Kahuzi Beiga National park is one of the globally significant protected areas in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The park recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1980, it is a habitat for the last remaining population of about 250 eastern lowland gorillas (gorilla berengei graueri) which are endangered and endemic to Congo.
The park covers about 6000 sq km stretching into the Congo basin and Albertine rift valley. This unique location makes kahuzi beiga one of the ecologically richest African parks. There are 2 extinct volcanoes- Mount Kahuzi and Mt. Beiga rising above 2,000 meters providing an array of habitats in which diverse flora and fauna can be found. Vegetation ranges from sub –alpine vegetation, afro-montane vegetation, bamboo forests and lowland tropical forests and woodlands, swamps and marshlands. In terms of flora, the park is very rich containing plants 1,178 plants.
Wildlife is very diverse in addition to eastern lowland gorillas, the park is home to 136 species of mammals including forest elephant and buffalo, 13 species of primates including chimpanzee, 349 species of birds including 42 which are endemic to Congo basin. This is one of the best destinations for primate safaris in Africa.
Eastern lowland gorillas
Eastern lowland gorilla also known as grauer’s gorillas is one of the 4 subspecies of gorillas. Their population is estimated to be around 2000 to 5000 most of which live outside the protected areas. They are differentiated from the western gorillas and mountain gorillas by their unique features. Eastern lowland gorillas have longer faces, dark hair, boarder chest; they are the stockiest and largest apes. A male eastern lowland gorilla on average weighs up to 160 kgs and stands at a height of 1.6 meters.
Tracking eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Beiga National Park
Eastern lowland gorillas are the main attractions with about 250 individuals found in in the park. At least 2 gorilla families have been habituated, Kahuzi Beiga offer travelers the opportunity to track the gorillas while exploring the forest on foot with rangers. Visitors will get to see the giant eastern lowland gorillas in their natural habitat; definitely exciting wildlife encounter. The gorilla rules are similar to Uganda or Rwanda, but the only exception is that visitors here wear mouth masks to reduce the spread of respiratory infections. Viewing gorillas is limited to 1 hour and visitors are supposed to maintain 7 meters distance. Though it can be difficult to keep, your guides make it easy for you to get up close or maybe get a surprise tap from the playful gorilla.
The trails are not challenging but will lead you through thick vegetation making the trek even more adventurous. Take a safari into the remote forests of DR Congo and step into the world of eastern lowland gorillas. DR Congo gorilla permit cost is $400 and booking can be any time of the year.
Other activities to do in the park
In addition to eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Biega national park, there are hikes to Mount Kahuzi and nature walks to the Tshibati waterfalls.
Hiking through the evergreen forests, and rugged trails, visitors can witness the magical beauty of Kahuzi Biega national park. Mount Kahuzi standing at 3308 meters above sea level, a trek to its summit will introduce you to the flora and fauna and you will see stunning views of the Congo basin, the second largest rainforest in the world after amazon.
Best time to visit the Park
Kahuzi Beiga lies south of the equator and within the Albertine and Congo basin rainforest, it experiences a tropical climate with two seasons in a year – the dry season and the rainy season. The dry season from December to February and June to September are the best months to visit for gorilla tracking. Because there’s little rainfall which means that hiking on foot is not difficult due to dry trails in the forest. The dry season is also a fruiting season and eastern lowland gorillas love fruits, you could be lucky to see those climbing trees.
How to get there
Kahuzi Beinga national park is located in Eastern DR Congo close to western Rwanda border Ruzizi. Travelers can therefore fly to Kigali airport than to DR Congo’s capital Kinshasha. The park can be reached by road from Kigali Rwanda which takes about 5-6 hours’ drive. Across the Rwandan border lies Bukavu town at the edge of Lake Kivu which is very close to Tshivanga the park’s entry gate. Alternatively
Where to stay
Accommodations ranging from budget to luxury lodges are found mainly outside the park in the town of Bukavu located at the shores of Lake Kivu. From Bukavu town is just a short drive to the park visitor center where visitors can find camping facilities.
- Orchid safari club
- Horizon Hotel
- Coco lodge hotel Begonias Bukavu
- Exodus Bukavu
- Mount Kahuzi hotel
- Lake side hotel