About Lowland Gorilla Trekking in Congo & Holidays
Due to its special rainforest biodiversity and its huge population of eastern lowland gorillas, Kahuzi-Biega National Park was in 1980 recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park’s main vision is to conserve the forest as well as the mammals, primates and the flora for the future and keep it intact for future generations to learn more about biodiversity and conservation. The Park’s name was derived from two dormant mountains - Kahuzi (3,308m) and Biega (2,790m) which are located in South Kivu Province, close to the park.
Bio-diversity and Conservation
Due to a very high population density that surrounds the park and regular civil wars, conservation has been quite challenging. Though the park contains one of the largest groups of (graueri) gorillas, up to 250 individuals contributing to over 80% of world’s total. They dwell in lower slopes, between 2,100 - 2,400 m above sea-level. In the 90’s there were approximately 284 eastern lowland gorillas living within 25 families. But since 2004 only four families of about 40 individuals each have been recorded. Other than gorillas, more animal residents in the park include straight tusk / forest elephants, numerous sub-species of monkeys as well as chimpanzees. The park is home to several species of birds as well.
The park is hub for a range of endemic flora; up to 1,178 plant species have been identified in the high altitude sector alone, and Kahuzi-Biega is one of the few destinations in sub-Saharan Africa where a full and stunning transition of vegetation stages can be found, ranging from the low altitude region at 600m to the more elevated summits of Mount Kahuzi at 3,308m.
Lowland Gorilla Trekking
Kahuzi-Biega National park is the spotlight to the biggest species of the eastern lowland gorillas in worldwide. Therefore it has become a renowned tourist destination for lowland gorilla tours. Trekking these species of gorillas usually involves hiking in the evergreen rainforests, while following numerous trails, depending on where the allocated family spent their previous night.
Lowland gorilla trekking time may range between 30 minutes and 6 hours in the interior of the jungle. Upon finding the family, you are strictly going to spend an hour interacting with the mighty creatures; learning their unique behavior patterns, lifestyle, family composition, etc. This epic hour surely provides one with a lifetime experience to tell.
Visitors to Kahuzi-Biega enjoy a nature walk in the tropical rainforest of to explore different sites, with the famous one being Tshibiti waterfalls. Take a community guide who has complete information about the entire area, conversant with different plant types in the forest and wildlife. Enjoy the sights and sweet sounds of birds perched on top of trees and the guides give clear knowledge about every wildlife inhabiting this great national park.
Volcano Hiking in Mount Kahuzi & Mount Biega
Kahuzi-Biega National Park is not just about the lowland gorillas, but also a spot for epic volcano climbing and adventure. Hiking is a perfect experience as you explore a pair of inactive volcanic mountains found within the heart of this national park. Mount Kahuzi is the highest at 3,308m above sea level while Mount Biega comes second at 2,790m above sea level.
Climbing to the peaks of these two volcanoes offer panoramic vistas of the entire Kahuzi-Biega national park, the forest, neighboring communities, northern highlands of Burundi and Rwanda. Furthermore, the bamboo and subalpine plantations that harbor mammals and primate species occupy a huge section of these two volcanoes.
Accommodation/Where to stay
Fortunately, visitors to Kahuzi Biega national park are assured of excellent accommodation facilities and good food at amazingly affordable rates. Though most lodges / hotels are located in the town of Bukavu, but the distance is quite shorter to access the park. Lodging options include Orchids safari club, Horizon Hotel, hotel begonias Bukavu, Lakeside hotel Bukavu, exodus Bukavu, and Mount Kahuzi hotel, and so many other camping grounds for backpackers. These lodges/hotels have professional, kind and hospitable staff ready to serve you with excellent services at any time of the day and night.
Joining a group tour to Kahuzi-Biega NP
When it comes to choosing a safari destination in Africa, Kahuzi-Biega National Park escapes the choice of tourists just because the world does not know much about this world heritage site. However, its unique biodiversity of rainforest habitat and its population of eastern lowland gorillas make it an excellent spot for group tours.
Though lowland gorilla trekking still takes a lion share as the park's most popular activity, group travelers find fun in hiking to Mount Kahuzi (3308 m), one of the two dormant volcanoes which are located within the park, or trek to Tshibiti waterfalls and combine it with a tour to Lwiro primate rehabilitation center, enjoy different vegetation types and wildlife, hear sweet sounds of birds, and enjoy fresh air which restores the soul.