As we traversed between Kisangani, and Walikale, approximately 600 miles. In 8 hrs of driving, there was nothing but jungle surrounding us. As you can imagine, it was an incredibly beautiful drive.
As we drive along this beautiful road, at some point I start to notice the complete lack of traffic. We literally drive hours at a time without passing a car. Only in the outback of Australia have I ever seen so little traffic. At certain stretches, there are plenty of people, walking along the road with their wares and harvests. But there are no cars. None.
On the way there, we pass one UN convoy, and little else. There are no trucks hauling goods, no buses or mini-vans. Nada. On the way back, we pass one bus. On other roads in Congo I had noticed the lack of vehicles, but had chucked it up to horrible roads. And yet, with the most beautiful road around, there was still nothing.
This picture gives you a good sense of what the road did look like.Flying out of Kisangani, back to Goma, it was even more awe inspiring from the air. As we lifted off it was clearly that the entire city was tightly surrounded by trees. The first stretch had chunks taken out here and there, still relatively small for the size of the forest.
Within a couple of minutes there was truly nothing but forest. No marks of civilization whatsoever. As we gained in elevation, the forest took on the feel of a massive head of broccoli, the texture of the forest creating ridges. I watch for as long as I could before we were too high in altitude and the clouds took over the forest.
Coming out of the clouds nearly two hours later, still nothing but forest. Solid, massive forest. A reminder of why the Congo River Basin is still one of the earth’s best defenses to climate change.
Eventually scars of humanity appear on the landscape. We are coming closer to so called, civilization.
Lake Kivu appears, brilliant and shining like a sapphire. We head up the lake towards Goma, and the lake feels impossibly long. It keeps on and on, taking on the appearance of an ocean, at times, rather than a lake.
Alas Goma appears in the distance. The wheels on the ancient Russian airliner drop down. The bizarre gingerbread houses of Goma appear below; their multiple eves and columns supposedly representing some kind of western architecture that actually doesn’t exist in the west. Then markets, and garbage mounds, and bam, we are on the tarmac landing into Goma’s International Airport.
What a flight. Certainly one I will remember for years to come.