Traveling Congo Bongo Monday 20 August 2007
On Saturday we visited the Genocide Memorial in Kigali, and then we took a minibus to Gisenyi by lake Kivu. Next morning (yesterday) we crossed the border to Goma in Congo to go climb the volcano Nyiragongo. In 2002 this volcano erupted and the lava went right through the center of Goma, and nowadays it is one of only three volcanoes in the world that have a permanent lava lake (no idea what the others are, Danny read this somewhere) and we really wanted to see that. Eastern Congo is very dangerous because of rebel armies hiding there, but Goma is safe as it is protected by the UN and a general working for the Rwandese. Also, half my family has lived in the Congo for many years so I really wanted to visit the country.

We were first driven around Goma, which is still scarred by the lava with many buildings wiped out and others still standing but with their first floor buried (they still use the second floor though :) ). Then we drove to the volcano through the refugee camps, which was very impressive. There must be hundreds of thousands of refugees living there in housing ranging from huts made of banana leaves to wooden cabins.

We got two porters and a ranger with a machinegun to protect us. Climbing the volcano took 5 hours. I am completely out of shape and the altitude made my dizzy so it was tough, but we were on top at 5pm and the porters set up camp on the very edge of the volcano. The sight was incredible but it was still daylight. At around 7:30pm it was completely dark and the smoke cleared and we saw the lava lake in full glory. One of the most amazing sights of my life. Check the first picture in my web album. Wow eh? The lava lake is about 100m wide. The movies will be even better because I zoomed in a lot and they have the sound of the volcano, a loud rear especially when it was spewing fountains of lava.
Africa 2007

We slept in a tent on top of the volcano which was very cold (so I didn't sleep) and this morning we descended and now I'm back in Gisenyi. We just went for a swim in Lake Kivu - great beach but we couldn't relax because we had all our stuff with us and some local guys were acting very suspicious. Still had a nice swim each in turn though. Also uploaded a pic of that and some others to the web album.

Tomorrow we head to Butare from where we will make two day trips, one to another genocide memorial and another to some of the oldest rainforest in Africa. Then it's on to Burundi. Laters!


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