Thursday, June 21, 2007

Josh Vs. the Volcano

It's been an interesting couple of days since the last post. In Kigali we visited the actual hotel from Hotel Rwanda, there was no plaque or exhibit or anything...we had to ask one of the waiters if it was the real hotel and he assured us it was.  After that we tried to go to the Genocide Memorial but didn't know what time it closed (4pm) and we got there right as it closed. 
Two days ago we took a bus from Kigali to Gisenyi.  On the bus we met someone who spoke pretty good english, Emmanuel.  He worked at reception at one of the hotels in town and volunteered to show us around town.  Seemed like a nice guy, and he took us around for a couple hours...seemed to know every other person in town, so he was a good guy to know. 
The reason we came to Gisenyi was one for Lake Kivu, which is nice, but I wanted to go into Goma, Congo to hike up the Nyiragogo volcano.  It is an active volcano that you can climp to the top and look into a huge boiling lava lake.  I asked Emmanuel how to go, and he introduced me to his cousin whose husband is in the Congo army, she wanted to send me with her brother as a bodyguard just to go look at the volcano...I knew there was a way to go up and camp out at the top, so she finally found me a tour agency that would take me up. 
I didn't write on here about my plan to go to Congo because I was afraid my parents would flip out.  So I booked the hike and crossed the border yesterday.  I was in a group with an American family who were much more prepared with food, walking sticks, and warm clothing than I was (i had a fleece, sleeping bag, a tube of pringles, and some muffins for an overnight hike...they didn't tell me they didn't provide food until that morning).  The hike was much more difficult than expected, 5hrs, 4 of them almost straight up.  The peak was 2300 meters and I think we hiked around 2000 (~6000ft) in the 5 hours.  We had a ranger with us who was packing an AK-47 so I wasn't too worried about safety, also had 5 porters carrying food, wood, and our tents. 
When night fell we went from our campsite to the peak to see the red glowing lava lake at was one of the most incredible things I've ever seen.  Looking with my binoculars I could see the lava bubbling and frothing on the suface...lots of little mini-eruptions.  I took a lot of beautiful pictures that i'll post on here when I'm able...but the pictures just don't do it justice.  From about 500ft up I could feel the heat on my face.  There was a huge plume of gas that from below glowed...really stunning.
The whole trip cost $230, including the visa ($30) and park fee ($100), it was priceless though. 
Tomorrow we're trying to book a bus to Kibuye, Rwanda...another city on the lake.  From there down to the Southwest and into the Nyungwe forest national park. 


Post a Comment

<< Home