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The Democratic Republic Of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo (General)
Type of Location
About Location

Goma is a city in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, next to the Rwandan city of Gisenyi.The lake and the two cities are in the western branch of the Great Rift Valley, and Goma lies only 13 to 18 km due 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.Goma is capital of North Kivu province, ethnically and geographically similar to South Kivu (capital Bukavu) the two provinces are known as the Kivus.

The Rwandan Genocide of 1994 was perpetrated by the Hutu-dominated provisional Rwandan government on the Tutsi population and Hutu moderates.In response the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), formed by Tutsi refugees in Uganda, which already controlled large areas of northern Rwanda following its 1990 invasion and the ongoing Civil War, overthrew the Hutu government in Kigali and forced it to relocate to the border town of Gisenyi.As the RPF captured ground, thousands of Hutu refugees fled before it, many ending up in Gisenyi.Then, from July 13 to July 14, 1994, 10,000–12,000 refugees per hour crossed the border into Goma as the Great Lakes refugee crisis took shape.The massive influx created a severe humanitarian crisis, as there was an acute lack of shelter, food and water.Shortly after the arrival of nearly one million refugees, a deadly cholera outbreak claimed thousands of lives in the Hutu refugee camps around Goma.

Hutu militias and members of the Hutu provisional government were among the refugees, and they set up operations from the camps around Goma attacking ethnic Tutsis in the Kivus and Rwandan government forces at the border.For political reasons the Kinshasa government of the then Zaire led by Joseph Mobutu did not prevent the attacks, and so the Rwandan government and its Ugandan allies threw their support behind the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Zaire, a rebel movement led by Laurent Kabila against Mobutu.Rwandan forces stormed the camps at Goma, resulting in thousands of additional deaths, and with their help and that of Uganda, Kabila went on to overthrow Mobutu's regime in the First Congo War, which ended in 1997.

In January 2002, Nyiragongo erupted, sending a stream of lava 200 metres (219 yd) to one kilometre (1,100 yd) wide and up to two metres deep through the center of the city as far as the lake shore. Agencies monitoring the volcano were able to give a warning and most of the population of Goma evacuated to Gisenyi.The lava destroyed 40% of the city (more than 4,500 houses and buildings).There were some fatalities caused by the lava and by emissions of carbon dioxide, which causes asphyxiation.The lava also covered over the northern 1 km of the 10,000 ft runway of Goma International Airport, isolating the terminal and apron which were at that end.The lava can easily be seen in satellite photographs,and aircraft can be seen using the 2-km (6,500-ft) southern section of the runway which is clear of lava.

Lake Kivu is one of three lakes in Africa identified as having huge quantities of dissolved gas held at pressure in its depths.Two of the others, Lake Monoun and Lake Nyos, experienced a limnic eruption or 'lake overturn', a catastrophic release of suffocating carbon dioxide probably triggered by landslides.Lake Nyos overturn was particularly lethal, killing nearly two thousand people in the area around the lake.Kivu is 2,000 times bigger than Lake Nyos and also contains dissolved methane as an additional hazard - though concentration of carbon dioxide is much lower than in Lake Nyos. Nearly two million people including the population of Goma live in the vicinity of Lake Kivu and could be in danger from a limnic eruption triggered by one of the nearby volcanoes and the earthquakes associated with them.

How to Reach

By Air

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.Alternatively, it is possible to fly to Kigali -in neighboring Rwanda- by direct flights from Europe (France, Belgium, Germany), then by road to Goma (taxi (70- 100 USD) or collective bus (10 USD).

By Bus

From Kisoro, Uganda, you can take a minibus in Bunagana at the Uganda border.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 fund a Bus in Butembo bus station.They may leave early in the morning.

By Ferries

There are daily ferries from Bukavu via Idjwi Island.There are several companies that offer the 2-5 hour trip. Prices vary from 10 USD to 40 USD.

Key places to visit
Mount Nyiragongo, Virunga National Park, Rwenzori Mountains, Lake Kivu


Places to Visit

Mount Nyiragongo

Is a stratovolcano in the Virunga Mountains associated with the Great Rift Valley.It is located inside Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, about 20 km north of the town of Goma and Lake Kivu and just west of the border with Rwanda.The main crater is about two km wide and usually contains a lava lake.The crater presently has two distinct cooled lava benches within the crater walls one at about 3175m (10,400 ft) and a lower one at about 2975 m (9800 ft).Nyiragongo's lava lake has at times been the most voluminous known lava lake in recent history.The depth of the lava lake varies considerably.A maximum elevation of the lava lake was recorded at about 3250 m (10,700 ft) prior to the January 1977 eruption a lake depth of about 600 m (2000 ft).A recent very low elevation of the lava lake was recorded at about 2700 m (8800 ft).Nyiragongo and nearby Nyamuragira are together responsible for 40% of Africa's historical volcanic eruptions.

Virunga National Park

The national park covers the western shores of Lake Edward, known for its hippopotami depleted by more than 95 percent in 2006 while elsewhere, marshland, grassland plateau and plains dominate the park.The Ruwenzori Mountains lie on the Ugandan border and rise to alpine meadows and a glacier, while Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira are both active volcanoes with substantial associated lava plains.The park is known for its exceptional diversity, containing more bird, mammal and reptile species than any protected area on the African continent. Although mountain gorillas are now extremely rare and listed as one of the most critically endangered species, successful conservation work has helped to secure the remaining populations.Their populations actually increased during the years of political upheaval in the region (1994–2004),but renewed military conflict in the park (October 2008) including the seizing of the park headquarters and expelling of park rangers, poaching, and rampant deforestation for illegal charcoal production once again cast doubt on their future.

Rwenzori Mountains

Is a mountain range of central Africa, often referred to as Mt. Rwenzori, located on the border between Uganda and the DRC, with heights of up to 5,109 m (16,761 ft).The highest Rwenzoris are permanently snow-capped, and they, along with Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya are the only such in Africa.The mountains formed about three million years ago in the late Pliocene as a result of an uplifted block of crystalline rocks such as: gneiss, amphibolite granite and quartzite,"pushed up by tremendous forces originating deep within the earth’s crust".This uplift divided the paleolake Obweruka and created two of the present-day African Great Lakes: Albert and Edward and George on the flanks of the Albertine (western) Rift of the East African Rift, the African part of the Great Rift Valley.

Lake Kivu

Is one of the African Great Lakes.It lies on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, and is in the Albertine (western) Rift, a part of the Great Rift Valley.Lake Kivu empties into the Ruzizi River, which flows southwards into Lake Tanganyika.The name comes from kivu which means "lake" in Bantu language, just like the words tanganyika or nyanza.Native fish include species of Barbus, Clarias, and Haplochromis, as well as Nile Tilapia.Limnothrissa miodon, one of two species known as the Tanganyika sardine, was introduced in 1959 and formed the basis of a new pelagic zone fishery.In the early 1990s, the number of fishers on the lake was 6,563, of which 3,027 were associated with the pelagic fishery and 3,536 with the traditional fishery.Widespread armed conflict in the surrounding region from the mid-1990s resulted in a decline in the fisheries harvest.

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