lowland gorilla in Kahuzi Biega National Park

Kahuzi Biega National Park

Kahuzi Biega National Park is made up of two great extinct volcanoes of Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega.

Mt Kahuzi 3308m is the highest of different volcanic mountains in the Mitumba range. The Mitumba range stretches along the Albertine rift south of Rwanda northwards into the Rwenzori Mountains west of Uganda. Mt Biega 2,790m is an extinct volcano in the same Mitumba Mountain ranges. The Mitumba Mountain ranges lie west of Bukavu town, close to Lake Kivu that forms borderline with Rwanda. Biega were gazetted to a zoological and forest reserve in 1937, later upgraded and merged with Kahuzi into the current national park status 1970s. With 6,000km2 (2,300 sq mi) geographic surface area coverage, Kahuzi Biega stands tall amongst the large single wildlife protected areas on the African continent.

The terrain in Kahuzi Biega National Park is largely flat lowland that slopes gently towards Lake Kivu, though Mitumba Mountain ranges and a series of volcanic mountains are standout natural features. The Kahuzi Biega National Park receives 1800mm (71 in) rainfall and 15 °C temperature on average.

The soils in Virunga massif are volcanic and very fertile for plant and crop growing. The above conditions are the major reasons for thriving of vegetation that varies from rainforests, woodlands, grasslands, dry savannas, swamp and wetland vegetation, open woodland generating into bamboo and alpine vegetation on the summit of the mountains.

The Kahuzi Biega National Park sustains a rich diversity in land features and wildlife species. The park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in1980 because of ecological importance in regulating climatic conditions. Kahuzi Biega National Park is a habitat that shelters a multitude of wildlife species; 1,178 plant, 136 mammals and 349 bird species.

Kahuzi-Biega National Park is a unique habitat with very rare wildlife species; Eastern lowland gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri), Eastern needle-clawed galago, Mclaud’s horseshoe bat, Alexander’s bush squirrel, the Mount Kahuzi climbing mouse, the bongo antelope, Eastern chimpanzee, bush elephant, bush buffaloes and others are some rare resident wildlife species that are facing threat to their existence.

Activities in Kahuzi Biega National Park

Gorilla trekking; Eastern lowland gorillas are largest of all gorillas. A limited number of this gorilla species is hanging on life in the Kahuzi Biega National Park. Two families of Eastern lowland gorillas are habituated and available for travelers in need to visiting and interacting with them. Lowland gorilla trekking into the DR Congo in the Kahuzi Biega is one sure way of wandering into the rainforests and discovering the wild world reserved for those with high adventure adrenalin.

Hiking; The beauty of the Mitumba Mountain range and the iconic steep volcanic mountains is so captivating and inviting to adventure travelers. The travelers with high adventure adrenalin feel challenged and tempted to venture into the wilderness for scenic viewing and discovering what lies underneath. There are trail systems that travelers with resident guides follow to get to the summit of the mountains.

Bird watching safaris; Kahuzi Biega National Park is a rich habitat to 349 bird species. This is a bird watching safari dream destination with high possibilities to spot birds resident in the forest, open grassland, woodland, in the highland or open water, and swamp and wetland vegetation. Kahuzi Biega National Park is the edge of the West African rainforest and close to East Africa savannas. There are high possibilities of spotting unique bird species from both regions. Congo peas fowl, Yellow crested helmet-shrike, Rockefellers, Ruwenzori Turacos, sunbirds and trogons are some birds spotted in the Kahuzi Biega National Park.

Nature walks; Kahuzi Biega National Park offers varied options of breathtaking sceneries and land feature that offer travelers choices of adventure and exploration.  There are options of wandering into the lush grasslands or walking into the rainforests to get more personal and discover the beauty of nature and the wilderness. Some attractions are located off the roads and only accessible on foot. The travelers have a double blessing of body exercise and exploring the natures’ immeasurable beauty.

Camping safaris; The Kahuzi Biega is a destination that blows many travelers’ mind away. There seems to be something to keep every traveler yearning for more. Camping safaris in the heart of the wilderness is a safari activity with a mixture of adventure, discovery and appeal. Travelers just drown in the greenery of Congo wilderness in calm and pleasant weather and live their dream authentic African lifestyle.

Community tours; The indigenous communities around Kahuzi Biega have different ethnic backgrounds, customs, rituals and lifestyles. Taking brief visits to select communities is an easy way of interacting with them, learn about their African roots and lifestyle and sharing in the life experiences. The communities engage travelers through music, songs, dance, storytelling, art, pass time games and other African ways of sharing information.

How to access Kahuzi Biega National Park

Travelers from Rwanda and Uganda get to Bukavu town average 30km from the border post for a night. Kahuzi Biega National Park head office is roughly 230 kilometers away by road; 3-4 hours drive. There is an airfield at Kavumu airstrip for charted light aircraft for travelers in need of exploring Kahuzi Biega but have limited or prefer not to travel by road.  Invest some time in making inquiries before travel to reconfirm your booking for the safari. This is very appropriate to guarantee best service, safe travel and to avoid disappointment with protocol.

Eastern Lowland Gorilla Trekking:

A permit for East Lowland Gorilla trekking goes for 400 USD as compared to the 600 USD of the Uganda mountain gorilla trekking and the 1500 USD of the Rwanda gorilla trek.

Eastern Lowland Gorilla trekking can be done throughout the year though it is advisable to visit for the trek in the drier months that is May to August then November to Jan as that way the ground is a bit drier and movement isn’t as hard as it would be on rained on-mushy grounds.

Please remember this is a forested area so rain is expected anytime of the year so ensure to dress up appropriately for your trek. The appropriate dress for Eastern Lowland Gorilla trekking is hiking boots, raincoat, light cotton clothing is recommended. T-Shirts, short and long cotton trousers (or jeans), long sleeved shirts or sweaters (it can be cold in the morning & evening).

Eastern Lowland Gorilla trekking is cheaper than visiting the mountain gorillas which makes it a great option for travelers who are looking for a lifetime experience but a pocket friendly one.

Those visiting Kahuzi Biega only in Congo are advised to cross from Kigali through the Ruzizi border as it is closer to the park than the Gisenyi side.

Kahuzi Biega is more famous than Maiko National Park as it is considered a better destination for the ideal lowland gorilla trek as there are more gorilla families to visit in this sector.

One would need a minimum of 3 days to do this Eastern Lowland Gorilla Trekking as that is the standard package offered to visitors by the park.

These Eastern lowland gorillas are the largest of the gorillas. On encounter with the gorillas on the trek, visitors are allowed 1 hour to enjoy the mighty creatures. The continuous loss of the logging in the forest and poaching of these animals is reducing the population of this already critically endangered species. Book your lowland gorilla trek already with us and live your dream.

Other animals of Kahuzi Biega National Park Congo.

However much the main attractions of Kahuzi Biega National Park are the Eastern lowland gorillas, this park has many more wild animals living within its vicinity that can attract and excite visitors for example the African Forest Elephant, Baboons and Monkeys, Buffaloes and golden monkeys can also be found in this park as well as Antelopes. There are a number of predators in this park. This can be your one stop destination when visiting Congo.

The African Forest Elephant, commonly known as Loxodonta cyclotis is a forest dwelling animal and is not a rare encounter in the Congo Basin. African forest elephants are estimated to have a population of a third of the elephant population with a decline in their population due to the poaching threats for their ivory and bush meat but have not had much study carried out on them because of their habitat being thick and dense forests.

How to differ the savannah elephant with the forest elephant is the latter has a lower body weight (smaller) and smaller and rounded ears. These majorly feed on fruit, leaves, twigs, roots branches basically are herbivores. Interestingly, these forest elephants of Kahuzi Biega take up both the low altitude and highland areas of the park. They stay in small groups of about 10 individuals and this would be a magical encounter if met while on your gorilla trek. They are also nocturnal animals.

The several predators/ carnivores in Kahuzi Biega are the leopard (the most outstanding one), you may also encounter one other cat known as the golden cat in this forest! Fascinating isn’t it? These golden cats are majorly nocturnal so your chance of seeing them at night is higher compared to day time.

The type of buffaloes found here are the forest buffaloes aka the Dwarf Buffalo. These are different from the savannah buffaloes in terms of their color as these forest buffaloes have a red to tobacco color texture making them easy to tell apart.

The antelopes found here in Kahuzi Biega National Park include the bongo, duiker and others that are distributed all over the park but are mainly hunted for game meat though it is hard to find them due to the denseness of the forests.

The monkey species in this park are quite many for example the Black and white colobus monkeys, Mangabey and blue monkeys to mention but a few. These are herbivores and stay in the moderate or lowland areas of the park.

One can get to learn some facts about Kahuzi Biega.

Accomodation at Kahuzi Biega National Park

Kahuzi Biega National Park in Congo provides a wide range of accommodation facilities with many of these located in Bukavu. Some of the accommodation facilities include;