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Old Mar 22, 15, 7:11 am
Moderator: Trip Reports
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Dubai
Posts: 3,059
Day 3.

An aerial photo of Mt. Nyiragongo (by MONUSCO/Neil Wetmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0). Today's plan was to trek to the top of the volcano and spend the night camping on the crater edge.

After breakfast again at the hotel, I packed my provisions I had bought yesterday for the overnight trip.

On the road again with David to Mt. Nyiragongo. These wooden bikes were quite common in Goma, and even had a golden statue of one in the middle of one of the city roundabouts.

At the headquarters at the base of Mt. Nyiragongo. After being off limits for tourists for several years due to various fighting, climbing of Mt. Nyiragongo had reopened at the end of last year.

The group of people I had met the previous day during the gorilla trekking were planning to climb Mt. Nyiragongo today too. But at the end of the gorilla trek they were seriously pooped, and were having second thoughts about climbing to the top of the 3470 m (11382 ft) tall volcano. Hence after they no-showed, it was just me and a Canadian couple. After a safety briefing (in French again, luckily the Canadians translated for me) we headed off for the ~5 hour trek up the volcano.

At our first rest stop, with our three porters far right, and our rangers/guides, Jean-Phil and Cyril in the middle.

After venturing through the jungle on the lower slopes, the track then became loose volcanic rubble. Not too hard to climb up but you had to be sure you had a solid footing.

Stopping at the second rest stop next to some solidified lava flow.

And some local flora.

Meeting with some other rangers on the climb up. The Canadian girl, Avery, was working in Goma for UNESCO, and had been brought up in various African countries as her parents were diplomats.

Stopping for lunch at about 1pm. Tuna, cheese and peanut butter sandwiches, which were actually pretty tasty!

And looking up to the cloud covered peak.

Wild blackberries, which were quite delicious.

The vegetation got sparser and less dense as we gained altitude.

Making the scramble up the last few ~100 metres.

After 5 tough hours we finally made it!!! The elevation at the headquarters where we started was 1,994 metres so we climbed almost 1,500 vertical metres to reach the top of 3470 m (11382 ft) tall Mt. Nyiragongo.

My cabin for the night with my well travelled sleeping bag (has now slept in it in 9 countries). The rope at the bottom leads to...

... the abseil down to the toilet!!!

Peering over the edge into the volcano crater. In 2007 a Chinese lady got a little too close and perished when she slipped and fell in.

And a panoramic shot to show how close we were camping to the crater edge.

At about 5pm we had some VIP visitors from the Howard G. Buffett foundation who 'cheated' and skipped the climb by landing their helicopter just below the top and scrambled up the last ~200 metres.

A portrait shot of a very photogenic Cyril.

As the sun started to dip below the horizon and the light started to dim, the glorious colours of the red hot lava and blue light at dusk started to appear.

The lava lake is ~190 metres (~600 ft) across, and is the largest lava lake in the world.

It was so mesmorising to watch the lava lake bubble and erupt away, and I spent a good hour just watching and gazing at the awesome spectacle.

I had my sausages and bread for dinner. Our rangers also cooked us up some goat stew and casava which was very tasty too.

The moon rising above glowing steam over the crater edge.

I went to bed at about 9pm but got up at 2am when the clouds had cleared and got an amazing view of the starry sky over Goma.

And the volcano steam reflecting the amazing glowing red from the lava lake.

Day 4.

I was up again just before dawn to get one last look at the volcano crater.

And looking east to the summit of Mt. Karisimbi. The puff of steam coming from the bottom right is where the toliet used to be, but it collapsed into the hole and is now a steaming vent on the side of the crater.

Looking down the mountain side to the smaller crater. This crater is where lava collected during the 2002 eruption before breaching and running down to Goma. Due to the mineral content of the lava, the speed of the lava reached up to 60 kph (versus walking speed for lava in places like Hawaii).

Getting ready for the hike back down after a quick breakfast of muesli bars.

Must have taken quite a bit of skill to land a helicopter here!

Making our descent.

Blue skies as we made our way down.

A chameleon we spotted!

And back down into the jungle. The climb down took us just over 3 hours.

Getting a photo with Jean-Phil and Cyril after a successful descent.

David was waiting for me and we drove back into Goma to pick up my stuff at the hotel.

We then went back to the DRC/Rwanda border.

Where I met up with Safari again for the drive back to Kigali.

We stopped in Ruhengeri again at the Hotel Muhabura, famous for being where Dian Fossey (of 'Gorillas in the Mist' fame) stayed when she was in town.

And had some tasty pork chops for lunch.

We arrived back in Kigali just after 4pm.

My hotel for my one night stay in Kigali, the Hôtel des Mille Collines (Hotel Rwanda).

I checked into my room and had a nice hot shower. Just what the doctor ordered after three days of some serious trekking!

View from the top floor over the hotel pool and the city of Kigali.

A memorial to the hotel staff that were killed during the 1994 genocide. Over a thousand refugees were sheltered at the hotel during the genocide.

After a bit of a rest, I went to the pool side bar for a drink.

And had the Nile perch for dinner.

And treated myself to some chocolate pudding for dessert after all the exercise after the past few days.

Day 5.

I got up at 7:30am and went for a run in Kigali. My legs were still stiff after the trekking and the hilly streets of Kigali were very unforgiving too!

I then had a decent breakfast at the hotel.

At about 10am I caught up with my driver I had organised for the day.

The plan was to drive south of Kigali to the Genocide Memorials at Nyamata and Ntarama.

When violence broke out during the 1994 genocide began, many Tutsi's took refuge in churches. This time however, the church did not save them from being slaughtered, with ~5,000 people being murdered at Ntarama.

Ntarama Church has now been preserved as a small memorial.



With the Tutsi's sheltering inside the church, sledge hammers were used to punch holes to gain access.

Clothing from the many victims.

Where the brick wall was broken to throw in grenades.

It was a very sombre and moving experience.

We then drove on to Nyamata, another church where Tutsi's attempted to shelter.

Blood spatters and bullet holes were visible on the walls and roof.

After a very moving morning, we headed back to Kigali and stopped at an Indian restaurant for lunch.

After lunch, I went to the Kigali Genocide Museum.

The museum was very educational, and detailed how previously the separation between minority Tutsi's and majority Hutu's used to be largely socio-economic. It wasn't until the Belgian colonists arrived and started categorising the population based on nose length and how 'european' they looked etc. (on the belief that 'european' looking Africans would be better able to govern) that the differences became engrained as being based on race/ethnicity.

One of the beautiful stained glass windows at the museum.

Photo's of some of the genocide victims. Several days after the genocide started, the UN security council met to discuss the request by Roméo Dallaire, the force commander of UNAMIR, for reinforcements. New Zealand, who held the UN Security Council presidency at the time, was the only country that supported this reinforcement.

A memorial outside the museum in the Rwandan language of Kinyarwanda, with the importance of educating tomorrows generation and avoiding a repeat of the past.

The remains of ~250,000 Rwandans are interred on the grounds of the Kigali Genocide Memorial. The UN Security Council later accepted responsibility for failing to stop the genocide.

Back at Kigali International for the flight back to DXB.

And about to board the RwandAir 737-800 for the trip back home after an amazing trip to DR Congo and Rwanda!

Last edited by DanielW; Mar 22, 15 at 7:20 am
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