Emmanuel Munganga Rufubya is an excellent and economic local guide. I first met him across the border in Rwanda, Hi literally walked me across the border and helped me avoid being strip searched and/or having all my examined item by item by the DRC authorities. Other people were not that lucky. During my time in Goma, Emmanuel organised my transport to and from my hotel as well as my Gorilla permit. He also organised my transport to the Gorillas and back. The best part of Goma was when he organised 2 motorcycles for a full day out in all of Goma. Our drivers were awesome and we had a great time. Emmanuel even dealt with both times we were stopped by the Police and only one bribe of $11 was paid to one of these corrupt bastards. My great guide took me from the shores of Lake Kivu to the main market area of Goma. He always seem to know when to tell me to put away the camera. The first Policeman never even saw the camera - an instant 'fine'. I was even able to get photos of the airport and UN base.
Emmanuel took me to local markets and explained everything in great detail. I can only highly recommend his services. I was on a budget and did not pay him that much. You can contact him and agree a price. Unfortunately Goma is not ready for tourists. With roving Police, Militias and even insurgent Guerilla gangs, you need a good guide here.
I found Emmanuel and his drivers to be a real joy to go and explore the area with. I felt safe in their hands from driving to security. I also saw and experienced the full range of sights and aspects of daily Goma life. Play it safe and smart and hire Emmanuel.
-Climb Mount Nyiragongo, most dangerous active volcano in Africa
-See highland gorillas in Virunga National Park
-Jetski/swim/ride boat on Lake Kivu
-Watch soccer match
-Wednesday happy hours (starting at 9 pm) and Sunday brunches (around 12h30) at Le Chalet
-Enjoy film festival(s) when available
-Shop in Virunga market for fresh produce
-Shop in local markets for fashion
-Play soccer (though tough to find a decent field)
-Play cricket in abandoned field across from Jeffrey Travels
-Go to Gisenyi (next door) and enjoy the beach/scene/restaurant/peace there
Restaurants - just ask around for location:
Petit Bruxelles : Belgian
Salt and Pepper : Chinese/Indian
Hawaii : Lebanese/falafel
Coco Jambo, VIP Hotel, Ihusi Hotel, Hotel Linda : typical western
Nyira : western with a Congolese twist
Le Chalet/Stella : western / pasta
(Le Chalet has happy hour Wednesdays and brunch Sundays)
Taking photos in Goma is a very delicate art. People hate having photos taken of themselves and sometimes even whole areas – even trees. Then you also have corrupt undercover Policemen who would love to see you taking photos, but that is a different warning al together. Not only do local people not like it, they will attempt to smash your camera. Seriously. I found the best way to take photos was to use a guide and 2 motorcycles (with drivers). So I had local knowledge of the dangers of when and where to take photos and a fair warning that some people get very angry about it. Some tourists have even had rocks thrown at them and their cameras. I also thought I would have safety in numbers and safety in speed. As we whizzed around town on the motorcycles I snapped away with most people not noticing me at all or too late. No, I was not trying to be insensitive, but to get lots of local photos so we have more here on VT.
As I was driving past and snapping away I suddenly noticed, too late, that a young angry looking man had seen me from a distance. As I went past him at about 30kmh he raised his open hand to smack the camera out of my hand. Somehow his dirty hand and fingers managed to hit the body of the camera and the back of my hand, but miss the extended lens. I honestly thought after I felt the pain that my camera was smashed and my hand really hurt. When were a safe distance away I looked and found the camera ok, but dirty fingerprints all over my camera and right hand. I was very lucky.
So if you want photos here, you need to be as subtle and quick as you can. Otherwise get prepared to have to socialise a lot to get a few people’s permission to take their photo. And the best option is still either a motorcycle of a car with windows/windscreens that are not cracked and/or very dirty. Trust me the motorcycle is more realistic.