Goma and Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu © Steve Evans
Goma is a city in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, situated on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, right beside the Rwandan border. The city itself has had a tumultuous history and was invaded by rebels as recently as 2012, but has since been liberated. It is neither safe nor prosperous, but Goma does have some dramatically beautiful surroundings.
The city is perilously close to the active Nyiragongo Volcano, the eruptions of which have done enormous damage in the past, and the Virunga National Park, home to the endangered mountain gorillas. Goma has little to commend itself to tourists as a city - the fun nightlife it was once known for has been dampened by conflict - but it is a popular gateway to the wonders of the park and volcanoes, not to mention Lake Kivu.
Lake Kivu is one of the African Great Lakes, and covers a total surface area of 1,040 square miles (2,700 sq km). There are some lovely beaches and plenty of accommodation on the lakeside, particularly near Gisenyi. Sailing and fishing on Lake Kivu is a wonderful experience, with a backdrop of mountains, rainforest, traditional fishing villages and some small islands. Travel in the region is not for the faint of heart but certainly has its rewards.