Kahuzi Biega National Park

Kahuzi Biega National Park is one of the biggest protected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo located in Bukavu town and is located on the western bank of Lake Kivu. The park is one of the few safari destinations that harbors the Eastern Lowland Gorillas making it a top safari destination for Eastern Lowland Gorilla Trekking.  The park is composed of dormant volcanoes namely, Mount Kahuzi & Mount Biega from which the name Kahuzi Biega is derived.

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KAHUZI BIEGA NATIONAL PARK-CONGO SAFARIS.

Kahuzi Biega National Park was first established in 1970 and spans over a radius of approximately 6000 square kilometers making it one of the largest national parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The national park is the number one destination for lowland gorilla trekking safaris in Congo.

Trekking lowland gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega national park was first done in 1973 and in 1975, the national park was extended from 600 to 6,000 square kilometers. The national park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980; and in 1997, it was listed as a World Heritage Site in danger which forced the government of Congo and other conservation organizations to work together towards the conservation of most wildlife animals especially the eastern lowland gorillas.

The national park is located in an important Endemic Bird Area for birds identified by Birdlife International. Kahuzi-Biega national park has a record of about 349 species of birds including 42 endemic species.

The park is mainly composed of swamp and bog vegetation, marshland and riparian forests on hydromorphic ground at all altitudes. Much of the forest in Kahuzi-Biega national park is characterized by continuous vegetation from the summit of the mountains to the lowland regions. A corridor connects the highland section of the national park to the lowland section of the park.

Geography of the national park.

Kahuzi Biega national park lies west of Bukavu town in the southern province of Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A small part of the national park is found in Mitumba Mountain range within the Albertine Rift Valley while a larger part of the national park is situated in the lowland terrain.

The national park derives its name from two dormant volcanoes namely Kahuzi and Biega which stand at 3,308 meters above sea level and 2,790 meters respectively. The park receives an average annual rainfall of 1,800 mm with temperatures ranging between 18 degrees Celsius and 10.4 degrees Celsius.

Eastern Lowland Gorilla Trekking in Congo.

Kahuzi-Biega national park is the only national park in Congo where visitors have the opportunity to track the famous eastern lowland gorillas in their natural habitat. It also has the highest population of eastern lowland gorillas, consisting of about 250 individuals. The species, which is also known as Grauer’s gorilla, is the largest of the four gorilla subspecies which include Mountain gorillas, western lowland gorillas, eastern lowland gorillas and the cross river gorilla.

The eastern lowland gorilla mainly feeds on fruit, bamboo shoots and other herbaceous materials. A majority of the lowland gorillas in the park have been habituated which means that they are quite comfortable being in the presence people.

Eastern lowland gorilla trekking in Kahuzi-Biega national park costs USD 400 per person for a gorilla permit. Trekking usually begins early mornings at 7am with a briefing. Trekkers are then placed in groups consisting of a maximum of 8 members.

Trekking eastern lowland gorillas in the park can take between 4 to 6 hours or more depending on the location of the gorillas in the forest. Sometimes eastern lowland gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega can take even longer hours especially when the gorillas have moved deep into the forest in search for food, which tends to make tracking difficult for visitors especially if you are not in perfect physical and mental conditions.

Other Activities Offered in Kahuzi-Biega National Park.

Apart from trekking lowland gorillas, the park also offers visitors other activities such as;

Chimpanzee Habituation at Lwiro Sanctuary:

For just US$ 40 dollars per person, tourists in Kahuzi-Biega national park have an opportunity to see habituated Chimpanzees at the Lwiro Sanctuary. Tourists who visit the primate rehabilitation center are taken through its history and conservation works at the center.

Camping Safaris in Kahuzi-Biega National Park:

Camping safaris in Kahuzi-Biega national park are one of a kind. Campers get to enjoy spending quality and quite time with nature. Get an opportunity to wake up to the blissful sights and sounds of birds whistling, chipping and singing in the morning as the sun rises above the horizons. Tourists who love to be amidst nature and wish to explore the tropical forests in the national park can pay for camping activities which cost USD 50 dollars per person per day and is inclusive of food and a park guide. However, tourists who wish to camp in the park must bring along their own tent and sleeping bag, or hire them from the park at a cost of USD 5 dollars per person per night, for each.

Community/Cultural Tours:

Community/ Cultural tours in Kahuzi- Biega national park offer visitors an opportunity to mingle with locals living in communities near the national park. Cultural encounters in the park are a great way for visitors to learn more about the different ethnic cultures in Congo and how the local people get to spend the day-to-day lives. Watch dance and singing performances from local dance troupes, put your creativity to the test by making local arts and crafts like baskets, beads, necklaces, earrings, and clothes using locally sourced materials such as recycled paper, sisal, papyrus and Kinteges. Visitors also have an opportunity to learn how to cook traditional Congolese delicacies and share a meal with a local family.

Bird Watching:

Visitors who love watching birds will find Kahuzi-Biega national park in Congo an ideal spot to partake in birding activities since the park is home to over 349 species of birds. Tourists on a bird watching safari in the national park, have high chances of spotting bird species like; the Congo pea fowl, Ruwenzori Turaco and the trogons among others.

Hiking Mountains Kahuzi and Biega:

The Mitumba Mountain ranges provide the iconic spot for hiking adventure safaris for any tourist visiting the national park. Visitors can hike through the forest vegetation and explore the beautiful scenery and wildlife of the park. Tourists on holiday in the park can also hike to the Kibatu waterfalls at a price of USD 25 dollars per person, while hiking the mountain ascents of Kahuzi or Biega will cost US$ 100 dollars per person.

Boat cruise on Lake Kivu:

Tourists visiting the park can opt to go on a boat cruise on Lake Kivu which is shared by Congo and Rwanda. This activity costs US$ 50 dollars per person and is best done after trekking gorillas in the national park.

Accommodation in Kahuzi- Biega National Park.

There are a few accommodation facilities situated within and around Kahuzi-Biega national park and most of these facilities offer visitors budget, mid-range and luxury services which have been tailored to suite your personal tastes and preferences. Accommodation options within and around the national park include; Mount Kahuzi Hotel, Hotel Begonias, Lodge Coco, Orchids Safari Club, Lakeside Hotel Bukavu and Hotel Exodus Bukavu among others.

Security in Kahuzi-Biega National Park.

The Democratic republic of Congo is known to be one of the politically unstable regions on the African Continent. However, unlike most areas of the country, the eastern province of the DR Congo is quite safe. Security in Kahuzi-Biega national park is guaranteed for tourists visiting the national park. However, visitors are also advised to continuously stay up to date with the political situation in the park and in Congo at large. Never go on a self-game drive in the national park because it is quite risky.

How to Get to Kahuzi Biega National Park

Most tours to Kahuzi-Biega national park start from Rwanda with pick-ups in Kigali city or Cyangugu town. Other tourists may also prefer to fly into Goma International Airport where you will find our company guide waiting for you. It takes about 6-7 hours to drive from Kigali City to Kamembe in Cyangugu town via the Rusizi I road. After crossing the borders at Goma and Bukavu, travelers will have to drive for about 1½ hours to get to the national park.

Alternatively, visitors can choose to board a flight from Kigali Airport and land in Goma Airport, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is a very convenient mode of transport to the DRC. Once in Goma, travelers can drive 230km to the national park.

Kahuzi Biega National Park in eastern Congo is located 30 Kms from Bukavu Town and it takes one and Half Drive to enter into the national park and its can be accessed by road and by air however travelers have to understand that from kavumu airport and at Miti, take left and keep going straight until you reach the visitor centre.

What to Bring on Gorilla Trekking

The enjoyment of the amazing eastern lowland gorilla trekking experience in Kahuzi-Biega National Park in DR Congo starts with the packing list which includes the right clothes to wear such as, long sleeved trousers and shirts with dull clothes that can easily blend in with the forest environment, a hat/cap, water bottle, packed snacks and lunch, good hiking boots, sun screen and insect repellent cream, your gorilla permit, camera and extra batteries to mention but a few.

Unique Wildlife Found in Kahuzi-Biega National Park.

Some of the unique wildlife animals found in Kahuzi-Biega national park include; the Eastern lowland gorillas, Eastern chimpanzees, the Eastern needle-clawed galago, the Bongo antelope, Alexander’s bush squirrel, Maclaud’s horseshoe bat, bush elephant, bush buffalo and the rare Dwarf Buffalo which can easily be identified by its reddish, tobacco color skin texture which also makes them stand out from the bush buffalo.

Best Time to Visit Kahuzi-Biega National Park.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has two rainy seasons with the short season staring from October to November while the long rainy season beings from mid-March to end of May. The rainy season in Congo happens to be the best time for visitors to track gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega national park as well as Virunga national park.

However, many tourists choose to travel to Congo between June to September to February since in these months, the amount of rain has reduced and it’s sunny in most of the destinations. December is one of the busiest months of the year in most national parks in DR Congo; hence it’s advisable to book gorilla trekking permits in advance as well as hiking permits to climb Mount Nyiragongo.

Best Tour Operator Companies That Conduct Tours to Kahuzi-Biega National Park.

When planning your trip to Kahuzi-Biega National Park, make sure that you are booking your trip with a trusted and registered tour operator company like Explore Rwanda Tours, Achieve Global Safaris, Kenya Safaris and Focus East Africa Tours. These tour companies do most of the planning for you inclusive of activities in the park, booking with the accommodation facilities, safari vehicle, fuel and guides to mention but a few.

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