On paper travelling from Goma to Nkuba is relatively straightforward: you take the UN helicopter to Walikale and then drive two hours to Nkuba (as explained in our previous post). In reality, things didn’t go quite as planned.
Friday, December 11
- 10:30 Half an hour before taking off and after having checked in 100 kilos of luggage, our flight to the town of Walikale is cancelled for unknown reasons.
- 16:00 The UN informs us the next flight is Monday, we prepare for a weekend in Goma.
- 21:00 Urbain (the Congo Program Director who will accompany us to Nkuba) calls us; the flight has been rescheduled to tomorrow, Saturday in the morning.
Saturday, December 12
- 9:40 We arrive at an empty terminal, but eventually find someone to do the check-in.
- 12:15 After half an hour delay, we can board the helicopter!
- 13:20 We land on the football pitch of Walikale and are welcomed by a stadium full of people. When unloading the helicopter we notice that the field work material we planned to bring to Nkuba was not taken…
- 13:30 We get a message from the Nkuba DFGF base; the road between Walikale and Nkuba is in such a bad condition that the car can’t make it through. Urbain comes up with a plan; look for a car that will take us as far as possible and rent moto taxis to pass the parts where cars can’t go, while the car from Nkuba waits for us on the other side. Only problem: where do we find an available car in Walikale?
- 14:00 We start looking for a car.
- 16:00 After several calls we find an available Land Cruiser which belongs to the USAID organization base of Walikale.
- 16:02 After 100 meters on the road, the car comes to a stand still. The tank is empty. The driver gets out and starts walking on the road in search for fuel.
- 17:00 The driver fills up the car and bystanders CPR the car back to life. On the road at last!
- 17:45 We reach the impracticable part of the road. We load our luggage on local moto taxis and while we hear the first thunder rumbling far away above the forest, we jump on the bikes.
- 18h30: night has fallen when we reach the Dian Fossey car. The bikes drove us of over roughly 15km of muddy roads full of holes.
- 19:30 We reach the Nkuba Conservation Area where we are greeted with warm food. We made it!