Wildlife in Kahuzi Biega national park
Kahuzi Biega national park is a 6000 sq. km gazetted area in the eastern part of DR Congo with a number of wildlife species. The national park is located near Bukavu town on the southwestern shores of Lake Kivu. Kahuzi Biega national park is famously known for harboring endangered eastern lowland gorillas in DR Congo.
Kahuzi Biega national park comprises different vegetation covers such as rainforest, swamp, bamboo, and subalpine. The national park is home to several mammals, primates, and different bird species. There are no game drives in Kahuzi Biega national park but most of the park’s wildlife can be seen during hiking, birding, trekking, or nature walk activities.
Wildlife in Kahuzi Biega national park
Primates: The most famous primates in Kahuzi Biega national park are the eastern lowland gorillas however the park has other primate species such as olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, l’hoest’s monkeys, owl-faced monkeys, chimpanzees, Angolan black monkeys, mangabeys, golden monkeys and blue monkeys among others.
Mammals: Kahuzi Biega national park is home to over 136 species of mammal species and some of them include bush buffaloes, elephants, leopards, alexender’s bush squirrel, eastern needle-clawed galago, aquatic civet, maclaud’s horseshoe bat, giant forest hogs, giant genet, bongo, Rwenzori least otter shrew, mouse, Albertine owlet, leopards, and hippo among others
Birds: There are over 349 bird species in Kahuzi Biega national park and 42 are endemic to this region. They include levaillant’s cuckoo, long-crested eagle, tullberg’s woodpecker, African Olive Pigeon, green wood-hoopoe, White-napped Pigeon, handsome Francolin, olive long-tailed cuckoo, lemon dove, mountain buzzard, red-eyed dove, grey woodpecker, African green pigeon, barred long-tailed cuckoo, tambourine dove, grey-headed bush-shrike, Rwenzori turaco, common cuckoo, scarce swift, common barn owl, mottled swift, great cormorant, common kestrel, ayres’ eagle, yellow-billed barbet, African black swift, African emerald cuckoo, Senegal coucal, black kite, common waxbill, black-winged kite, rufous-vented paradise-flycatcher, crowned eagle, African goshawk, tawny eagle, red-faced crimson-wing, cattle egret, African harrier hawk, wahlberg’s eagle, Eurasian buzzard, hadada ibis, western banded snake eagle, red-throated alethe, ross’s turaco, white-backed vulture, mackinnon’s shrike, black-headed heron, mountain thrush babbler, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, black-billed turaco, martial eagle, rockefeller’s sunbird, variable sunbird, narina’s trogon, baglafecht weaver, blue-headed coucal, African golden oriole, petit’s cuckoo shrike, and equatorial akalat among others.
Activities to do in Kahuzi Biega national park
Eastern lowland gorilla trekking: Kahuzi Biega national park harbors the highest population of eastern lowland gorillas in the whole world. The national park has 5 fully habituated eastern lowland gorilla families that can be encountered at any time of the year. Eastern lowland gorillas are the biggest species of gorillas and they live in groups of 2 to 30 individuals headed by a silverback.
Eastern lowland gorilla trekking is the most done activity in Kahuzi Biega national park and it does start with a briefing at the park offices. Each eastern lowland gorilla family is trekked by a maximum of 8 people that are led by armed ranger guides. locating eastern lowland gorillas takes 2-5 hours and this depends on the speed of trekkers as well as the nature of terrain. Once the gorillas are found the trekkers are given 1 hour to be around the apes watch them do daily activities, learn about their habits and take photos.
Birding: Kahuzi Biega national park hosts 342 bird species of which 42 are endemic to this park. Bird lovers planning to visit DR Congo should add Kahuzi Biega national park to the list of places to visit. Bird watching activities in Kahuzi Biega national park is a guided activity where armed ranger guides lead the trekkers in the different birding spots within the park.
Some of the birds commonly seen on birding in Kahuzi Biega national park include cassin’s honeybird, grey-cheeked hornbill, cardinal woodpecker, yellow-whiskered greenbul, brown-capped weaver, red-faced crimson-wing, white-tipped crested-flycatcher, northern house martin, strange weaver, regal sunbird, white-headed wood-hoopoe, rufous-vented paradise-flycatcher, bronzy sunbird, common bulbul, golden-winged sunbird, eastern nicator, olive-bellied sunbird, chubb’s cisticola, African paradise-flycatcher, cape wagtail, green-backed woodpecker, and green-headed sunbird.
Other notable bird species in Kahuzi Biega national park are brown chested alethe, northern grey-headed sparrow, white-starred robin, golden-breasted bunting, bracken warbler, bronze mannikin, grey cuckoo shrike, white-browed crombec, grey-backed camaroptera, yellow-throated longclaw, eastern mountain greenbul, northern double-collared sunbird, blue-and-white crested-flycatcher, black-faced rufous warbler, pied kingfisher, black cuckoo shrike, African hobby, grauer’s broadbill, black saw-wing, red-faced woodland warbler, mountain oriole, and masked apalis.
Hiking: Hiking Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega is an amazing activity that travelers should engage in while in Kahuzi Biega national park. Hiking can be combined with birding or eastern lowland gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega national park. Hiking Mount Kahuzi or Mount Biega takes 4 hours ascending and 3 hours descending.
Hiking Mount Kahuzi or Mount Biega starts with a briefing at the park offices, then armed ranger guides led the hikers till they get to the summit. During the hiking activity, hikers will get an opportunity to see different park animals such as eastern lowland gorillas, monkeys, olive baboons, duikers, giant forest hogs, buffaloes, elephants, antelopes, birds, and different vegetation covers. The hike takes you through different steep slopes and rugged terrain. When hikers get to the summit, they will have stunning views of the nearby mountains, Lake Kivu, Kahuzi Biega national park, Bukavu town, and other nearby areas.
Where to stay in Kahuzi Biega national park?
There are several accommodation facilities in Kahuzi Biega national park where travelers stay for a night or more during a safari in this park. These accommodation facilities do range from budget to mid-range to luxury options such as Mount Kahuzi Hotel, Coco Lodge Bukavu, Lakeside Hotel Bukavu, Hotel Begonias, Orchids Safari Club, and Exodus Bukavu among others.
When to visit Kahuzi Biega national park?
Kahuzi Biega national park can be visited at any time of the year however there are certain months that are better than the rest. The drier months are the best for a visit to Kahuzi Biega national park because they are characterized by little or no rainfall that makes the trekking/hiking trails less muddy and dry, the vegetation is thin with clear views of the park animals, and the roads leading to the park are passable.
Travelers can still visit Kahuzi Biega national park in the rainy season of March to May and October to November to enjoy huge discounts on accommodation facilities and trekking permits. The rainy season is however faced with a lot of challenges since there is too much rainfall that makes the trekking/hiking trails muddy and slippery, the vegetation is thick with unclear views of the park animals and the roads leading to the park are impassable.