Undoubtedly, just like all other African countries, D. R. Congo is gifted with varsity wildlife, indigenous cultures and geological phenomena that cannot easily be found anywhere else in Africa and less the world.
Safaris in Congo take tourists to meet both the mountain gorillas and lowland gorillas in their natural habitats, a cultural encounter with the ancient forest pygmies that are still practicing their traditional way of life in the jungle. Meet the bonobos and the okapi, the two rare species not found anywhere else on planet earth and also hike up various volcano summits.
But most importantly, most Congo safaris head to the eastern province which is blessed with both eastern and mountain gorilla species, which inhabit the jungle forests on either sides of River Congo. Despite frequent political conflicts, Democratic Republic of Congo as a country still offers more than just mountain gorillas. Having visited Virunga national park, Nyiragongo Mountain and maybe Idjwi Island, its time you made a safari to Kahuzi Biega national park.
Kahuzi Biega National park is a hidden gem that has been less explored yet it presents unique adventures in tranquil environment. Covering a total area of about 6000 square kilometers, the park was established in 1970. It is a UNESCO world heritage site located in eastern DR Congo covered with marshlands, swamps, bogs and tropical rain-forests that visitors enjoy while during their trip in this beautiful jewel.
Kahuzi Biega national park presents a myriad of activities and experiences to any visitor who finds their way there;
Lowland gorilla trekking
Not just your usual mountain gorillas, this park presents a principal chance to track the eastern lowland gorillas known to be the largest group of the sub-species of gorillas. Just like the mountain gorillas, lowland gorillas feature a jet black coat that turns into silver after maturity but differentiated by their huge hands, large and shorter bodies, short muzzle and shorter hair on their head.
Kahuzi Biega national park is the only destination with the biggest number of eastern lowland gorillas amounting to over 400 species divided in 9 families, all habituated though only one group is currently open for trekking. Trekking the lowland gorillas is an experience like no other, walking through the tropical forests covered with muddy grounds in search of the forest giants, having to pave your way out and avoid the thorny plants can never fail to thrill any trekker.
And finally when the gorilla family is spotted, it becomes a magical moment. It’s simply the greatest reward of all the hustles and bustles encountered in search of the forest giants. The one hour spent with them makes every step made in the trek worth it.
A gorilla permit in Kahuzi Biega national park costs 400 US dollars per person, a price so much cheaper compared to Uganda’s 600 USD gorilla permit and 1500 USD gorilla permit for Rwanda. Trekking starts in the morning with a pre-trek briefing at the park headquarters. The entire trekking experience may take between 1 and 8 hours depending on the luck, speed and the location of a particular gorilla family.
All in all, the time taken to trek lowland gorillas is highly unpredictable. All you need to carry after getting the gorilla permit is a smile, expectations, rain jacket, drinking water, camera, snacks, long trousers and hiking shoes and you are good to go.
Travelers in Kahuzi Biega national park have endless chances of spotting unique bird species. Some 347 bird species call this park home. These include, among others those on the IUCN Red list such as the Yellow-crested Helmet-Shrike, Congo Peafowl, African Green Broadbill and the Rockefeller’s Sunbird.
Hiking Mount Kahuzi
Visitors can hike up to the top of Mountain Kahuzi, located on the eastern fringes of the park, where it derives its name. At the height of 3,317m above sea level Kahuzi stands as the highest mountain in the Mitumba ranges which stretch along the shores of Lake Kivu and Albertine rift in D.R. Congo.
Hiking Mount Kahuzi exposes visitors to a profusion of unique faunal species and rare vegetation types, including wet lowland rainforest, transitional rainforest and Afromontane vegetation.
The neighborhood of Kahuzi-Biega national park contains numerous local communities that are all worth visiting, and also a town city in Bukavu exposes one to the more peaceful part of D.R. Congo. Or take a tour (weather dependent) to the remote waterfalls located outside the park.
The nearby town of Bukavu presents an array of opulent accommodation facilities ranging from shoestring budget to 5 star hotels all waiting to offer you safe and comfy stays ahead of your lowland gorilla trek in Kahuzi Biega national park.
Kahuzi Biega national park is located 20 km west of Bukavu town – the border town near Rwanda – Congo Boundary. The park can easily be accessed through Kigali airport in Rwanda and it is approximately a 6-7 hours’ drive to reach Bukavu town on a well tarmacked road, crossing via Cyangugu boarder.
Kahuzi-Biega national park can never fail any traveler at any time of the year, just book your trip to Congo’s Kahuzi Biega national park for lifelong memories.