Kahuzi Biega National Park Congo
Kahuzi biega national park Congo, Congo eastern lowland gorilla trekking safaris, gorilla safaris in kahuzi biega park. Kahuzi Biega National Park is a protected area near Bukavu town in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is situated near the western bank of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border. Established in 1970, the park is named after two dormant volcanoes, Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega, which are within its limits. With an area of 6,000 square kilometers.
Kahuzi Biega is one of the biggest national parks in the country. Set in both mountainous and lowland terrain, it is one of the last refuges of the rare species of Eastern lowland gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri), an endangered category under the IUCN Red List. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, inscribed in 1980 for its unique biodiversity of rainforest habitat and its eastern lowland gorillas.
The 75,000ha of land covered by park consists of the Mitumba Mountain range, the western mountains of the Great Rift Valley. The two main peaks, Mount Kahuzi (3,308 m) and Mount Biéga (2,790 m) are extinct volcanoes, and the massif dates from the late Tertiary or early Quaternary.The lowland sector in the Zairean central basin covers the watersheds of the tributaries of the Luka and Lugulu rivers. These both drain into the River Lualaba. The extension lies below 1,500 m apart from isolated peaks such as Mount Kamani (1,700 m), and consists of mountains cut by deep valleys. Undulating terrain in the west forms a belt between the two zones.
Straddling the Albertine Rift and the Congo Basin, Kahuzi Biega National Park is an exceptional habitat for the protection of the rainforest and the eastern lowland gorillas, Gorilla berengei graueri. Extending over 600,000 ha, are dense lowland rainforests as well as Afro-montane forests, with bamboo forests and some small areas of sub-alpine prairies and heather on Mounts Kahuzi (3,308 m) and Biega (2,790 m).
The Park contains a flora and fauna of exceptional diversity, making it one of the most vital sites in the Albertine Rift Valley region, it is also one of the ecologically richest regions of Africa and worldwide. In particular, the most important world population of eastern lowland gorillas that use the mosaic of habitats found in the areas covered by Kahuzi Biega National Park.
Kahuzi Biega National Park contains a greater diversity of mammal species than any other site in the Albertine Rift Valley Region. It is the second most important site of the region for both endemic species and in terms of specific diversity. The Park protects 136 species of mammals, among which the star is the eastern lowland gorilla and thirteen other primates, including threatened species such as the chimpanzee, the colubus bai and cercopiuthic of Hoest and Hamlyn. Other extremely rare species of the eastern forests of the DRC are also found, such as the giant forest genet and the aquatic genet. Characteristic mammals of the central African forests also live in the Park, such as the bush elephant, bush buffalo, hylochere and bongo.
The park is situated in an important endemism zone (Endemic Bird Area) for birds identified by Birdlife International. The Wildlife Conservation Society established a complete list of birds in the Park in 2003 with 349 species, including 42 endemic. Also, the Park was designated as a centre of diversity for plants by IUCN and WWF in 1994, with at least 1,178 inventoried species in the highland zone, although the lowland yet remains to be recorded. The Park is one of the rare sites of sub-Saharan Africa where the flora and fauna transition from low to highlands is observable. In effect, it includes all the stages of forest vegetation from 600 m to more than 2,600 m, dense low and middle altitude rainforests to sub-mountain to mountain and bamboo forests. Above 2,600 m at the summit of Mounts Kahuzi and Biega, sub-alpine vegetation has developed, with heather, and home to the endemic plant Senecio kahuzicus. The Park also contains plant formations, rare worldwide, such as the swamp and bog altitudes and the marshland and riparian forests on hydromorphic ground at all altitudes.
Attractions in Kahuzi Biega National Park Congo
Birds in Kahuzi Beiga National Park
A rich diversity of birdlife is found within the park. Thirty of the 336 species birds found in the park are endemic to the Albertine Rift, including the Rockefeller’s sunbird, Ruwenzori Turaco, Grauer’s broadbill, Grauer’s warbler and Shelley’s crimsonwing. Birds play an important role in dispersing seeds throughout the park. Some species digest and excrete the seed, allowing seedlings to be spread far from the parent tree.
The hot, humid temperature in the lowland region is also ideal for insects that decompose plant material. A single leaf on the forest floor can be “digested” in only two months. Ants and termites alone account for more than 30% of the total biomass in a tropical forest.
Bukavu was established in 1901 by the Belgian colonial authorities and is the capital of South Kivu province. This picturesque city of about 250,000 boasts a pleasant subtropical climate and a scenic location between the southern shores of Lake Kivu and the forested mountains inland. The influences of Belgian colonial times can be found in the grand houses bordering the lake, the old cathedral Our Lady of Peace and in the magnificent College Alfajiri. This reputed academic institution’s establishment in 1937 heralded the beginning of mixed-race education in the Belgian Congo and yet its history is far from harmonious, being intricately tied in with the tumultuous history of eastern Congo itself. Its grounds were used as a base for a Belgian uprising against Mobutu in the 60s and as refugee camp following the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and its walls are riddled with the bullet-holes from the subsequent invasion of Rwandan forces. The College Alfajiri thus serves as an important reminder of the past whilst at the same time, through its excellent academic programme, holding a key to the region’s full education.
Idjwi Island receives few visitors, but is a unique and unexplored travel destination. The Island is 340 sq km in size and 70 km in length, the second largest inland island in Africa. Located within Lake Kivu it can be seen clearly from both the Rwandan and Congolese main lands.
Activities include visiting one of the many pineapple plantations (and of course picking and eating one), village and nature walks, bird-watching, swimming in the lake and interacting with the local people to learn about life on Idjwi. Boat rides can also be organized to take you around the small islets surrounding the island, where you can also visit nearby fishing villages. Pay the fishermen a small tip to guide you through the lush, primary tropical forest on this little piece of paradise, abounding in bird life and also home to a troupe of as yet unidentified monkeys.
Lowland Gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park
Among the 136 species of mammals identified in the park, the eastern lowland gorilla is the most prominent. According to a 2008 status report of the DR of Congo, the park had 125 lowland gorillas, a marked reduction from the figure of 600 gorillas of the pre-1990’s conflict period, and consequently the species has been listed in the endangered list. The park is the last refuge of this rare species. According to the census survey of eastern lowland gorillas reported by the Wildlife Conservation Society in April 2011, at least 181 gorillas were recorded in the park.
The Eastern Lowland Gorilla is a sub species closely related to the Mountain Gorilla, which resides in the mountains bordering Rwanda, Uganda and DRC. There are small differences between the two sub species. The Eastern Lowland Gorillas found in Kahuzi Biega are larger in size, with a bigger, longer face and fewer nose prints.
Male gorillas fight over three main things, territory, females and food. In Kahuzi Biega National Park disputes have occurred between the two habituated families, the Chimanuka and Mugaruka, named after the dominant male silverbacks. The latest dispute resulted in Chimanuka winning, after which he subsequent took all of the females and infants from Mugaranka for himself.
There are nine gorilla families in Kahuzi Biega. Two are habituated for visitors, Chimanuka and Mugaruka, both named after the dominant male silverback. Chimanuka is the silverback of a large family containing 36 members. Along with him there are 17 females and 18 infants aging from 6 months to 9 years old. The family is famous for having 4 sets of twins, a phenomenon unseen in any Eastern Gorilla populations. Mugaruka lost one hand in a poachers trap and is now a solitary male after losing his accompanying females and infants in a fight with Chimanuka.
The lowland gorillas are characterized by the following;
Eastern Lowland Gorillas are peaceful, mainly herbivorous animals that live in groups of 5-30 individuals. Individual males can weigh up to 250kg in captivity, but in the wild they usually weigh 200kg. Females are significantly smaller, with a maximum weight of 110kg. Eastern Lowland Gorillas live in family groups consisting of a large dominant male Gorilla and females and infants. Males are known as “Silverbacks” in reference to the distinctive silver hairs on their back upon reaching maturity. Gorillas are identified by their “nose prints,” which are the patterns of wrinkles on their noses. Each gorilla has a unique nose print.
The gestation period for female gorillas is 8 ½ months. Gorilla infants are helpless at birth, learning to walk independently around 9 months. Infant gorillas are nursed for about 3 years before becoming fully independent. Female gorillas gain maturity around the age of 10 years old and have only one baby every four years, meaning that over the 25 year life span she will only give birth to an average of 3 offspring. The slow reproductive rate means that it can take many years for a population to recover from threats such as hunting and ongoing conflict.
The diet of Eastern Lowland Gorillas mainly consists of leaves, but they have also been observed consuming fruit, seeds, bamboo shoots and insects. Mostly active during the day, they make a new nest each night, with mothers sharing with infants. Watching a gorilla sitting peacefully in the forest eating and socializing is a truly magical experience.
Gorillas communicate in a variety of different ways. Vocal communication occurs between individual gorillas, and within larger groups. Adults and infants have a variety of different calls depending on the situation. “Close” calls are commonly given within the group in situations of either potential separation or potential conflict. Extra-group calls serve to alert group members of potential predation and include “barks” or are given as long-distance threat displays upon detection of another group. These can also be accompanied by chest beating, a common non vocal communication method.
Lwiro Primate Rehabilitation Centre (CPRL) was established in 2002 to provide care and rehabilitation for orphaned primates, while working to ensure their survival in the wild. It is located on the grounds of CRSN, the Congolese Government Scientific Research Centre, which is located in an old Belgian colonial building. The sanctuary works closely with the ICCN and currently cares for 49 chimpanzees and over 60 monkeys. Other activities undertaken include education programs for local people, children, military and tourists. The old Belgian research centre located on the grounds also has some fascinating exhibits.
Located close to the park headquarters a visit to the sanctuary can be easily combined with a Gorilla trek in a day trip from Bukavu. Ask your tour operator or park staff to arrange a visit to the sanctuary. Entrance for foreigners is $25, which goes directly towards the costs of managing the sanctuary
These are close relatives of humans with a 99% matching DNA to that of humans, the eastern chimpanzee is a sub species of the common chimpanzee hence they share similar characteristics and behaviors. Kahuzi Biega National Park has the common eastern chimpanzee species. An adult Common chimpanzee can weigh between 40-60 kg with a height of 1.6 meters or 5ft3inches while an adult female can weigh between 32-47kg with a height of 1.3 meters or 4feet3inches. Common chimpanzees have coarse black hair except on their toes, face, fingers, palms of the hands and the soles of their feet. The chimpanzees have a firm grip because their thumbs and big toes are opposite to each other. These chimpanzees live in communities usually between 10-100 individuals, chimpanzee communities are led by a dominant male called the alpha male.
The alpha male might not be the strongest male chimp in the community but rather the most canning and political. Besides protecting the community from external invasion and internal bickering among the individuals, the alpha male also spends its time grooming the other young males in the community. The females on the other hand spend time taking care of the young ones. Chimpanzees reach puberty stage between 10-12 years and an adult female can produce between 4-6 babies throughout their lifetime. The chimps sleep in a different nest everyday which they build using a tree branches, twigs and leaves. Chimpanzees have a life span of up to 40 years in their natural habitat, this can increase to up to 50 years of age in captivity. The chimps have a gestation period of 8 months.
Owl faced monkeys
The owl faced monkey is also referred to as the Hamlyn’s monkey because it was Hamlyn who was the 1st person to take this monkey to a London zoo. The Hamlyn monkeys have bare blue buttocks with a black- greyish coat but the mature males also have bright red and blue genitalia. Juvenile monkeys of this species have yellow brown coat with a pink face. These monkeys can be distinctively distinguished from other related monkeys such as the L’Hoest monkeys basing on a white stripe that runs from the root of their nose to the upper lip area hence giving them an owl like face hence the naming owl faced monkeys.
These monkeys weigh about 7-10kg for males and 4.5-6 kg for females. They have been recorded to stay in groups of less than 10 individuals led by an alpha male and a number of females and their offsprings. The Hamlyn’s monkeys live in high elevated lands of about 900-4500m above sea level. These monkeys have a diet that mainly consists of fruits and leaves. The owl faced monkeys live for about 25 or more years in their natural habitats and over 30 years in captivity.
These are relatively smaller than their cousins the bush elephants. The forest elephants have an average height of 2.5m or 8.2ft with 900kg or 1980Ib as average body weight their tusks are longer and narrower than the those of the bush elephants growing up to 1.5m or 5ft and weighing between 45-100Ib or 23-45 kg. this is because they need these tusks to navigate through the thick undergrowth in the forest jungles where they habituate.
The forest buffalo is sometimes referred to as the Dwarf buffalo because its smaller than the cape buffalo and also have a different skin color which is reddish brown unlike the cape buffalo skin which is dark. The forest buffalo weighs in at 250-320kg or 550-750Ib. The forest buffaloes also stay in much smaller herds of between 3-30 buffaloes and almost stay together for the greater part of the year unlike the cape buffaloes who usually herd together during the wet season mostly. These animals are herbivores and have a gestation period of between 281-334days with an average life span of 20-25 years.
Leopards are some of the big cat family predators that roam the plains Kahuzi Biega National Park and they are at the top of the food chain together. Leopards are usually taken to be the same with cheetahs but they are completely different as cheetahs have tear marks on their faces small round spots while leopards have no this distinctive mark on their faces and have larger rosettes on their body. The skin color of leopards ranges from pale yellow to golden or yellowish brown with rosettes and this enables these super predators to camouflage so that they can stalk their prey without ever being noticed.
Male leopards are muscular with short limbs and a broad head, the males have an average shoulder height of 60-70cm or 24-28in and weigh in at 37-90kg while the females have an average shoulder height of57-64cm or 22-25in and weigh in between26-60kg. the cheetah has a very long tail that’s white tipped with a length of 60-100cm or 24-39in and this enables the leopards make quick sharp turns at high speed while on a chase. Leopards can sometimes have black color and this is caused by melanism which is a recessive gene in these animals and when a leopard is having this phenomena, it turns from being called a leopard to a black panther. Leopards are usually solitary animals, they have a gestation period of 90-105 days and can live in their natural habitat for 12-17 years.
Other primates in Kahuzi Biega National Park
Other primates include the eastern chimpanzee, and several Cercopithecinae, Colobinae and owl-faced monkey. Some of the mammals include the bush elephant, bush buffalo, hylochere and bongo, Aquatic civet, eastern needle-clawed galago, Maclaud’s horseshoe bat, Ruwenzori least otter shrew, and Alexander’s bush squirrel.
Safari Activities in Kahuzi Biega National Park Congo
Lowland Gorilla Trekking
Visiting the Eastern Lowland Gorillas at Kahuzi Biega is a truly unforgettable experience. Just before the entrance to the park is the Tshivanga Visitor Centre. You will be greeted by park staff that will assist with payment and registration. Make sure you take a photo with the large gorilla statue while waiting for trackers locate the gorilla family. Once the location is confirmed you will begin to drive into the park.
Your guide will give you a short introduction before starting the forest hike. He will cover the history, geography and some facts about the gorilla family you will be visiting. The guide will also provide you with advice on how to behave when with the gorillas. Following the briefing you begin your journey along narrow jungle paths to meet the gorillas. Masks are worn to prevent gorillas from catching human disease. The length of this hike depends on the location of the gorillas. Some days they can be a 10-15 minute walk from the road, other days it can take over an hour of walking to reach the gorillas.
When you enter the territory of the gorillas you will be greeted by the enormous male silverback, making sure you are not a threat. After he accepts your presence a magical one hour of observing the gorillas will begin, which is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Mount Kahuzi Hike
This is the highest peak in the park, at 3,308m. The climb takes approximately 4 hours through bamboo forest and sub alpine vegetation, and 3 hours to descend. The summit provides spectacular views of Lake Kivu and the city of Bukavu.
Mount Bugulumiza Trail-
This 6km trail starts near the Tshivanga Visitor Centre and covers terrain regularly occupied by the Chimanuka gorilla family. The summit offers amazing views of Mt Kahuzi and Mt Biega along with the nearby landscape. The hike takes about 3 hours return.
Mount Biega Hike
The second highest peak in the park lies at an altitude of 2790m. The vegetation differs significantly from Mount Kahuzi making it a wonderful ecological experience. The climb takes about 6 hours return, so it is important to make an early start. Park staff is currently working to construct a clear trail to Mt Biega, keep checking the website for updates.
Accessing Kahuzi Biega National Park in D.R. Congo
Kahuzi Biega National Park can be accessed by road and air transport means
Road transport means
Kahuzi Biega National Park lies 30km from Bukavu town which will take you a 1 and ½ hour drive to get to the park center. Kahuzi Biega can be accessed from Rwanda or Uganda.
Driving from Rwanda takes about a 7-hour drive to get to the park. The journey follows Kigali-Cyangugu/Rusizi I –Bukavu- Tschivanga visitor center.
Driving from Uganda is embarks you on a 10-11hour drive as you have to cross into Rwanda via Chanika border then take an overnight stay in either Musanze or Kigali to break down the journey then follow the same route from Kigali-Rwanda towards Kahuzi Beiga National Park
Most international visitors going to Kahuzi Biega National Park arrive by air landing at Kigali airport then drive to Kahuzi Biega National Park but there is also another option of further using chartered flights from Kigali airport to fly to Kavumu airport then proceed to Bukavu town and finally Kahuzi Biega National Park.
Kahuzi Biega National Park can be accessed by having a chartered flight to Kavumu airport which serves this park. Kavumu airport is serviced by flights from Rwanda’s Kigali airport. From Kavumu airport you will have to take a road trip to the visitor center. From Kavumu airport drive towards Miti town then take a left turn and drive straight from there till you get to the Tschivanga visitor center in Kahuzi Biega National Park
Accommodation/ hotels/ safari lodges in Kahuzi Biega National Park in D.R. Congo
As of today, Kahuzi Biega National Park doesn’t have proper accommodation or lodging facilities and if you visit Kahuzi Biega National Park and you want to stay in a good hotel facility, Bukavu town is your place to stay as it has numerous lodging facilities ranging from luxury to mid-range and budget hotels for you to choose from.
|NAME||Location||Number of guestrooms||Nature of guestrooms||Amenities and services available||Price range|
|Orchids Safari Lodge||Outside the park on the shores of lake kivu||Numerous luxury guestrooms that can accommodate 22 guests at full capacity||All guestrooms are fitted with a private bathroom and fitted with large windows for great views of the wilderness beyond||Restaurant
|Prices for lodging begin fom 250$-500$ per person a night|
|Coco Lodge||Bukavu town||8 guestrooms
On double and single occupancy basis only
Note: same sex couple aren’t allowed
|All guestrooms are self-contained with a privately fitted bathroom with both warm and cold running water in the shower taps||Restaurant
Cable tv channels on their flat screen tvs
|Prices for lodging here range between 100-290$|
|Begonians Hotel||Bukavu town||26 guestrooms||All guestrooms are fully fitted with private bathrooms||Swimming pool
Free parking space
|Exodus Hotel Bukavu||Bukavu town||Numerous budget guest rooms||All rooms are fitted with a private bathroom||Restaurant
|Lake Side Hotel Bukavu||Bukavu town||Many guestrooms for budget tourists||All rooms are self-contained with private bathrooms||Swimming pool
Restaurant and coffee shop
Gorilla Tracking In Kahuzi Biega National Park D.R. Congo
Kahuzi Biega National Park has the eastern low land gorillas. Eastern lowland gorillas are the largest of the 4 existing gorilla species with a male eastern lowland gorilla having an average weight of 210kg or 460ib while females weigh less with an average weight of 100kg or 220ib. the males have an average standing height of 1.85m or 6.1ft while females stand at an average of 1.6m of5.2ft. The eastern lowland gorilla has large stocky arms and a short muzzle with less fur on the head. These gorillas have a jet-black coat similar to that of mountain gorillas.
The male eastern gorillas still have a grey coat which will eventually turn into a silver grey coat especially on the back hence the terming silver back. Just like their mountain cousins, lowland gorillas live in large groups called families which are headed by an alpha dominant male, whose main responsibility is to offer protection to his family. The family can consist of members ranging from 2-35 on average including a number of adult females and their off springs. When these off springs mature especially the male, they are likely to leave their natal family, become bachelors for a time being as they try to attract females to join them and form their own family.
These gorillas are usually calm giants who will even shy away when directly contacted. These gorillas are normally herbivores eating leaves, fruits, stems and small insects such as termites and ants. They are not usually seen drinking water and its believed that this is so because they foliage mostly on leaves that are highly succulent with high water content. Eastern gorillas have a gestation period of about 8 and ½ months and will breast feed their babies for around 3 years’ time. Male infants will only reach maturity at 12 years while the female babies will attain maturity at 10 years.
How Many Gorilla Families Are In Kahuzi Biega National Park D.R. Congo?
Kahuzi Biega National Park has 8 gorilla families but only 2 of these have been habituated for tourism purposes and they are
Chimanuka family is led by a dominant silver back called Chimanuka. This family comprises of 36 members which include 17 females and 18 infants aged 6 months to 9 years old. This family has heavily defied odds by having 4 sets of twin births which is highly uncommon among the gorillas.
This is the second habituated gorilla family in Kahuzi Biega National Park. This family is under the leadership of Mugaruka as the dominant silverback and he his highly protective of his family members always fighting with Chimanuka and other gorillas who come to annex some of his family members. Unfortunately, Mugaruka lost one of his hand to a poacher’s trap and this has greatly hindered his ability to protect his family and as a result all his family members left him and joined Chimanuka hence leaving him in a solitude state.
With 2 habituated gorilla families, Kahuzi Biega National Park gives you a new dimension of gorilla tracking as you get to explore this beautiful tucked away paradise as you search for the gorilla families that habituate in the forests of Kahuzi Beiga National Park ranges. Just like in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, gorilla tracking here is also done in groups of not more than 8 people who get to track each family of gorillas. When a family tracked is seen, the tourists are given an hour to photograph and observe these gorillas as they go about their rounds in their natural habitats. Kahuzi Biega National Park offers 16 gorilla permits per day hence prior booking is recommended. Gorilla permits here cost 400$ per person per day.
How Many People Can Track A Gorilla Family?
Each gorilla family in Kahuzi Biega National Park can be tracked by a group of people between 1-8 individuals. This means that if you come in group of more than 8 people you will be divided in groups of not more than 8 individuals and each group will track a different gorilla family at the same time.
What Is The Best Time To Track Gorillas In Kahuzi Biega National Park D.R. Congo?
In order to experience the thrill of tracking these adorable giant but shy mountain gorillas, you need to come to Kahuzi Biega National Park during the dry season months June- October and January – February. The dry season is the best time to track gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park because accessibility is quite easy during the dry season and the trails for gorilla tracking are also navigable. During the dry months, the weather is very fine with temperatures ranging in the mid 20s and there are low chances of rain though it may occasionally rain especially in the afternoon hours. You can also track gorillas during the wet months, gorilla families tend to stay nearer in the lower slopes of these ranges due to abundance of food in these lower slopes of the ranges hence making the trekking time shorter and quite easy for you but still loaded with a multitude of unimaginable experience. During the rainy season you should come with some rain gear as it can shower anytime of the day but it doesn’t rain all day.
How And Where To Get Gorilla Permits For Gorilla Tracking In Kahuzi Biega National Park D.R. Congo?
Gorilla tracking permits for Kahuzi Biega National Park can only be obtained from the Kahuzi Beiga National Park using their email where you write to the park and book a gorilla tracking permit or through a tour operator who will buy it on your behalf as part of your tour package to Kahuzi Biega National Park.
When Should I Book A Gorilla Trekking Permit In Kahuzi Biega National Park D.R. Congo?
A gorilla trekking permit in Kahuzi Biega National Park should be booked at least 3 months, this is because the gorilla trekking permits in Kahuzi Biega National Park are only 16 in number hence there is high demand for them.
What Is Included In A Gorilla Trekking Permit In Kahuzi Biega National Park?
A gorilla trekking permit in Kahuzi Biega National Park comes along with services which include entry fees to the park, services of a guide/ranger that will accompany you as track a gorilla family and it also gets you an hour with the gorilla family after successfully tracking and finding its current location.
What Is The Cost Of Gorilla Tracking Permits In Kahuzi Biega National Park D.R. Congo?
Gorilla tracking permits in Democratic republic of Congo in Kahuzi Biega National Park are relatively cheap as compared to other permit prices within the region only costing 400USD for a permit and secure yourself a magical experience of a life time with these gentle eastern lowland giants.
Does Kahuzi National Park Have Discounted Gorilla Permits?
Yes, its very true. Kahuzi Biega National Park has discounted gorilla permits available to students at a cost of only 200USD.
What Is The Minimum Age Of Gorilla Tracking In Kahuzi Biega National Park D.R. Congo?
All people of all ages are welcome to Kahuzi Biega National Park. However, the gorilla tracking experience is only available to visitors who are aged 15 years and above. This so because of the greater challenges that might be involved like tracking gorillas for a long time or getting scared on seeing the gorillas themselves as they are huge animals. Children below 15 years shouldn’t be left behind on a visit to Kahuzi Biega National Park as there are other activities they engage in such as birding.
How Long Is Gorilla Tracking In Kahuzi Biega National Park D.R. Congo?
Gorilla tracking in Kahuzi Biega National Park can take anywhere between 1 hour to possibly 8 hours before finding the gorilla family you have tracked. The tracking time will majorly depend on the location of gorilla family whether it is near or very far away, it will also depend on the moods of the gorillas you have tracked, if they seem to be agitated, your ranger guide will cut short your time with the gorillas so as to ensure that you are safe because these animals are wild and can sometimes be aggressive though this is a rare occurrence because before gorilla families are open for tourism purposes, they go through a rigorous habituation process in which they get to acclimatize to human presence near them so rest assured that you will be safe.
What Are The Chances Of Seeing A Gorilla Family In Kahuzi Biega National Park D.R. Congo?
Your chances of seeing a gorilla family in Kahuzi Biega National Park are high almost over 90% because before you track a gorilla family, park rangers track it very early in the morning and will radio to your ranger guide about the current location of the gorilla family you are to track so that you have prior knowledge of their location before you set out to track that family. The only challenge that might raise is that of the gorilla family to keep changing its location
What Rules Should I Observe Before Starting The Tracking Process In Kahuzi Biega Nattional Park D.R. Congo?
- Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas on the way to the gorillas:
- Please always keep your voices low. you will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
- Do not leave rubbish in the park. whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
- You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. from there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way!
- When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.
What Rules Should I Observe When I Meet The Gorillas In Kahuzi Biega National Park D.R. Congo?
- A 7-meter (21 feet) distance should tried to be observed at all times from the gorillas. the further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
- You must stay in tight group whey you are near the gorillas.
- Keep your voices down at all times. however, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
- Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.
- Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
- Flash photography is not permitted! when taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
- Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
- The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. however, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
- After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.
What Are General Health Rules That Are Observed On Gorilla Tracking Safari In Kahuzi Biega National Park D.R. Congo?
- Remember that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. the following rules are ways to minimize the risk your visit might poses to them:
- Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. this minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
- If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. an alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
- If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
- Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. this is to protect them from catching human diseases.
- Do not leave any rubbish (eg. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
- If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are finished.
What Should I Bring Or Carry On A Gorilla Tracking Safari In Kahuzi Biega National Park D.R. Congo?
- Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
- Put on ear plugs for those who feel uncomfortable with the jungle sounds.
- Carry a packed lunch and enough drinking water
- Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent.
- Bring a photo of film camera. using flashlight is not permitted so we recommend using films of 400-800 ASA.
Kahuzi Biega National Park in Democratic Republic Of Congo ( D.R. Congo)
Name: Kahuzi Biega National Park
Location: continent- Africa, region- central Africa, country- Democratic Republic of Congo, direction- eastern D.R. Congo near Bukavu town in Kivu province
Geographical co-ordinates: 2o30’0”S 28o45’0”E
Responsible governing body: l’institut Conglais pour la conservation de la nature
Size: 6000sqkm Year of designation: 27th July 1937
Elevations of Kahuzi Biega National Park: highest peak is Kahuzi peak at 3308m above sea level.
Climate of Kahuzi Biega National park: tropical rainforest climatic pattern with 2 rainfall seasons between March- May and September- November
Attractions of Kahuzi Biega National Park: Eastern lowland gorillas, eastern chimpanzees, forest elephants, forest buffaloes, owl faced monkeys, volcano peaks of Kahuzi and Beiga
Activities in Kahuzi Biega National Park: gorilla tracking, chimpanzee tracking, nature walks, birding, volcano hiking
Accommodation in Kahuzi Biega National Park: Orchids safari lodge, Coco lodge, exodus hotel Bukavu, lake side hotel Bukavu, Begonians hotel
Best time to visit Kahuzi Biega National Park: September- November for gorilla tracking.
Location and Historical Background of Kahuzi Biega National Park in D.R Congo
Kahuzi Biega National Park is found in the Democratic Republic Of Congo on the African continent along geographical co-ordinates of 2o30’0”S 28o45’0”E. The park lies in the eastern part of D.R Congo in the Kivu region. It is bordered by the lake Kivu and Rwanda in the eastern end with Bakavu being the closest town to the park. In the north the park is bordered by Tulakawa, Ibumba in the west and Irega and Kisasa areas in the south. Kahuzi Beiga stretches to cover a land area of about 6000sqkm of land covering areas like Mitumba mountain range in the Albertine rift, it also occupies a corridor of 7.4km or 4.6mi that connects the mountainous area side of the park to its larger lowland area which covers about 5600sqkm running from Bukavu to Kisagani with rivers Luka and Lugulu flowing in its basin and these later join the main Lualaba river. Kahuzi Beiga National Park got its name from the existence of 2 dormant volcanoes within its confinement i.e. mount Kahuzi with an altitude of 3308m or 10853ft and mount Beiga with an altitude of 2790m or 9150ft.
Congo Travel Information
Congo Travel Information
Congo Travel Information, Best Time to Travel to Congo, Congo Health Considerations, Congo Visa Information, Congo National Parks Game Reserves, Congo Safari Attractions. Following the Civil wars that occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo from the Independence time, the travel in the destination Congo has been limited and only undertaken by the most adventurous or daring travellers along with businessmen.
Fortunately, that Congo is no more. The expanses of Congo stretching from Kinshasa to Goma, the Rwanda border to the Congo River system until its emptying in Atlantic Ocean, destination Congo only features amazing riches of the continent of Africa with diversity of wildlife, scenery and culture all thriving in a tranquil and peaceful environment.
With the assistance of the Chinese, a range of infrastructural developments including roads and rail lines connect Democratic Republic of Congo with the neighbouring states especially the Republic of Congo. The range of Airlines also connect to Congo including; Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airways, South African, African Sky, Air France, Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines. Kinshasa the main capital of Democratic Republic of Congo features a range of twenty (20) carriers that operate flights to it.
The City of Kinshasa is one of the lively cities on the continent of Africa with rich internet access; International cuisine including European, Middle Eastern, Asian, Western and Asian Cuisine is available in most of the restaurants and actually across the main Cities of Congo while the Night life is full of fun listening to the famous indigenous Lingala songs.
At the centre piece of the famous Congo basing ranked as second largest tropical rain forest in the world following the Amazon, there lies the famous Congo River noted to be offering the world’s greatest river journey. Apparently, the cruise along the Congo River is possible subject to correct home work.
Regarding the accommodation, the a range of comfortable hotels and lodges including 5 start hotels are being constructed across the main towns while Safari lodges present accommodation for travellers on Congo Safaris and tours. The Kinshasa Hotels range from around $60 but a Congo safari undertaker friendly room is around $80 – $300. Read More Here
Best Time to Travel to Congo
Best Time to Travel
The average day time temperature in Democratic Republic of Congo is 24 degrees Celsius while the nights are between 16 degrees Celsius and 21 degrees Celsius. The Annual rainfall ranges from 1100mm to 2000mm while seasons of the year are categorized into four namely; October to December which is a long rainy season, January to February is a short dry season, March to April is a short rainy season and May to September is a long dry season.
The Odzala National Park is the main destination in Democratic Republic of Congo and features 1500mm every year and the best time to visit it is May to December.
Kinshasa City Congo
Kin La Belle stands a long-aged misnomer nestled in its monster of electric African sky as visible across all the streets. Kinshasa stands as one of the vibrant African cities famed for its indigenous music and less dangerous compared to some other African cities. The Lola ya Bonobo is about one hour’s drive from Kinshasa which is the popular site for day excursion from the city.
The Democratic Republic of Congo features the best hotels in the Central of Africa including the famous Kempinski Residence and Fleuve Congo Hotel. Though the nightlife is buzzing in Kinshasa, you can’t take a walk in a range of places at night apart from the areas close to embassies and good hotels.
Kinshasa is popular for its history, music and culture, the neighbouring McVallee Lake and the Bonono Orphanage. The boat ride to Kisangani is a lasting adventure into the Congo’s darkest wild. The Avenue de tourisme presents the best scenic drive along River Congo in Kinshasa.
The men in uniform are common along the road drives in Democratic Republic of Congo and they may or may not request for money from foreigners but it is advisable to carry along a pocket change for a bottle of soda for them. It is important to keep calm and sense of humour as it would help to make things smooth along the way.
If you opt to connect to Kisangani by public ferry, be prepared for an awful but a lasting adventure of its own. It is always expensive if not dangerous to procure or hire own boat to Kisangani. The public Ferry departs Kinshasa with 2 – 4 platforms in tandem that turn into floating dirty market places per 10 – 20 days.
Connecting to Kisangani takes about 15 – 20 days and the boat does not pass through the secluded and beautiful parts of Congo River. There is need for flexibility until you land on a bunk and though you may be required to secure a four bed room alone, the guarantee is low that you will have it yourself. Mosquitoes and Theft are common along the Ferry and this is not a cruise ship thus hot, not clean and unsafe. It is always exciting to see some fish being sold some of which have never been documented in science prior.
The private boat operators also exist and can as well be used where you travel in a covered boat marked by powerful engines along with a full team of porters, cooks, camping gear and permits.
On a sad note, at about 400km River Congo stretch in the south of Kisangani has developed the man eating crocodiles and canoeing and kayaking should be avoided along that area.
IS CONGO SAFE?
It can be noted that Congo is Safe. The Kinshasa City is recorded to be even safer than Johannesburg and Nairobi where crime rate is high. However, like other cities, there are parts on Kinshasa that one should not walk in alone at night.
Despite the negative media coverage positioning Congo as a land of war torn people, the destination Congo is steadily rising from the civil war conflict especially to the east of the country and presents harmonious travel platform for the world travellers. But the issues of men in uniform still remain though could be avoided with a friendly gesture and compliance. Read More Here
Congo visa inforamtion and airport hassless in Kinshasa
The travellers intending to take up Democratic Republic of Congo Safaris and tours require a valid passport and tourist Visa. The Passport should be valid for six (6) months with at least one blank passport page on which the Visa can be stamped.
You require a letter of invitation from your host company in Democratic Republic of Congo which you will attach on the Visa application letter submitted to the local embassy or online at travisa. The letter of invitation has to specify the period of stay, place stay and contact information. The computer generated flight itinerary from a travel agency or an airline detailing the port of entry and exit from Democratic Republic of Congo is as well required.
Other requirements include; the birth certificate copy and a notarized consent letter for minors, medical requirements especially the International Yellow Fever Vaccination and financial statement with enough money to sustain you during the entire period of stay in DR Congo. Important to note is that Democratic Republic of Congo is usually given as Congo- Kinshasa to avoid confusion with the neighbouring Congo Republic.
The duration of the Congo Tourist Visa which can be obtained at all accredited Congo Consulates world over is 90 Days for Single entry but Multiple Entry Visas are as well available. Kinshasa Airport though not so developed handles considerable traffic compared to the Brazzaville across the River. At Kinshasa, you may have issues going through the Immigration formalities in terms of delay and intensive scrutiny but a small tip can take you through such hurdles. Read More Here
Health Considerations in Democratic Republic of Congo
The travellers planning a safari to Congo are advised to consult with their doctors for any necessary medical arrangement. But generally on top of yellow Fever Vaccination, the traveller has to take along Malaria medicine as recommended by his / her doctor.
It is always advisable to have travel insurance or look out for embassy assistance in case of an emergency to advise on recommended hospitals though emergency evacuation to South Africa or Europe is much better if the problem is too serious.
GETTING TO & AROUND DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
A range of Airlines connect to Kinshasa from Johannesburg, Nairobi and Addis Ababa along with a range of other European cities. Asia and America have not yet had direct flights to Kinshasa.
In DR Congo, the Korongo Airlines is the dominant carrier operated by Brussels Airlines and it flies between Kinshasa and Lubumbashi and Johannesburg.
The African low cost carriers though affordable haven’t reached Kinshasa but once they do, it will be great.
The Plane Charters of up to 10,000 connecting to Basankusu with thousands of Bonobos in the heart of Congo can be arranged either from Entebbe Uganda or Kinshasa.
Democratic Republic of Congo can as well be accessed overland through a range of border posts including Bunagana for Uganda and Goma for Rwanda for those interested in Congo Gorilla Safaris in Virunga National Park.
It is also possible to enter close to Bangui in Central Africa Republic or from Cameroon and these borders are less troublesome so long as you are in possession of a visa. While entering through Angola is still a challenge due to a range of illegal stops along the road by even people who pose as officials.
Crossing at Ndola close to Lubumbashi from Zambia is possible and would cost $40 – $60 for the Visa with no questions. But Lubumbashi is quite far from Kinshasa.
Katanga region has good road access constructed by the French, Chinese and African hands as they seek to connect to the mineral rich region to the ports of Atlantic Ocean at Matadi.
There are buses from Kinshasa that connect to the main towns including Matadi costing $13 and Boma $20. Read More Here