While many are left to think that DR Congo is only a home to rare mountain gorillas on the other hand, this magical country also boasts as a home to yet another incredible primate species ‘the eastern lowland gorillas’. To catch a glimpse at this unique set of Great Apes, Kahuzi Biega National Park is that one remarkable protected area you need to consider a must to explore while on a gorilla safari in the DR Congo. This park features as one of a few most significant UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world and offers refuge to about 250 endangered Eastern Lowland gorillas. It is named after the two dominant volcanoes ‘Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega’ and it expands to about 6000 square kilometers. In the DRC, the Eastern Lowland gorillas only live in Kahuzi Biega and Maiko National Park and this protected area is run by the Congolese Wildlife Authority and Wildlife Conservation Society after it was re-opened in 2015.
Where to track the Eastern Lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park
Kahuzi Biega National Park features two habituated groups where visitors can track the eastern lowland gorillas. There are also more groups that are undergoing habituation that in a near future will increase the number of habituated families and hence more opportunities for visitors to explore these creatures. For visitor experiences, the gorilla groups to explore in this park include Chimanuka gorilla group that comprises of 19 individuals and secondly, Mugaruka gorilla family that is led by Mugaruka silverback.
Safety and security in Kahuzi Biega National Park
Before embarking on a trip to Kahuzi Biega National Park it is of great significance that you get to know about the safety and security of the area. This park has well-equipped park ranger guides who take care of visitors on gorilla trekking safari or even when you wish to take part in any safari activities within the park. Please check more about Congo’s security at the DRC Embassies or check out for security alerts to keep you up dated on current security situation of DR Congo.
Accommodation in Kahuzi Biega National Park
The available accommodation options in this park include budget, safari lodges, campsites, holiday inns and guest houses most of which are distributed around Kahuzi Biega National Park and Bukavu town. In Bukavu, there is L’Orchids Safari Club, a luxury accommodation which is set along the scenic Lake Kivu, Coco Lodge-a mid-range facility with double bed, Exodus Bukavu hotel for the budget visitors. Camping services are provided at the park headquarters.
Obtaining Congo tourists visa:
If you wish to visit DRC as a tourist, don’t worry much, you can book for your tourist visa in advance in any of DRC Embassies or contact your tour company to assist you. Kahuzi Biega National Park Dictionary contains a number of the best authorized tour companies or operators that can help you package your safari.
Rules and regulations:
You ought to observe the set rules and regulations while you are enjoying your gorilla safari in Kahuzi Biega National Park. The same rules and regulations that are applied for mountain gorilla trekking also apply in eastern lowland gorilla trekking. Most importantly, the only one hour is given to visitors to observe, explore the daily behaviors of these incredible wild creatures as you will also be maintaining a distance of about 5 to 7 meters, only eight visitors are allowed to track one gorilla group each day and your health is also vital if you are planning for safari to Kahuzi Biega National Park. For more information about the rules and regulations or any park related information please check the park Website: Kahuzi Biega. This will also help you book your gorilla permits or find the park tariffs and any assistance for tourist visa applications.
The permits for Eastern Lowland gorilla trekking cost $400 per person. You can as well get a gorilla permit once you visit the park but it is important that you book for your permit in advance to avoid disappointments. The permits include entry fee into the park, the park ranger/guides who will be accompanying visitors during the trek.
What to pack and carry:
This is vital to note that for gorilla trekking or hiking safaris to Kahuzi Biega National Park requires you to pack based on your safari needs. You are advised to come with waterproof hiking boots, garden gloves, light rain jacket, long sleeved shirts or T-shirt, good cameras and extra batteries or lenses, walking stick which you can purchase at the park.
When to visit Kahuzi Biega National Park:
Kahuzi Biega National Park can be visited all the year round but most importantly you need to take note of specific seasons when it comes to gorilla trekking or hiking experiences. In most cases, the wet season tends to affect visitors experiences but still visitors can take a safari to the park and track the gorillas and this happens mostly during the low season in the month of March to May and October to November. During this season, the cost for gorilla permits also reduce and the lodges around the park also can decrease their prices. It is challenging tracking gorillas during the wet season since the habitat can be slippery and muddy and hiking through the terrains becomes a bit hard. However, visitors have been seen traveling during this season and you too can travel and achieve your dreams. During this season, the rain showers can be there but the sun can easily come out and your trek can still continue.
The park also has two dry seasons that you easily travel to track these spectacular creatures. The dry season in Kahuzi Biega National Park is a peak season as well and it is the most preferred season for most visitors who are interested in gorilla tracking. The dry season falls between the month of January and February, and from June to September.
Getting to Kahuzi Biega National Park
This park is 40 kilometers’ drive from Bukavu Town which is about one and half hours’ drive on road. It can be reached by air and water; by air you can fly to Kavumu Airport or Miti, then take your left and keep moving straight till you arrive at the visitor center (Tschivanga). Alternatively, you can fly from Kigali International Airport to Rusizi border or Kamembe Airport then cross to DRC into Bukavu town. If you are interested in using water transport means, you can take a ferry ride from Goma to Bukavu passed Idjwi Island on Lake Kivu. The boat ride takes almost three hours for faster boats and the public boats take about four to five hours. There are charges that you will need to pay, for shared boat; it is between $50 and $70 while the slow boats cost $35.