Goma is the gateway to Virunga National Park and the history of the town is as dramatic as the setting. Whilst it is an important post for many NGO staff in the area - a result of the region's turbulent past, it is most famous for being a victim of Mount Nyiragongo's eruption in 2002. This destroyed much of the town centre and the effects can still be seen today.
Not surprisingly, the town is built from the black volcanic rock which surrounds the area, offering a startling contrast with the lush green hillsides, fed by the rich volcanic soil, and the distant volcanoes. Sitting on Lake Kivu itself and with Nyiragongo looming over it to the north, the town has a feel and atmosphere all of its own.
Look closely and you will see some of the older single-storey buildings are in fact the top level of what were once two-storey houses - the bottom storeys are buried under the lava flow which cut through town. The people are, of course, the most colourful aspect of the town - perhaps unsurprisingly full of defiant energy.