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Published: August 8th 2006
Camping just two meters from the volcano crater.
As promissed in many e-mails, we did what no one sane would ever recomend. During election time in the Democratic Republic of Congo (first after 30 years) we went to make a little visit to the country. Of course the east side where all the rebel armies are. And to add a little more to the visit we also climbed the active Nyiragongo volcano, the one that destroyed a whole city in 2002 with its water like fluid lava.
After passing the Congo border control (very pleasant staff as oposite that what we were expecting), we where told to search for the DGM office to make a little piece of paper that would allow us to come back to Rwanda without having to make an extra visa (which for us Brasilians cost 60 US$). This was our first experience of country corruption, instead of making the paper as expected they started to say that we would have to pay each one 100 US$ for a permission to visit the city and the volcano. Otherwise we would get in trouble by the military. Luckly we where able to talk our way out.
Goma, the city we stayed, is base of
Mzungos planing the trip.
many of the UN operations. So the easier things to see over there is dried lava(from 2002 eruption) and UN bases.
In the same day we arrived we went to the National Park and hiked up the volcano. Tough hike, 5 hours of steep up hill hiking. But the reward of seing inside the volcano crater really worth any effort. Just when we arrived (at night already) the smoke cleared for 5 minutes and we were able to see the lava pool spraying high stream of lava. We pitched our tents just 2 metters of the volcano crater. Thanks to the constant wind, we could stay there free of the volcano toxic gases.
Next day was really cloudy, but just before hiking down the wind gave us a gift of clearing again the gases from the volcano so we could once again see the lava pool, but now during the day. The pool is very deep into the crater, more than one kilometer below the border level, but the noise of the lava explosions inside the volcano make it looks really close.
Of course, as Congo speak french and we are good french students, we had a
Fabian, Claudio and our guide climbing up though the dry lava river.
nice wine and cheese dinner at the top of the volcano. Tough was to carry it up... hehehe.
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