Goma is a city in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. It is located on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, next to the Rwandan city of Gisenyi. The lake and the two cities are in the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift system. Goma lies only about 15 kilometres south of the crater of the active Nyiragongo Volcano. The recent history of Goma has been dominated by the volcano and the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, which in turn fuelled the First and Second Congo Wars. The aftermath of these events was still having effects on the city and its surroundings in 2010. The city was captured by rebels during the M23 rebellion in late 2012, but has since been retaken by government forces.
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The Virunga National Park is what Bwindi Impenetrable is to Uganda or the Volcanoes National Park to Rwanda: a large protected mountainous wilderness, mainly to preserve the last several hundreds or so of the Moutain Gorilla and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the late seventies of the twentieth century. Chimpanzees, forest elephants, giraffe and even okapi can be found here, although there numbers have diminished in recent years because of the unstable political and economical situation. Still, travellers who can't get a permit in Rwanda or Uganda to visit the mountain gorillas, might be lucky to get one here as chances are better and it is cheaper. The main access point is from Rwanda to Goma but entries from Uganda might be possible as well, just check in advance regarding the visa and safety regulations during the time you will visit.
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Mount Nyiragongo is an active stratovolcano, located in the Virunga Mountains, just within the borders of the Virunga National Park. It's just about 20 kilometres north of Lake Kivu and Goma] and therefore is one of the 16 potential deadliest volcanoes in the world, which are on the Decade Volcano List(see below). The top of the volcano lies at 3,470 metres above sea level and the main crater is about 2 kilometres wide. The crater lake is one of the most voluminous in the world and before the major eruption of 1977 the depth was around 600 metres, although it's considerably less now. The volcano has another major eruption in 2002 (lava flowed down to the Goma airport and even into Rwanda!) and again has been active continuously since 2010, but this activity is limited to the crater area. It's a popular daytrip for hikers and can even be undertaken from nearby Rwanda.
There are several flights from many towns of Congo to Goma. There is a daily flight from Kinshasa to Goma which is operated by CAA and Wimbi Dira Airways.
From Kisoro, Uganda, you can take a minibus in Bunagana at the Uganda border. However, as of May 2015, the road between Bunagana and Rutshuru is not safe. Crossing the border at Cyanika into Rwanda to reach Goma through Ruhengeri/Musanze and Gisenyi is a much safer and faster option.
From Rwanda there are hourly minibuses from Kigali to Goma, such as Atraco Express and Okapi Car. These will take approximately three and a half hours.
From Butembo you can find a bus in Butembo bus station. They may leave early in the morning.
There are daily ferries from Bukavu via Idjwi Island. There are several companies that offer the 2-5 hour trip.
You can use boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) to get around Goma. The normal (local) price is ~500 Congolese Francs for the short ride.
See also International Telephone Calls
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