Kahuzi Biega National Park
Kahuzi Biega national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo was established and gazetted in 1970 with the major aim of conserving the endangered eastern lowland gorillas in the wild. Eastern lowland gorillas are known to be the largest gorilla species of the four gorilla species in the world. The park covers 6,000 square km of land. The park obtained its name from the two mountains bordering it. That is Mount Biega which is 2,790m and mount Kahuzi which is 3308m above the sea level. Kahuzi Biega national park has a variety of fauna and flora ranging from vegetation and animals thus creating a home for a variety wildlife. In 1980, Kahuzi Biega National Park was declared a UNESCO world heritage
Attractions in Kahuzi Biega National park range from different fauna and flora
- Kahuzi Biega has a beautiful flora of which the western lowland side of the park is covered by the dense equatorial rainforests and the eastern side comprises of six primary vegetation which includes; the high altitude rain forest, swamp forest, swamp and peat bog, Bamboo forest, Mountain Rain forest, and subalpine heather all situated on a hilly section of the park.
- The fauna/Wildlife of Kahuzi Biega national park include primates, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and much more wildlife
- The major primate and the major attraction of the park is the eastern lowland Gorillas thus making Gorilla trekking the major activity carried out at the park
- Apart from gorillas, there are other primates in the park such as eastern chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, and other primates
- Several mammals also reside in the park including Otters, forest elephants which is the biggest animal in the park, Bush babies and many more.
- The park is home to over 350 bird species including the Rwenzori Turaco, the sunbirds and many more which are seen during birding
Activities carried out in Kahuzi Biega
Eastern Lowland Gorilla trekking: Trekking these largest gorilla species is a very rewarding activity as it allows visitors to spend a full hour in the presence of these endangered primates interacting and learning about their behaviors including the feeding habits. Currently, there are 5 habituated Gorilla families in Kahuzi – Biega National Park. Eastern Lowland Gorilla trekking in the Democratic Republic of Congo starts early in the morning with a briefing at the head offices and then the visitors together with the game rangers trek into the rain forest in search of the wandering gorillas. Once a certain habituated family is spotted, the maximum time given to the visitor in their presence is just one hour.
During the Gorilla trekking in the forest, keep your eyes open as you will sight out other animals such as eastern chimpanzee, bongo antelopes, bush elephants, otters, duikers, and much more wildlife.
The first Gorilla subspecies to be visited by the tourists is the eastern lowland gorillas in the 1970s and by that time only two families were habituated and used to human being but currently, there are five habituated gorilla families ready for trekking
A gorilla trekking permit in the Democratic Republic of Congo currently costs $400 making it the cheapest permit in East Africa compared to a Ugandan mountain gorilla trekking permit which goes for $600 and a Rwandan gorilla permit at $1500.
The income generated from gorillas is used to develop the communities around the park and conserving the park. Gorilla trekking can be done at any time of the year. However, the best trekking period is during the dry season when the park is a bit dry and less thick for easy penetration during trekking. That is the month of January, may, June, July, august, November and December
Note: Some visitors can also opt for a full day gorilla habituation where they are in position to stay with the endangered gorillas together with the rangers training the half habituated gorilla families how to get used to human being for easy trekking. This experience can be achieved by Visit Uganda for mountain Gorillas habituation.
What to prepare for the Gorilla Trekking in Kahuzi Biega national park
Remember to prepare yourself in advance for the gorilla trekking safari so as to enjoy the once in a life experience.
- First and for most book your trekking permit in time either directly from the wildlife authority or use a trusted tour company like Achieve Global safaris to organize for you a full trip. However, the gorilla permit in conga can also be obtained on the last minute from the park headquarters.
- Pack your good hiking boots and nice clothes having in mind that in tropical rain forest it can rain at any time so your rain coat shouldn’t miss out in your back pack
- Pack enough snacks to eat during trekking
- Enough bottled drinking water which is always provided by the tour company
- And finally keep in mind that you cannot enter into Congo without a Congo Visa which you have to apply for at least 3 days in advance before you travel and is obtained at the immigration office on arrival.
Rules and regulations for Gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega National Park
Just like mountain Gorilla trekking, eastern lowland Gorilla trekking has the same trekking rules and regulations which must be observed during gorilla trekking as explained below;
- Only people aged 15 years and above are allowed to trek the endangered gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park
- Trekkers are supposed to keep a distance of 7m between them and the gorillas to avoid transferring the human diseases to the gorillas since they share almost the same DNA with humans
- No using flashlight while taking photographs of the gorillas in their natural habitat
Nature walk: Visitors are allowed to trail on foot inside the park to watch the nature all that is in it at a close. The nature of Kahuzi Biega National Park offers several sightings of nature as many animals, birds and butterflies are seen roaming the park in search of food. Animals seen during nature walks include several monkey species, baboons, buffalos, elephants, antelopes, and several birds and butterfly species without forgetting the beautiful sceneries of the park. The park also harbors some hunters which are also known as carnivores since they hunt their fellow animals and eat them. The most common hunter in Kahuzi Biega national park is the leopard. However, there are other cats that move in the night to hunt for their food well known as the nocturnal mammals. These nocturnal mammals are normally seen during night hours as they come out of their hideouts to get what to feed on.
Birding: Kahuzi Biega National Park is home to several bird species including the endemic rift species and the natives of the park which are always seen during birding. The nature of the park makes it suitable for several bird species to reside Birding in Kahuzi Biega national park covered with the tropical rain forests, swamps, and savanna grassland creates a good environment of the bird lovers to visit the park and watch several rare bird species alongside gorilla trekking and nature walks. Several bird species seen during birding include the Yellow-crested helmet shrike, Rwenzori turaco, the woodpeckers, trogon, the sunbirds and other several birds as they are seen nesting and singing in the Tropical rain forest.
Hiking: Hiking mt. Kahuzi in Kahuzi Biega National park takes atrial through the bamboo forest and proceeds to the top of the dormant volcanic mountain which offers a breath taking a view of the entire park covered with the beautiful vegetation including Lake kivu and the communities around the Bukavu area from the top of the mountain.
“Kahuzi Biega national park is the only place where visitors can see the endangered eastern lowland gorillas in their natural habitat in the whole world alongside enjoying the pleasure of the green vegetation in the wilderness”.