Jambojet; Kenya’s leading low-cost airline will begin flights to the Democratic Republic of Congo from the 10th of September 2021. The much-anticipated launch will attract business people, tourists, diplomats, and friends and family of people living in the DRC.
Here is a list of must-see places if you are a first-time visitor to Goma.
Expect the list to grow long after I visit Goma 😀
Goma is the capital of North Kivu, a province in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is located on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, next to the Rwandan city of Gisenyi, and just is 12 km south of the active Nyiragongo Volcano. Goma borrows from the rich tropical qualities that are synonymous with DRC. Healthy tropical indigenous jungles, vast lakes, and great mountains. The town has seen difficult times between volcanic eruptions and rebel wars. However, it has since been retaken by government forces. It keeps its characteristic resilience in the beauty it has to offer and keeps rising stronger.
Its proximity to the Great Lake Kivu and the Virunga Mountains make it indispensable in the tourism of Congo, However that is not all that Goma has to offer. These are some of the top reasons to consider visiting Goma;
1. Gorilla trek in Virunga National Park
Gorilla trekking is the stuff of one’s wildest dreams, It is no wonder it is one of the world’s top bucket list travel activities. There are few places in the world where one can see or even come close to the largest apes which bear such striking similarities with humans. In Africa, they can only be found in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In DR Congo, travelers get to engage with endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat off the beaten path. From Goma, you can enjoy one of the greatest wildlife encounters on earth with endemic primates like silver-backed mountain gorillas that are facing extinction. Who would pass up such an experience of a lifetime?
Image Courtesy: Congo Gorilla Safaris.
2. Climb Nyiragongo Mountain.
Goma town is within 12km of the Nyiragongo Mountain. The mountain hosts an active volcano, famous for its lava lake. The mountain is a technically easy climb from the direction of Goma. The lava lake has been a subject of awe for travelers until its recent eruption in May 2021. A trip to the top would take 6-8 hours, so most climbers spend the night at the top observing the boiling lake. Nyiragongo was the only mountain with a boiling lava lake that is open to tourists but was recently closed after the eruption.
3. Cruise on Lake Kivu
The Great Lake Kivu, like most volcanic formations in Congo, is a subject of awe. It is ranked among the world’s 20 deepest and 20 most voluminous freshwater bodies. Lake Kivu, one of the two African Great Lakes, is a sleeping giant. Still suppressing volcanic activity below its surface it holds naturally occurring carbon dioxide and methane gas. However, the lake has more than risk. The expansive lake is lined with small fishing villages and it presents endless possibilities for sports enthusiasts. Tourists can engage in stand-up paddling, water-skiing, motorboat rides, and much more. However, even just sitting by the outcrops and watching the expansive lake is just as satisfying, all the while watching the numerous birds.
Image Courtesy: Resources Magazine
4. Tour Goma City
A tour of Goma town brings you as close to its culture as you can get. Arranged tours help to make you experience life in Goma as a local, allowing you to walk and relax while taking photos, visiting local markets, and buying local crafts. Local guides help you find and see city monuments, statues, and the borders of Rwanda. The tour can also help you spot or visit attractive hotels, restaurants, and universities.
5.View Indigenous Wildlife in Virunga National Park
The Virunga park 7,800 sq. km was established in 1925 and is the oldest national park in Congo and Africa. It is home to a variety of indigenous wildlife like bonobos, African forest elephants, mountain gorillas and okapi, lions, hippopotamuses, rare mountain gorillas, antelope, and warthogs. While visiting Goma the Virunga experience is a must on a checklist.
6.Soak in the Culture.
In Goma, music is a healing balm. The region has taken up music and dance battle to replace conflict. Its musical intonations and strong colonial heritage have greatly influenced Congolese culture. The city is reclaiming one of its most distinct attributes; music by promoting cultural centers and festivals to support artists. Indulge in the eclectic blend of Cuban rumba and merengue that gave birth to Soukous. Enjoy these authentic tunes and let loose while in Goma. Learn best from the locals and allow yourself to escape.
8.Learn Gorilla Conservation in Senkwekwe
After visiting the Virunga park there is always one more stopover you must make. The Senkwekwe Gorilla Conservation Centre caters to young mountain gorillas that have lost their parents due to poaching, animal trafficking, or fighting between government forces and rebels in the area. The center has become the only sanctuary in the world where mountain gorillas live successfully in captivity. Gorillas at the orphanage relate more easily with humans and are much more fun to watch. Furthermore, you can contribute to their conservation.
Image Courtesy: Africa Travel Journal
While Goma’s reputation has mostly featured on its tragedy, there lie depths of great beauty and indisputable charm. Visiting it is your chance to experience never seen before exceptional beauty and borrow from the resilience of this town. We believe the above attractions have just been added to your bucket list.
While at it, check out this blog post I wrote about top things to do in Lamu, as Jambojet plans to relaunch that route on the 15th of September 2012.