Kahuzi Biega National Park
Kahuzi Biega National Park is one of the biggest and an important protected area that attracts a number of tourists in the Democratic Republic of Congo; located on the western bank of Lake Kivu in Bukavu. Part of the national park is found in Mitumba Mountain range within the Albertine Rift Valley while the largest part of the park is located the lowland terrain.
The park is a home to Eastern Lowland Gorillas hence making it a top travel destination for Eastern Lowland gorilla trekking experiences. Besides being a home to several primates, the park has dormant volcanoes that is to say, Mount Kahuzi & Mount Biega from which the park derived its name. Mount Kahuzi and Biega stand at a height of 3,308 meters above sea level and 2,790 meters respectively.
At first the park covered about 600 square kilometers and later it expanded to 6,000 square kilometers. In 1980, Kahuzi Biega national park was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site however in 1997, it was listed as a World Heritage Site in danger! This eventually attracted attention of DR Congo government and other conservation organizations to work together to conserve and protect the wildlife of this park especially the eastern lowland gorillas.
Other than the eastern lowland gorillas, the park has a number of wildlife such as Eastern chimpanzees, the Eastern needle-clawed galago, Maclaud’s horseshoe bat, bush buffalo, the Bongo antelope, Alexander’s bush squirrel, bush elephant, and the rare Dwarf Buffalo which can easily be identified by its reddish and tobacco color skin texture
Over 349 bird species have been recorded at Kahuzi Biega including 42 endemic species. Therefore, the national park is regarded as an Important Endemic Bird Area (IEBA) by Birdlife International.
The park is characterized by swamp and bog vegetation, marshland and riparian forests on hydromorphic ground at all altitudes.
Kahuzi Biega national park receives an average annual rainfall of 1,800 mm with temperatures ranging between 18°C and 10.4°C.
Things to do in Kahuzi Biega after Eastern Lowland Gorilla Trekking in Congo
Kahuzi Biega national park is the only national park in DR Congo where tourists can trek the famous eastern lowland gorillas in their natural habitat. It also has the highest population of eastern lowland gorillas of about 250 individuals. This specie is also known as Grauer’s gorilla and it is the largest of the 4-gorilla subspecies which include western lowland gorillas, Mountain gorillas, eastern lowland gorillas and the cross-river gorilla.
The cost of trekking permit for Eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Biega national park is USD 400 per person per trek. The experience usually begins early mornings at 7:00am with briefing sessions. Visitors are then grouped into a maximum of 8 members.
The duration for tracking eastern lowland gorillas in the park takes between 4 to 6 hours depending on their location in the forest. At times, gorillas move deep and far into the forest in search for food hence making the trekking period longer and very difficult to trackers. Therefore, you need to be physically fit to engage in this activity.
You need to pack the following items if you intend to visit the country for Eastern lowland gorilla trekking; a hat/cap, water bottle, good hiking boots, sun screen and insect repellent cream, your gorilla permit, packed snacks and lunch, camera and extra batteries among others.
Apart from eastern lowland gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega national park, you can take part in the following activities;
Chimpanzee Habituation at Lwiro Sanctuary:
Tourists who visit Kahuzi-Biega national park can go for chimp habituation experience at Lwiro Sanctuary at a cost of $ 40 per person. Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary is home to a number of chimpanzees that are orphaned or rescued from poaching and animal trafficking. Travelers who visit this primate rehabilitation center explore the rich history of the sanctuary and conservation works at the center.
Kahuzi Biega in DR Congo an ideal birding destination to spot over 349 bird species including 42 endemic species. Expect to see birds like yellow crested-helmet shrike, African green broad bill, Congo peafowl, Ruwenzori Turaco, Rockefeller’s among others during your birding safari to the park.
Camping in Kahuzi Biega National Park
Camping safaris in Kahuzi Biega national park are one of the best travel experiences you may not find anywhere in Africa. Tourists connect to nature while enjoying quality and quite time in the wilderness. You will be woken up beautiful sounds of birds whistling, chipping and singing in the morning as the sun rises above the horizons. The cost of camping in the park is $50 per day per person. It is inclusive of food and park ranger guide. Visitors who opt to camp in Kahuzi Biega national park can either carry their camping gears or hire from the park at a cost of $5 per person per night.
Hiking Mountains Kahuzi and Biega
Mount Mitumba ranges provide the iconic spot for hiking adventure tours for tourist Kahuzi Biega national park. During hiking safaris, guests move through the deep forest to explore both fauna and flora of the park. The hike also takes you to Kibatu waterfalls at a cost of $25 per person while hiking either Kahuzi or Biega costs $100 per person.
Community trips are also known as cultural tours in Kahuzi Biega national park. Visitors interact with the local community in the number of activities music, dance and drama. You may also get hands-on experience through participating in making local arts and crafts such as baskets, earrings, beads, necklaces, and clothes using locally sourced materials such as recycled paper, papyrus, sisal and Kinteges. You may as well learn to make local dishes and brew.
Boat cruise on Lake Kivu
Lake kivu is one of the best places for boat cruise holidays. The lake forms a natural boundary between DRC and Rwanda. Most guests go to relax on this water body after gorilla trekking activities in the park. The cost of boat cruise on lake Kivu is $50 per person.
How to Get to Kahuzi Biega National Park in DR Congo
Majority of safaris and tours to Kahuzi Biega national park start from Rwanda with pickups from Kigali international airport or Cyangugu town. However, some visitors opt to fly directly to Goma international airport using Ethiopian airline and later connect to the park with a help of a tour guide.
Alternatively, you may choose to board a flight from Kigali Airport Rwanda and land in Goma Airport in Democratic Republic of Congo. From Goma, you will drive for about 230km to connect to Kahuzi Biega the national park for your next activities.
Those interested in driving from Kigali Rwanda, it takes about 6 to 7 hours to connect to Kamembe in Cyangugu town via the Rusizi I road. After crossing the borders at Goma and Bukavu, you will drive for another 1½ hours to get to the national park.
Kahuzi Biega National Park is located just 30 Kms from Bukavu Town and it takes 1½ hours drive to enter into the national park. The park can be accessed by road and by air however travelers should take note that from kavumu airport and at Miti, take left and keep driving straight until when you reach the visitor centre.
Accommodation in Kahuzi- Biega National Park.
Accommodation facilities with in and around Kahuzi Biega national park range from Budget, Mid-range and Luxury. Services at different hotels and lodges can be customized to best suite your travel demands. Such hotels and lodges include; Mount Kahuzi Hotel, Lakeside Hotel Bukavu, Lodge Coco, Orchids Safari Club, Hotel Begonias and Hotel Exodus Bukavu among others.