Goma Travel Guide

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Goma has seen its fair share of hardships over the past decade. In 1994 it was home to upwards of one million Rwandan refugees, escaping the ethnic strife across the border. The influx of refugees combined with a total lack of infrastructure turned the area into a breeding ground for disease, including an outbreak of cholera that claimed thousands of lives.

The Rwandan government claimed that the refugee camps were home to thousands of Hutu extremists and staged attacks on the camps in November 1996 and August 1998, killing hundreds if not thousands.

A few short years later tragedy struck again with the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo. Located just outside of the city's northern limits the Volcano erupted in the early hours of January 17, 2002. Most Goma residents were able to escape across the border to Gisenyi in Rwanda but over 200 people lost their lives. The "red river" of lava ravaged the town, destroying the homes or property of over 350,000 residents.

Today, despite continued violence in the North Kivu region, Goma is slowly recovering. The remnants from Mt. Nyiragongo's eruption are still present everywhere. Homes, shops and roads are slowly being rebuilt - on top of the hardened lava. Every reminders of the devastation caused by the event are everywhere. Most striking are the remnants of the city's cathedral, encased in lava yet still visible under your feet.

Goma is a pleasant little town with a few restaurants, hotels, post office and lots of football and pool tables. At the time of writing (July 2005) visas were easily obtained at the border with Rwanda for 30$. For now you can climb the Volcano and pass the night in a tente at the top of the volcano and admire the lake of red lava inside the crater. This with Gorilla treking can be aranged by any tour operator based in Goma.

 

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July 20, 2005 new by the_influence (1 point)

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