Kahuzi-Biega National Park is a secure area close to Bukavu town in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Its located near the western bank of lake Kivu and the Rwandan border and most visitors that travel to the park come from either Goma or Rwanda via Rusizi border. Kahuzi-biega is one of the biggest national parks in the country with a coverage size of 6000 sqkms. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, engraved in 1980 for its exceptional biodiversity of rainforest habitat and its eastern lowland gorillas.
The park is named after spectacular extinct volcanoes which lead its high altitude sector that is Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega and its one of the safest destinations managed by Wildlife Conservation Society. Kahuzi-Biega National Park is the new tourists' destination for travelers in Congo who enjoy looking at the eastern lowland gorillas. The park is offering the chance to admire the world's largest species of primates, and have a simple hike of the two mountains that make the national park which are the extinct volcanoes which is a key issue for conservation of the national park and the forests in Congo and the forest elephants.
Democratic Republic of Congo is well known to be a region full of mystery, and we have also come to realize that security is a primary concern for the tourists as it's also important to always stay updated on the internal issues that affect travels in the DRC. Since its not completely safe in all parts of DRC, it's advisable to use a tour operator who is very knowledgeable about the destination in terms of local conditions.
About the Geography of Kahuzi-Biega National Park
The park lies west of the Bukavu town in South Kivu Province, covering an area of 6000 km2. A slight part of the park is in Mitumba Foothill range of the Albertine Rift in the Great Rift Valley, and the greater part is in lowland terrain. A corridor of 7.4 kilometres (4.6 mi) width joins the hilly and lowland terrain.
The eastern part of the park is the slighter hilly region measuring 600 square kilometres (230 sq mi), the greater part measures 5,400 square kilometres (2,100 sq mi) and consists mainly of lowland stretching from Bukavu to Kisangani, drained by the Luka and Lugulu rivers which flow into the Lualaba River. Two dormant volcanoes are set within the park's limits and lend their names to it, that is Kahuzi (3,308 metres (10,853 ft)) and Biéga (2,790 metres (9,150 ft). The park gets an average annual precipitation of 1,800 millimetres (71 in).
The maximum temperature recorded in the area is 18 °C (64 °F) while the minimum is 10.4 °C (50.7 °F). The park was baptized after two mountains of Mt. Kahuzi (3,308m) and Mt. Biega (2, 790m) situated in the South Kivu Region, eastern chunk of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It ranges from the Congo River basin close to Itebero-Utu to the northwest of Bukavu. Around 1937, for the fortification of the Eastern Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri), the Belgian colonial administration generated the Zoological Standby of Mt. Kahuzi with an area of 750 sq. km. Since this addition, the park is comprised of two segments which is the high and the low altitude that is connected to the narrow ecological strip.
The Kahuzi-Biega National Park was celebrated as a UNESCO World Heritage in 1980. Though, enormous number of Rwandan refugees came to live in and around the Park due to the internal conflict in Rwanda in 1990-1994. Then there were two major wars in the area, the First Congo War (Nov. 1996 - May 1997) and the Second Congo War (Aug. 1998 - July 2003). Subsequently the park has been put on the tilt of World Heritage in Danger since 1997 due to the overwhelming threats and danger caused by the political instability; influx of refugees, illegal settlers, poaching, removal and burning of timber, presence of militia groups. Currently the situation has much upgraded and the park authority, the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) is working energetically to observe the gorillas and safeguard the park
Park Security of Kahuzi-Biega
Democratic republic of Congo is known to be a region full of mystery, and we have also come to realize that safety is also the primary concern for the tourists in the recent days and it's also important to always stay updated on the internal issues which might affect travel in the democratic Republic of Congo.
Since it's not completely safe in all the parts of the DRC and it's important to choose a tour operator who is knowledgeable about the local conditions. Additionally, like any other economic activity, Kahuzi Biega National Park guides take Care of Gorilla Trekkers and Hikers when in the park for any movements and never think of self-drive Safaris to Congo. Rain season is April-May and October-January. The monthly average temperature for a year in Bukavu is between 19C and 21C. The high temperature in the park would be a bit calmer than in Bukavu. It can be cool in the evening and you need a sweater or jacket.
The Kahuzi Biega National Park was celebrated as a UNESCO World Heritage in 1980. Though, enormous number of Rwandan refugees came to live in and around the Park due to the internal conflict in Rwanda in 1990-1994. Then there were two major wars in the area, the First Congo War (Nov. 1996 - May 1997) and the Second Congo War (Aug. 1998 - July 2003).
Gorilla Families in Kahuzi Biega National Park Congo
Chimanuka Family: At an estimated 30 years old, Chimanuka has a special history. Half of the gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park where Chimanuka lives were killed during the most violent part of the conflict in eastern Congo (1996-2003). Chimanuka is one of the few silverbacks who survived. He was then a solitary male but formed his own group in 2002 and rapidly acquired adult females from a neighboring group, where the silverback was not as strong. Chimanuka has since had a number of offspring, and he now leads a group of 23 individuals, with four adult females and 18 younger members.
Mugaruka Family: Mugaruka acted as the group leader, although he was not yet fully mature. In 2000 at age of 13 he became a fully developed silverback, and for the next few years defended his group successfully against several other aggressive males. On June 8th, 2000 he had a son, named Chubaka, and then several months later another called Maendeleo. With a large group of females and two offspring, Mugaruka's scarred childhood was healing into a healthy adult life. In September 2002, however he had an encounter with Chimanuka in Kahuzi Biega National Park.
Mpungwe Family: Is the young father, about 30 years' old named after a river which flows through his favourite territory, and waters the urera and myrianthus plants and trees which are the source of his favourite food. The Family is younger than Chimanuka's and has very “smooth” rostral area. His lines are not very defined perhaps slightly larger than Chimanuka. Several females currently living in Mpungwe's group were previously with Chimanuka, meaning he must have some charms.
Marhale Family: Also known as the Orphan Born in 2011, and according to park sources Mother Makali (means fiery-tempered) was killed during an interaction between Chimanuka and Mugaruka. Marhale was orphaned when very young, a little over one and a half years old, and still highly dependent on his mother. He started following Chimanuka around as if he was his mother. His hair is somehow brown (due to lack of nutritional milk from when he was orphaned, as well as stress), eyes are close together, he's somewhat stunted in growth and his limbs are short.
Mwinja Family: Commonly known as the Mum, probably late 20s has a distinctive orange-tinged fore brow. Its Name means “favorite wife” and she has at least 2 children in the family, possibly 3 youngest. Mwira, little over 1-year now is very calm. Female Good mother, keeps a close eye on her baby and sometimes seen grooming Marhale, the orphan.
Mwira Family: Also known as the Baby and youngest infant in family, just over 1-year-old outgoing and playful. Regularly solicits play from his siblings, especially Mulenge, Karibu, and Pori (closest in age to Mwira, all still with mothers). Still not quite eating adult food items and highly dependent on mother Mwinja for moving around (carried on back or belly). Owing to his age, he gets a lot of attention from other members of group.
Gorilla trekking in Congo
Gorilla trekking is a very wonderful experience that gives opportunity to tourists to have a close encounter with these gentle giants of the jungle in their natural habitat.
The Gorilla trekking safari Congo activity involves following gorillas from where they slept last nights to where you will find them either feeding or making their nests for that day.
Gorilla trekking is only done in East Africa; Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. At Prime Safaris & Tours Ltd we conduct gorilla trekking tours in Rwanda and Uganda and in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Best plans for Congo Gorilla trekking safaris
Are you planning to have a Congo gorilla trekking tour to Kahuzi Biega National Park?
We advise our clients to start planning for their gorilla trekking tour way in advance. Why do you think a Congo gorilla safari must be planned in advance? Gorilla permits must be booked 4-6 months or even a year in advance.
This will enable us for check availability of gorilla permits for the particular dates you are interested in. After booking the permits, we are then required to make payment for it. Therefore, you are advised to make deposit of some money that we shall use to purchase your permit.
After acquiring your permit, a tourist has choice to choose his/her preferred accommodation choice. This ranges in up market, mid-range or budget.
After making choice, we then send the tourist a quotation of how we shall have planned the their Congo safari so he can approve or make changes where need be.
Before Gorilla Trekking
Before tourists start their Congo gorilla trekking tours, an advanced team of rangers sets off into the forest to find where the gorillas are. They normally start from where the gorillas slept last night following their footsteps until they find them.
Rangers do this to make it easier for tourists to find them. Gorillas normally move long distance most especially if they are searching for food or water. Sometimes, if there is a fight between habituated and non-habituated gorillas, they will tend to move far and sometimes become hostile.
The work of this advanced team is to establish the state in which these gorillas will be and then, they will communicate to the Park Head Quarters to tell them where the gorillas are. Because of this, chances of seeing gorillas is approximately 95%.
During your Gorilla Trekking Safari in Congo
Most lodges provide packed lunch as booked, enough drinking water and walking sticks to facilitate your gorilla trek. By the help of your guide, tourists walk or are driven to the park headquarters for briefing about the do's and don'ts while with the gorillas.
When at the Park headquarters, you will be divided into a group of eight people because the maximum number of people to trek a give gorilla family is eight.
After dividing you into groups, a Guide takes you through the briefing session after which you are allowed to ask some questions. After briefing, tourists are driven to the starting point and off you will start your trek.
Gorilla trekking is fairly energetic so a certain level of fitness is always required because Congo Gorilla trekking safaris can take people 2 to 8 hours to find the gorillas.
Once your trekking group finds these mountain gorillas, tourists will be allowed to spend one hour with them and then return to your lodge for relaxation as you prepare for other activities of the day or the next day.
How to get to Kahuzi-Biega National Park
The park is located 40 km west of Bukavu. It takes approximately 1 to 1½ hours to drive from Bukavu to the entry of the park. Take the road going to Kavumu Airport and go left at the junction in the town of Miti. Keep moving straight until you arrive at the Tschivanga tourist center.
Beginning from Rwanda while driving on Road it takes 5 to 6 hours from Kigali town to the city of Cyangugu, also baptized Kamembe (station border of Ruzizi I). It is the nearby town to Bukavu, after crossing the two borders; it consumes one and half hour to reach the Park Headquarters and the closest lodgings in the Park.
Beginning from Goma in Congo near Virunga National Park. There is a road linking the two kivu town, it takes 5 to 6 hours driving. The surprising landscape and the company of the lac will reward you with outstanding view.
Flight Options to Kahuzi Biega
Visitors can access the park by use of international airlines that are connecting to the Democratic Republic of Congo, that is from Europe by SL BRUSSELS which departs from Brussels to Kigali and Bujumbura and the AIR FRANCE which departs from Paris to Kigali and Bujumbura.
However, there are other domestic African flights, that is from Kinshasa to Goma by AIR ZAIRE, from Goma to Kavuma (30kms) by local airlines such as the VAC TMK and then from Nairobi to Kigali by Kenyan Airways, then from Kigali to Kamembe by AIR RWANDA.
Airstrips are attainable from Rwanda to Kahuzi Biega National Park and they land in Goma and then hire a boat or car hire to take you to the park head quarter for once a life time experience in Congo with experienced Gorilla Safari Company.
An Option For You To Travel By Water
There are ferries that make up transportation from Goma to Bukavu but the most reliable is Ihusi express which takes 3-4 hours at USD $50. Then the Luxury/VIP Boat which is USD$100 per person with accommodation inclusive and it takes 6 hours with different stops for photos. There is also the speed boat that is from Goma to Bukavu which goes for USD $1500 and carries 15 pax as it goes through the Idjwi Island.