Murchison falls in Uganda

Murchison falls in Uganda

Mountain Rwenzori Uganda

Mountain Rwenzori Uganda

Okapi in Congo

Okapi in Congo

Elephants at Murchison falls national park Uganda

Elephants at Murchison falls national park Uganda

Gorilla Family in Rwanda

Gorilla Family in Rwanda

 

Kahuzi Biega national park in Congo

Congo actually has two national parks that host gorillas just like Uganda, Virunga national park hosts mountain gorillas and Kahuzi Biega national park is home to the lowland gorillas. Did you know about Kahuzi Biega national park? This article will help if you didn’t.

Where is Kahuzi Biega national park?

Kahuzi-Biega National Park is a national park close to Bukavu town (the capital of the South Kivu province) in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo at the extreme south-western edge of Lake Kivu. The park is close to Rwanda’s border and most Congo safari tourists enter in to country from either Goma or Rwanda via Rusizi border.

The park borrows its name from two spectacular extinct volcanoes that exist within the park that are Mount Kahuzi 3,308 meters (10,853 ft) and Mount Biega 2,790 meters (9,150 ft). These mountains offer a great hiking experience for those who dare trek them.

Size of Kahuzi Biega national park

Kahuzi-Biega is one of the biggest national parks in the country with a coverage size of 6000sqkms. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, demarcated in 1980 for its exceptional biodiversity of rainforest habitat and its eastern lowland gorillas.

A section of the park in the east (600sqkm) is slightly hilly in Mitumba Foothill range of the Albertine Rift in the Great Rift Valley. The greater part of the park is in lowland terrain (5,400sqkm) stretching from Bukavu to Kisangani drained by rivers Luka and Lugulu flowing in to Lualaba river. A corridor of 7.4 km (4.6 mi) width joins the hilly and lowland terrain. The lowland terrain is what makes Congo gorilla trekking safari tours so easy to undertake.

Eastern lowland gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri), occupy the low and highland terrain of Kahuzi Biega national park.

Kahuzi Biega national park

Lowland gorilla in Kahuzi Biega national park

The Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) is working energetically to observe the gorillas and safeguard the park with its nature. This comes after the park went through dark times since 1997 due to the overwhelming threats and danger caused by the political instability; influx of refugees, illegal settlers, poaching, removal and burning of timber, presence of militia groups.

On a Congo gorilla safari, there’s a choice to trek what you want and be able to reach. For those who can’t hike the chance is here, meet the giants in the lowland of Congo.

All reasons for a Congo tour

A brief about Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the most Magical Africa safari destinations. The Countryside of Democratic Republic of Congo is occupied with a multitude of colorful flowers, Flourishing fruits and Luscious green plants which make it very conducive for leisure and travel. Congo is one of the un touched countries of Africa, its off the beaten truck with a lot of natural diversity  for a Congo tour.

Why undertake a Congo tour.

Congo is the only west African country with both the mountain and lowland gorillas. It shares the mountain gorillas with the East African countries of Rwanda in Volcanoes national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda all within the Virunga massif. The mountain gorillas of Congo have been the biggest reason for Congo gorilla safari to Virunga national park.

Virunga National Park is a home to about a quarter of the world’s remaining mountain Gorillas. Virunga National Park is Africa’s oldest national park and one of the world’s most diverse regions.  Its popular for its thick forest, exceptional mountain peaks and ancient swamps. A bout 2,500 hippopotamuses live on the banks of Lake Edward and the park’s three rivers.

Congo tour

Lowland gorilla trekking

Two of the world’s most active stratovolcanoes are in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mount Nyiragongo had the recent eruptions in 2016 and Mount Nyamuragira had an eruption in 2014. Mount Nyiragongo stands at an elevation of 3,470m and Mount Nyamuragira at 3,058m. The heights offer a trying moment for Congo safari mountain hikers.

Congo tour

Hiking Mount Nyiragongo

A Congo gorilla tour is less expensive compared to the adjacent neighboring countries. Congo gorilla trekking safari permits cost USD 400-450 per person per day and those in Rwanda are at USD 1,500 and Uganda sells at USD 600.

For those who would probably not be able to trek to higher altitudes to see the mountain gorillas, in Congo you can trek the lowland gorillas either within Virunga national park South of Lake Kivu or in Kahuzi Biega national park.

On the western side of the Democratic Republic of Congo is its capital Kinshasa: the world’s second largest French-speaking city. It’s well-known as the destination of central African music, and the bars in Bandal or Matonge are worth visiting for a feel of an African nightlife.

The great Congo River which is the second longest river in Africa after the Nile River and the second largest river in the world by discharge volume of water after the Amazon. It’s the world’s deepest river with measured depths in excess of 220 m and a great place to explore while on a safari in Congo.

The Bambuti pygmies live in the Ituri forest and meeting them offers a complete West African cultural experience.

There no reasons for not visiting Congo with all the unique features the country holds, safari Congo and discover what is hidden in the country.

What to carry for a Congo gorilla trekking safari

A gorilla trekking safari in Congo is like any other safari in tropical Africa. However, this is not a safari to the beach or just a day tour within a city, it’s a gorilla trek and for a great experience you need to plan prior. There’s need for ideas about Congo gorilla trekking safari rules, what to wear and when to wear each clothing. This guide is here to help

What to wear/Clothes to carry for a Congo gorilla trekking safari

For clothing, remember its Africa so wear discreetly according to where you go to. If its within the cities any kind of dress code can be appropriate but when it comes to up country where most of the national safari parks are situated wear something appropriate.

Gorilla trekking is done in high altitude areas of Virunga national park, Bwindi impenetrable national park, Mgahinga gorilla national park, Volcanoes national park and lowland Kahuzi Biega national park in East and West Africa, this is an idea on what to wear.

On the lower slopes before actual trekking, light natural colored safari clothing is appropriate, its warm in Congo. Short sleeved and fast drying clothes are appropriate. The clothes should be loose fitting and relaxed.

Carry a rain jacket for the altitude, remember your trekking in a tropical rain forest. Long sleeved shirts and trousers are appropriate for the trek.

Wear long sleeve clothing from shirts to trousers. This guarantees your protection from thorns, nettles, scrub and insects like soldier ants.

For hand protection, wear leather or gardening gloves. As you trek up hill, there could be need to hold on stems and to avoid the discomfort of nettles pricking your hands, the gloves help out.

Wear a bush hat with a brim for sun protection as the day goes on and protection from anything that would fall from the branches.

Do not carry a lot of clothing since most hotels and Congo safari accommodation facilities offer hand washing laundry services for clients at a very minimum fee.

Whatever you plan to wear for the trek, remember to remain comfortable. The whole safari is about you being able to concentrate on the trek, so let nothing get you uncomfortable.

A sample of what to wear for a Congo gorilla trekking safari

A sample of what to wear for a Congo gorilla trekking safari

Extra clothing to pack for after gorilla trekking activities

Carry along casual clothing like long light trousers, shorts and short sleeve shirts for the men and a dress or jeans for ladies. In the evening you could decide to sit at the hotel fire place or have time with other tourists.

Carry a light sweater, at the foothills of the mountains its cold.

For comfort after the trek, carry light casual shoes for the evening, 1 pair is enough.

Shoes to wear for a gorilla trekking safari

Water proof quality lightweight hiking boots as well as a pair of gaiters or heavy stockings are recommendable. When trekking you can tuck your trouser in to your socks to avoid anything from getting in to your trouser.

Hiking boots give good ankle support, grip, stability and balance as you trek to the mountain.

What to put in your back pack

A simple large zip lock backpack is useful for a gorilla safari. In here you can put your camera, film, water, packed lunch and binoculars. This is the best way to protect your gear.

For a gorilla trekking Congo safari, zip lock plastic bags are not allowed however, if its noticed by the officials that you protecting your gear or insect repellent you can take it and bring it back by all means.

Extra things to carry for a gorilla trekking safari

Carry a small light towel. These are provided in hotels but if there be need, carry a personal one.

Sunscreen and moisturizing cream are necessary, this is Africa and during the best time for a Congo gorilla trekking safari it could really get hot.

Recommendable insect repellent is need, this should not have any side effects since the mountain gorillas are highly susceptible.

Since the jungle has very many other species, ear plugs are recommendable.

Wipes or antibiotic tissues will do great work in hand cleaning.

Carry camera batteries, extra fast film, charger

In case of health issues, carry along personal medicines and Prescription for instance altitude sickness tablets.

A small notebook for noting down all the amazing facts in the forest.

These gorilla trekking safari rules are applicable for Uganda gorilla safari tours and gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda. If you need more wildlife encounters, a Tanzania wildlife safari or wildlife safari in Kenya would serve that purpose.

When you prepare right nothing spoils your safari, plan and enjoy your gorilla trekking safari this summer season.

 

The Mountain and Lowland Gorilla habitats in Congo

The two Congo gorilla safari parks

If your planning to go for a Congo gorilla safari and your specific on which kind of gorillas you want to trek, make sure you know the right destination. Congo has both the mountain and lowland gorillas but surely from their naming they don’t have the same habitat. There are two gorilla safari parks in Congo which are Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park.

The Virunga National Park in Congo

Virunga national park is Africa’s oldest national park that was created in 1925 by King Albert I of Belgium as the first national park on Africa’s continent. The park is north of Goma, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province.

The Virunga national park also known as Parc National des Virunga is 7,800km 2 (3,000sq mi) within the Virunga mountains/massif on an altitude 2,227m-4,127m. It is located in the rugged mountains and volcanic plains adjacent to the neighboring Rwanda Volcanoes national park and Uganda’s Mgahinga gorilla national park.

The tropical rainforest in which Virunga national park lies has hundreds of other rare species with about one-quarter of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. The best park for your Congo gorilla trekking safari is definitely Virunga national park as long as it’s about mountain gorillas.

It is abundantly clear that the Virunga national park is deeply affected by insecurity as of now and that this will be the case till early 2019.

Mountain gorillas in the Virunga national park

Mountain gorillas in the Virunga national park

 

The Kahuzi Biega National Park in Congo

The park has its name originating from a vast area of primary tropical forest dominated by two spectacular extinct volcanoes, Kahuzi (3,308 m) and Biega (2,790 m).  The park has the last groups of eastern lowland gorillas (Gorilla berengei graueri) which are the largest of the four gorilla sub-species. These eastern lowland gorillas are endemic to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kahuzi Biega National park is a protected area near Bukavu town in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo near the western bank of Lake Kivu. A small section of the park is in Mitumba mountain range of the Albertine rift and the larger part in the lower terrain joined by a corridor of about 7.4 kilometers. The section that the lowland gorillas live covers an area of 5,400 square kilometers.

Since the park is crossed by the Albertine rift, it is a perfect habitat for the protection of the rainforest and the eastern lowland gorillas. The Albertine rift is also one of the ecologically richest regions of Africa and worldwide. The Kahuzi Biega park is comprised of over 600,000 ha of dense lowland rainforests, Afro-montane forests, bamboo forests and some small areas of sub-alpine prairies and heather.

Lowland gorilla in Kahubi Biega National Park

Lowland gorilla in Kahubi Biega National Park

 

You now know where to go for a Congo safari, either go to the North kivu province or South kivu province it’s a question of your desire and fitness.

Congo gorilla trekking safari rules

Gorillas habitats in Congo

Congo gorilla safari encounters are so rewarding since it’s the only home in West Africa with both mountain and lowland gorillas. The mountain gorillas in Congo are found within Virunga national park in Virunga massif. Uganda’s Mgahinga national park and Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park are located on the same massif.

The lowland gorillas (Grauer’s gorilla) are found in Congo’s kahuzi biega national park. It’s the only park where a tourist can see these gorillas in the wild protected by the mountain forest.

Why the Congo gorilla safari rules

Congo gorilla trekking safaris are the key tourist activities in Congo alongside hiking Mount Nyiragongo. Gorilla trekking is an extremely sensitive activity, and for anyone to indulge in it, they should adhere to the recommended rules and regulations.

Gorillas are susceptible to human diseases and therefore protecting them from contracting diseases means conserving them.

There many numbers of tourists who trek gorillas each single day and therefore regulating their actions in the forest helps to conserve the gorilla habitat and the gorillas themselves.

These gorilla trekking rules are not only in Congo but applicable to Uganda gorilla safari activities and gorilla safari Rwanda tours with a few modifications.

Tourists on a Congo gorilla safari

Tourists on a Congo gorilla safari

Prior gorilla trekking safari rules

Prior to gorilla trekking safari in Congo, each tourist must book a gorilla trekking permit that costs about USD400-USD450. Permit booking is best done by a local tour operator in Congo for all prior bookings.

Ensure to have a trekking stick, this is given to you as you head for the trek to help with movements within the jungle.

A maximum number of 8 tourists are allowed to trek a single group of habituated gorillas each day. This is mainly to minimize behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.

Always wash your hands before you move out to the gorillas, to reduce risk of any kind of disease spread.

Gorilla trekking activity rules

Do not make noise within the jungle, try to lower your voices. Asking your guide questions is however allowed.

Carry your camera but remember that flash photography is not allowed, so take a recommendable camera for capturing these amazing memories.

When you get close to the gorillas, these simple rules are a must observe for the good of the gorillas and the tourist.

Maintain a 7m distance away from the gorillas at all the times. The more you keep a distance, further you give them space the more they become free and comfortable with your presence.

Always remember to stay in tight groups during the whole trekking process.

Don’t smoke, drink or eat in the forest. Eating or drinking increases the risk of food/drink droplets falling, which could intensify the chances of spreading diseases.

Sometimes the gorillas can charge and become furious towards visitors. In this case, follow the ranger’s example (crouch down slowly, gorillas are shy, so do not look them directly in the eyes and do not be tempted to run as this may aggravate the situation).

Do not try to touch the gorillas, they are still wild animals.

The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become upset or frightened, the ranger guide may end the trek early.

After the trek and meeting the gorillas, keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas even with the excitement.

Join the many who take time to trek these endangered species of the mountain gorillas. The gorillas in Congo are the most peaceful jungle apes that live in the wild so raw.

 

 

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