Category Archives: Congo gorilla safaris

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.

 

 

Difference between mountain and lowland gorillas

How the mountain and lowland gorillas are different?

The mountain and lowland gorillas are the largest world living primates. The gorillas survive in two different species of eastern and western gorilla with each having two other sub species. Eastern lowland and mountain gorilla are sub species of the eastern gorilla. Western lowland gorilla and Cross River gorilla are subspecies of the western gorilla.

The difference in the gorilla names

The mountain gorilla is scientifically known as Gorilla beringei beringei whereas the lowland gorilla is known as Gorilla gorilla. So, this is where the difference starts.

Mountain and lowland gorilla structure

From their names there is slight difference in their physical structure. Mountain gorillas have shorter arms, larger teeth, nose and jaw unlike with the lowland gorillas. These can only be witnessed when one opts for a Uganda gorilla safari or Rwanda gorilla trekking safari and a Congo gorilla safari for comparison.

The mountain gorilla is larger, with longer hair and shorter arms compared to the lowland gorillas. Mountain gorillas darkly colored with much thicker longer fur whereas the lowland gorillas have lighter and shorter hair.

Fur on the mountain gorillas is longer and shaggier compared to the fur of lowland gorillas which is much shorter and softer.

Elderly mountain gorillas maintain their silver fur while the elderly male lowland gorillas often lose the gray hair on their back and hips.

Mountain gorilla in Uganda

Mountain gorilla in Uganda

Gorilla habitats/where gorillas live

Still from their naming, the gorillas live in different habitats.  The mountain gorillas live in high altitudes of about 8000 – 13,000ft (1,500m-4000m) surviving in freezing temperatures while the lowland gorillas live in lower altitude tropical forest.

In East Africa, mountain gorillas are found in 3 national parks of Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda and Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. In Congo the mountain gorillas are found in Virunga national park and the lowland gorillas are found in kahuzi Biega national park.

The mountain gorillas live in thick forested lands whereas lowland gorillas live in forested lowland habitats.

The lowland gorillas are existent in the countries of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Central African Republic, and Cameroon. The mountain gorillas are on the other hand only found in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. This is why only a gorilla safari Uganda or Rwanda gorilla tour with a Congo gorilla trekking safari make the comparison possible.

The mountain gorillas predominantly live in the wild within the dormant volcanic mountains. On the other side, most of the lowland Gorillas are found in the zoos around the world. A tourist will have to trek the mountain gorillas in the wild and the western gorillas can be found in their habitat.

Lowland gorilla in Congo

Lowland gorilla in Congo

Gorilla Size

The eastern lowland gorillas are larger than the other gorilla specie counterparts.

The fully grown male mountain gorillas weigh about 180 (400Ib) and more and stands at 1.2–1.8 meters (4–6 ft) tall. The females weigh half the weight of the males, about 90kg (200Ib).

Lowland gorillas tend to be a bit smaller (unlike the eastern lowland gorillas) than the mountain gorillas. The lowland gorillas weigh between 65–180 kilograms (150–400 lbs). The females still weigh half the weigh.

Difference in Gorilla feeding

All gorillas are herbivores. Mountain gorilla feeding is more strictly based on plant material such as leaves, shoots, stems, flowers and bark from the trees.

Western lowland gorillas on top of plant material add fruits, Insects and small reptiles to their diet. The lowland gorilla will commonly be seen high up in the trees stripping tree barks and leaves for food.

Gorilla Social life/families

All gorillas are social in nature and live in groups also known as families. Mountain and eastern lowland gorillas live in large groups of up to 30-40 members.

Western lowland gorillas live in smaller groups of 4 to 8 member. Even with small groups, they still don’t live in single lives.

Just like other wild animals that are social, East Africa has numerous wildlife encountered during a Kenya wildlife safari or on a wildlife safari in Tanzania just adjacent to Uganda and Rwanda.

There is nothing so amazing like meeting the largest primate and look into its calm eyes. Plan a gorilla safari to meet these beauties of the wild.

Silverback Gorillas in Congo – Congo gorilla safari news

Silverback gorillas are a type of gorillas that are ranking 95% DNA share with humans. Besides other factors that might cut across, the population of gorillas and silverbacks in particular is drastically decreasing. This is because of the way human behavior has greatly affected their lives. We roughly have 700silverbacks left in existence. Trekking silverback gorillas in a Congo gorilla safari is one of the most exciting activities one can ever have for themselves.

Generally, the silverback gorilla habitats are tropical rain forests and mountain regions. That’s why they are sometimes called the mountain gorillas. During a gorilla trekking in Congo, you have a glimpse of the different gorilla families with a well structured social life.

Gorillas are known to be in huge numbers in central Africa. But again when it comes to the East African region particularly in Uganda, you can have a Uganda gorilla safari tour in the different national parks that are dominated in the whole country.

Gorilla family

Gorillas are known for staying in large groups of about 30 gorillas. These include a dominant gorilla normally that leads out the other males, females and the young ones. They do have different activities throughout the day that is feeding, playing and sleeping.

Gorillas are known to be the largest primates. Male gorillas are 6 times stronger than a human(man). Standing on their feet is about 6feet tall and having arms which are up to 8feet wide. Because gorillas swing from tree to tree for over a long distance, their arms grow stronger and stronger.

On a Congo safari, we learn why silverback gorillas are called silverbacks. The silverback is like a special identification from the other gorillas. Male gorillas are the ones that bare this silverback that prolongs to its thighs. A male gorilla that grows a silverback shows its sexual maturity, and also identifies it with other male gorillas.

Silverback Breeding

Usually, female gorillas give birth at 10years of age or even earlier and at this age they leave their families to go to other places. For the males, they leave their families at the age of 11years or at a later age to start other families. A gorilla’s gestation period is 9months and usually gives birth to one baby gorilla. Mother gorillas are very protective of their young ones till they grow to around 5-6months of age.

Silverback feeding

On a gorilla safari in Congo, you learn how these animals feed. Silverback gorillas feed on fruits, bamboos, tree barks, vegetation, herbs and insects occasionally. Morning and evening hours are for the gorillas to feed then the midday hours are playtime for gorillas. Gorillas have a very fascinating and interesting life that you can learn more about gorillas on a Congo safari tour.

Article by Prime Uganda safaris and tours Ltd

Silverback Gorillas in Congo – Congo Gorilla Safari news.

 

 

VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK; HOME OF GORILLA TREKKING IN CONGO – CONGO SAFARI NEWS

Gazetted in 1925, Virunga National Park has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1979, and Africa’s oldest national park. It is situated in eastern Congo and borders other major national parks in the region, like the Uganda tour destinations of Queen Elizabeth National Park and Mt. Rwenzori Park and the Volcanoes national Park in Rwanda –the main destination for Rwanda gorilla safaris.

Previously known as Albert National Park, it was established purposefully to protect the Mountain Gorillas which were threatened to extinction. The park has unparalleled landscapes of lush tropical forests, lava flows, savanna, and glaciers, and renowned for being one of the remaining natural habitats for the world’s critically endangered Mountain Gorillas which makes it a prime site for Congo gorilla safaris. Virunga currently is home to 6 habituated gorilla families and together with other Mountain Gorillas in the park, account to a quarter of the world’s Mountain Gorilla population.

 Virunga National Park is also home to other wildlife including Okapis, Giraffes, forest elephants, Chimpanzees among others. This range of fauna makes wildlife safaris in Congo diverse and rewarding. With 706 bird species of which 24 are endemic to the park, Virunga National Park presents a rich ground for birding tours in Congo.

Currently, Virunga is the best spot where one can admire the thrilling views of various mountains including Mikeno, Nyamulagira, Sabyinyo, Nyiragongo and Rwenzori Mountains. Nyiragongo Volcano is the home to world’s largest and most violent lava lake and world travelers take up Nyiragongo volcano climbing tours to look into the red lava pans at night while at the summit.

 

CONGO TOURS TO KAHUZI–BIEGA NATIONAL PARK – CONGO SAFARI NEWS

The Kahuzi-Biega National Park, also known as Parc National De Kahuzi-Biega is situated in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, 40 km away from the bustling town of Bukavu in southern Kivu province, at the south western boarder of Rwanda and is one of the outstanding Congo safari sites.

The park was established in 1970 to protect the world’s largest species of gorillas (Grauer’s Gorilla), and the destination has remained the premier refuge for these particular gorilla species in the world. It derived its name from Mt. Kahuzi and Mt. Biega, the 2 magnificent dormant volcanoes towering to an altitude ranging between 3,308 to 2,790m meters. The eastern lowland gorillas are famous primates that habour the Eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo. This positions gorilla trekking safaris in Congo to be one of the most remarkable safari experiences one can ever have while on Africa safari tour.

With numerous natural endowments, D.R. Congo is blessed with a multitude of flora and fauna making it Africa’s top ranked virgin adventure holiday destination because of its amazing attractions such as the endangered Eastern Lowland Gorillas, the Okapis and Mountain Gorillas.

Kahuzi Biega National Park is the proud home of the Eastern Lowland Gorilla also called Grauer’s Gorilla; notably the largest of all the four subspecies of gorillas differentiated by its large hands and muscular body. Despite the size of these lowland gorillas, it survives mainly on herbaceous materials and fruits just like any other gorilla subspecies. The Congo gorilla trekking safaris in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park avails you a memorable adventure safari to encounter with the few surviving Eastern lowland gorillas in Africa. However, there are currently only two gorilla groups habituated and open for trekking by visitors who desire to adventure into this park.

Besides tracking the lowland gorillas, Kahuzi Biega is also home to over 135 other species of mammals including 12 primate species, such as the eastern chimpanzees, baboons, red tailed monkey, blue monkey and others. The mammals that can be spotted here include forest elephants, civets, leopards, duikers and many antelopes.

The park is a habitat to 336 bird species making it an appropriate destination for travelers looking for birding safaris in Congo. Most birds in Kahuzi-Biega National Park are endemic to the Albertine Rift; some birds found here include the Rockefeller’s sunbird, Grauer’s broadbill, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, and Ruwenzori Turaco.

Other species to look out for are amphibians and reptiles, including 69 dangerous reptiles and 44 amphibian species; a tour to Parc national de Kahuzi – Biega will obviously leave you with an experience to remember.

 

 

 

GORILLA TOURISM IN VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK – UGANDA SAFARI NEWS

Virunga National Park also known as Parc National de Virunga in French is located in Democratic Republic of Congo and Africa’s most adorable and desirable national park that every traveler interested in Africa safari tour would like to visit in his lifetime because of the notable attractions that characterize it including the world’s critically endangered species, Mountain Gorillas always explored on Congo gorilla safaris. Inspirations drawn from this amazing bio diverse destination and due to the fact that it’s Africa’s oldest national park, Virunga National Park was incorporated under UNESCO World Heritage sites and known to be Africa’s most biologically diverse protected area.

Congo gorilla trekking tours to Virunga National Park have gained attention of recent following the wind of stability after the defeat of M23 rebels.  Virunga is now a safe haven for tourists and rewards visitors with a unique opportunity to do a safari in one of Africa’s most virgin destinations, a habitat for the endangered Mountain Gorillas and home to the stunning views of the glaciated Rwenzori Mountains not forgetting the famous Nyiragongo Volcano – with the world’s most violent and largest lava lake.

This national park is home to 25% of the world’s estimated 900 Mountain Gorillas, together with other unique species of apes, including the eastern lowland Grauers gorillas and Chimpanzees. Covering an approximate total area of 4,000 square miles, the Virunga is an amalgam of towering volcanoes, ever green forests, unspoilt savannah, undulating plains, wetlands, and the snow caped peaks of Mountain Rwenzori. Virunga is also inhabited with some distinguished animal species like the endangered Okapi that looks like a zebra but closely related to the giraffe, large colonies of hippopotami, savannah and forest elephants, lions and a diverse population of bird species. All these combine to make it an incredible destination for Congo safaris and tours.

This park is now the best possible destination for adventurous travelers to visit the once again accessible Virunga National Park to participate in the unmatched   activity. Gorilla trekking takes place in Mikeno area, close to the park headquarters about two hours’ drive from gateway town of Goma. With an early start you can visit the gorillas as a day trip from Goma with good range of descent hotels like the excellent Mikeno lodge situated close to the Gorillas habitat in lush tropical woodland with stunning views over Virunga lowlands.

The Congo Gorilla permit is apparently sold at $400 and remains the most affordable in the region and can be booked direct with the Virunga Organization or through an a tour operator like Prime Safaris & Tours Ltd.

GORILLA FAMILIES IN KAHUZI-BIEGA NATIONAL PARK – CONGO GORILLA SAFARI NEWS

Kahuzi-Beiga National Park is situated in the eastern part of Congo with an approximate distance of 40 km from the town of Bakavu in South Kivu province near the south western boarder of Rwanda and is an incredible haven for Eastern lowland Congo gorilla safaris and tours.  

This National Park offers an amazing experience of trekking the Eastern Lowland Gorillas limited in range to the dense tropical forests of Democratic Republic of Congo. Kahuzi-Beiga National park is a UNESCO world heritage site with up to 250 members of the endangered Eastern Lowland Gorillas. Some of these have been habituated for travelers experience during gorilla safaris in Congo.

Kahuzi-Beiga National Park has a total of 9 gorilla families with only 4 habituated groups which are explored during Lowland gorilla trekking in Congo.

Chimanuka family

This family is habituated with 37 members, including 17 females and 19 babies and a head silverback Chimanuka where the group derives its name. This family is famous for having four sets of twins which has never been seen in any family of the eastern gorilla population.

Mugaruka gorilla family

The Mugaruka family has only one member that is Mugaruka. The two habituated families, Chimanuka and Mugaruka are the most loved by trekkers because of easy accessibility. Unfortunately, he also lost one of his hands to poacher’s trap. It now lives a lonely life following the conquering of his females and infants to Chimanuka family.

Mankoto and Mpungwe gorilla families;

These two families are currently under habituation process to make the number of fully habituated families to four.

Trekking Eastern Lowland Gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega National Park commences with a morning briefing from the head guides about basic regulations to adhere to during the gorilla tour. Visitors are expected to put on masks that don’t transmit cough or cold to the gorillas and hiking gears like boots, rain jackets, camera gargets and packed food.

Trekking begins from Tshivanga Park headquarters and lasts 1 to 6 hours depending on the movements of the allocated gorilla group. The allocated time is strictly one hour after finding the gorillas. The visitors planning a gorilla safari to Congo can book the Lowland gorilla permit with Kahuzi Biega National Park directly or through an agent like Prime Safaris and Tours Ltd. The permit costs $400.

 

Eastern Lowland Gorillas; Congo’s special offering

The Eastern lowland Gorillas also known as Gorilla beringei graueri thriving in Kahuzi Biega National Park comprise one of the incredible special primate species explored on Congo safaris and tours.

Recorded to be the largest of all gorilla sub species, the Eastern lowland gorillas are marked with large hands, short muzzle and stocky body. This difference is clearly visible when one combines Mountain Gorilla trekking in Uganda Rwanda Congo and Lowland Gorilla trekking in Congo.

The weight of a male Eastern Low land Gorilla is 204 – 250kg but some can weigh up to 272kg and more. These gorilla sub species like other groups feature sexual differences and the females can weigh a half of the male’s weight. In height, the Eastern lowland gorillas rise to around 1.76 – 1.94cm for males while females stretch to 1.6m or below.

The Eastern lowland gorillas posses short hair on the body compared to Mountain Gorillas because their environment is a bit warm compared to the later which thrive in the Mist Mountains. However, their dietary composition is more less the same including of herbs and fruit among others. All adult males in both groups feature a silver patch as always explored on gorilla safaris in Congo Africa.

The Eastern Lowland Gorillas greatly thrive in the Congo safari destinations of Kahuzi Biega National Park, Usafa forest, Maiko National Park, Itombwe massif and Tayna Gorilla Reserve. However, at the moment, organised lowland gorilla trekking safaris in Congo are only carried out in Kahuzi Biega National Park in the South Kivu province where some groups have been habituated.

The Eastern low land gorillas are considered Congo’s special offering because Uganda gorilla safaris and Rwanda gorilla safaris can only offer the sights of Mountain Gorillas and not the former.

 

WHERE TO STAY DURING GORILLA TREKKING SAFARIS IN CONGO – CONGO GORILLA SAFARI NEWS

Thinking of a Congo gorilla Safari tour? With the return of peace and security in the Eastern part of this country,   Congo gorilla trekking tours are very interesting like never before. D.R. Congo presents amazing gorilla trekking safaris in only 2 National Parks, Virunga and Kahuzi Biega National Parks which are home to both Mountain and Eastern lowland gorilla species respectively.

The neighborhood of these national parks is dotted with bustling and steadily developing towns which are the main business centers that serve the tourism destinations. The Goma town is located 20kms away from Virunga National Park and other attractions such as Nyiragongo volcano and Rwenzori Mountain ranges.

On the other hand, Bukavu town is conveniently situated on the fringes of Kahuzi-Biega National Park and presents one of the best luxurious accommodation facilities in the region. The town serves as the main gate way for visitors going for lowland Congo gorilla tours in Kahuzi-Biega National Park.

Both towns and Parks themselves present a myriad of hotels and safari resorts that serve as accommodation and camping centers for gorilla trekkers in these respective gorilla destinations.

Some of the lodges that serve these gorilla destinations in Congo include the following;

Mikeno Lodge is high end facility that serves visitors going for Congo gorilla safaris in Virunga National Park and the famous Nyiragongo volcano climbing adventure in Congo. Mikeno lodge is a gem within Virunga National Park that will make your gorilla tour in D.R. Congo a memorable. With its spacious bungalows, luxurious and private accommodation, the lodge will definitely make your stay a memorable one.

Bukima Tented Camp; this relatively high end facility close to the starting point for gorilla tracking in Virunga National Park, offering a wonderful start for gorilla trekking adventure in this famous park.  One unique quality about this facility is the wonderful views it offers from inside the tent and elsewhere around the camp. The views of Mt. Mikeno towering to an altitude of over 4,437m, Mount Nyamuragira and Nyiragongo summit are clear in the evenings and during clear skies in the morning.

Kibumba Tented Camp close to Kibati positioned for both Nyiragongo hike and Gorilla trek while the Mountain shelter at Nyiragongo volcano caters for those on Nyiragongo volcano hiking tour. Lulimbi Tented Camp in central Virunga is set to open in Jan 2018 and will serve the travelers interested in exploring the park’s savannah stretches and their beautiful wild game.

From Goma town, the guests can look out for Hotel Ihusi a good midrange close to Rwandan border and Cap Kivu Hotel.

Kahuzi Biega National Park is still faced with accommodation challenge and the travelers on Safari in Congo are limited to only one Luxury facility called The Orchids’ Safari Club. The budget travelers can check out simple guesthouses in Bukavu town.

 

 

Habinyanja Gorilla Family – Uganda Gorilla Safari News

The Habinyanja gorilla family is one of the three available gorilla families habituated back in 1997 for human experience for Uganda Gorilla Safari travelers to Buhoma region of Bwindi forest national park Uganda. The group received its first Uganda Gorilla Trekking visitors in 1999.

The family has 18 members with two silverbacks, and it derives its name Habinyanja from a local word “Nyanja” literally meaning body of water or lake. It denotes the swamp in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where the group was seen first.

Back in the 1997, by the time the group was habituated, it was led by Mugurisi (literally meaning Old man), the dominant Silverback. Due to old age, Mugurusi passed away, and his two sons, Rwansigazi and Mwirima shared power but they were so incompatible that it could not stand the test of time.

Rwansigazi was an adventurous gorilla and liked travelling, while Mwirima liked small range stay. It is no wonder that the two silverbacks resolved to split in 2002 in order to avoid fighting. The group that followed Rwansigazi maintained the name Habinyanja and the members who stayed with Mwirima came to be known as the Rushegura family.

Later, Rwansigazi had to cede leadership to Makara who is now the dominant silverback of the family of Habinyanja. Occasionally, two clusters still encounter each other but co-exist in harmony.

Uganda Safari Visitors tracking this family need about 3 – 8 hours since the group likes covering a wider range thus it is advisable that when considering Accommodation in Bwindi National Park, a lodge in Buhoma section of Bwindi Park should be considered first. Alpha female called Kisho is the leader of the adult females.

More mountain gorilla families can be tracked on Africa safari Tours and specifically on either Congo gorilla safaris tours and even Gorilla safaris in Rwanda, as these three countries are the only ones in the world that have the only remaining mountain gorillas in the wild.

 

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