international. Don’t miss the chance to dine at establishments like Le Chalet, Au Bon Pain, and Nyumbani Lounge, where you can savor delectable meals and create lasting memories.
Before crossing the border into Goma or arriving by flight, ensure you meet the necessary entry requirements. You must possess a valid passport with an expiry date of at least six months from your travel date. Additionally, a valid yellow fever card, not older than 10 years, is mandatory for entry.
Venture into Goma town, a place that has endured adversity and emerged as a resilient destination. Discover its remarkable attractions, savor its culinary delights, and witness the enduring spirit of this extraordinary town in the heart of the Congo.