Congo Safaris/Congo safari tours to Kahuzi Biega National Park Congo take you to a vast area of primary tropical forest dominated by two extinct volcanoes. A safari in Congo to Kahuzi Biega Park enables travelers to explore one of the biggest protected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo situated on the western bank of Lake Kivu of the Congo basin covering an area of 6000 km2 consisting of lowland terrain and mountains.
It protects a mountain forest in eastern Congo which is the most densely populated region in the amazing country. This park was gazetted in 1970 to conserve the Grauer’s Gorilla, the largest Gorilla species.
Kahuzi Biega National Park Congo remains the only place in the world where tourists can see these gorilla species in the wild. Kahuzi Biega Park was named after the two spectacular extinct volcanoes that dominate its high-altitude sector that is Mount Kahuzi (3,308m) and Mount Biega (2,790m).
This spectacular park is a safe destination as it is being managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the national park's legal status. Kahuzi Biega Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site protecting a biodiversity of flora and fauna making it one of the most important sites in the Rift Albertine Valley with green forest vegetation.
However, the most common attractions are the Eastern Lowland Gorillas which make Kahuzi Biega Park a top destination for Eastern Lowland Gorilla trekking on a Congo safari.
Estimating the number of individuals in the lowland areas of the park has been difficult because of the armed conflict that roams in that section. Their overall numbers in central Africa pale in comparison to their cousins the Western Lowland Gorillas (over 360,000) and Mountain Gorillas (1,063).
Within this park, you can see other primates like the Angolan Black Monkeys, golden monkeys, Bosman’s potto, chimpanzees, Dent’s Mona, red-tailed monkeys, and the owl-faced monkey.
This park is also located within an important Endemic Bird Area of birds identified by Birdlife International. Kahuzi-Biega has about 349 bird species including 42 endemic species like the Grauer’s Broadbill, Grauer’s warbler, Rockefeller’s sunbird, and Shelley’s Crimson wing.
Kahuzi Biega National Park remains one of the least places in DR Congo that will offer fueled adventures on your African safari.
The recent conservation outlook full assessment gave a description of values in Kahuzi Biega Park and they were world heritage values which are;
Kahuzi-Biega National Park is the largest site on the Albertine River in terms of biodiversity, endemism, and presence of threatened species. It is also the second most important after Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
There are fourteen primate species including the Grauer’s gorilla, the red-faced chimpanzee, and two endemic genets: the aquatic genet and the giant genet.
Since the park lies within an important endemic bird area, it has about 349 species including 42 endemics as these birds are identified by Birdlife International. Kahuzi Biega Park is one of a few places in Sub Saharan Africa that includes a continuum of vegetation types with rare habitats like high-altitude peat bogs and afro-alpine formations.
The park’s most iconic symbolic species is the Grauer’s Gorilla. Kahuzi Biega National Park contains almost half of the major populations of the Grauer’s Gorilla.
These Gorilla subspecies are in the endangered category as poaching for bush meat led to the reduction of many habituated Gorilla groups/families used in tourism in the high-altitude sector of the park.
Forest Elephants are also present in this park but remain highly threatened by poaching for the ivory trade.
The main forest types and biotypes of the low altitude sector of Kahuzi Biega National Park are mainly intact though there is destruction of land due to mining and subsistence farming in occupied villages.
Illegal farming has impacted the areas between the low-altitude sector and the high-altitude sector. However, the recent evacuation of almost 90% of illegal farmers made an impact to make the land free again though this action of illegal farming remains a concern.
A quick management plan needs to be worked so that there is peaceful coexistence of both people and animals with no harm to the wildlife.
Most of the large mammal species have been seriously affected by poaching within the riparian forests. The Grauer’s gorilla populations have reduced in lower altitudes but can recover if protection levels are increased in the sector.
The Grauer’s gorilla is estimated to have declined by 77% between the mid-1990s and 2016, upgrading its status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species to the critically endangered category. Conservation efforts should ensure the recovery of the global Grauer's gorilla population within Kahuzi Biega National Park.
More efforts should be made to support protected areas so that there is no significant threat to wildlife.
Major insecurity issues related to the presence of armed forces have significantly impacted the property's overall protection and management capacity, like surveillance, the safety and security of conservation staff, and wildlife monitoring efforts.
The surveillance has improved as it now covers two-thirds of the park though there remain concerns about insecurity due to the presence of armed forces. There are also illegal farms of the Batwa indigenous peoples and other local communities or local people in the ecological corridor between the high and low sections.
Wildlife monitoring remains limited due to issues of insecurity in the region and management is not able to manage the decline in population of Grauer’s gorilla and forest Elephants as a result of poaching.
However, the financial and technical support being provided makes it possible to improve management effectiveness in supporting protected areas.
Review of conservation issues and threats;
Below, the following issues represent specific threats to the ecology, conservation, and values of Kahuzi Biega National Park Congo.
Commercial hunting; bush meat commerce, involving almost all vertebrate species, is very intense and affects the biodiversity values of this park. Forest elephants are under intense pressure from ivory poachers. The Bush elephant is now rare in the low-altitude sector.
Eastern Lowland Gorillas were heavily poached during the wars and probably being hunted in the lowland regions.
War, Civil Unrest, and Military Exercises; armed groups are involved in hunting, mining for natural resources, and farming inside the park. Habitats are largely affected by mining and cultivation as many areas are occupied by rebel groups and army groups making areas a no-go zone for the Congolese National Parks Authority
Mining/Quarrying; in 2011, there was an estimation of over 918 mining sites within Kahuzi Biega Park, of which 405 involved armed groups. This damages the habitats of wildlife.
Logging/ Timber Harvesting; in 2009 it was estimated that 10% of the low-altitude sector, and 24% of the ecological corridor and high-altitude sectors were affected by illegal logging.
Agricultural encroachment; many illegal farms are within the ecological corridor and this makes it difficult to evacuate local communities in the lowland regions as they have existed before the creation of the park.
Roads/ Railways; the railway from Kisangani to Bukavu is nonfunctional meaning that there is a danger that many vehicles will be going through Kahuzi Biega National Park.
Kahuzi Biega National Park in eastern DRC has many attractions that you can see on your Congo safari trip and the most remarkable are;
Tourists visiting the DR Congo have a better opportunity to track both Mountain Gorillas and the Lowland Gorillas. Although visitors get to trek Mountain Gorillas, the Lowland Gorillas remain the top attraction.
The lowland Gorillas are an amazing species among the four Gorilla subspecies, and you can meet the Grauer’s gorillas when you go for Gorilla trekking and be with them for one full hour.
This is one of the rare sites near Kahuzi Biega Park and it is a great place for seeing Chimpanzees when on your African safari in Congo. It is a rehabilitation center for orphaned primates, especially Chimps. There are about 55 Chimpanzees and over 60 monkeys.
When visiting the park, you have a clear opportunity to explore the dazzling lake and you can enjoy a boat cruise as you visit the islands and enjoy the bird life. This lake is among the great lakes of Africa.
There are about 349 recorded bird species in Kahuzi Biega. It is a birder’s haven as you get to see endangered species like the Yellow-crested Helmet Shrike, African Green Broadbill, Rockefeller’s Sunbird, Congo Peafowl, etc.
Within the riparian forests, the river systems, and the green continuous vegetation of the Congo Basin forest, there are many wildlife species that you can spot ranging from primates and big mammals.
They include the Owl-faced monkey, Bush buffalo, Bongo, Forest Elephant, Baboons, Forest hogs, antelope species, fish fauna, etc.
These are dormant volcanoes with scenic views and offer a great opportunity for Congo hiking safaris. Mount Kahuzi is 3,317m above sea level and Biega Mountain is 2,790m above sea level.
All the information given in this portal will help you to understand the attractions, where to stay, get your gorilla trekking permit, the right Congo Gorilla trekking tour operators, what to wear, what to carry, the best time to go, and all about Lowland Gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kahuzi Biega National Park was first created in 1970 and the first Eastern Lowland gorilla trekking was done in 1973. It is a significant park with a high population of Eastern Lowland Gorillas and ranks high when it comes to Eastern Lowland Gorilla tracking.
In 1980, Kahuzi Biega National Park was listed as a heritage center and in 1997, it was listed as a World Heritage site in danger concerned the Democratic Republic of Congo government and other effective conservation organizations to try and conserve the Eastern Lowland Gorillas.
The Eastern Lowland Gorilla also known as Grauer’s Gorilla is the largest of the four Gorilla subspecies. It is notable from other gorillas by its stocky body, large hands, and short muzzle.
The eastern Lowland Gorillas are herbivores just like any Gorilla subspecies and mainly feed on fruit and leaves. Gorilla trekking in Congo is a remarkable activity that you can enjoy when in the Democratic Republic of Congo as you can encounter either the Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park or Eastern Lowland Gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park.
Since we are looking at Kahuzi Biega National Park, we shall focus on Eastern Lowland Gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega National Park a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Meeting the Eastern Lowland Gorillas in their natural habitat is remarkable and thrilling.
There are about 250 individuals within Kahuzi Biega National Park with over 12 Eastern Lowland Gorilla families though only 3 habituated Gorilla families are available for Lowland Gorilla trekking adventures.
Since Kahuzi Biega National Park is managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, you will require an Eastern Lowland Gorilla permit to trek any of the Gorilla groups in Kahuzi Biega National Park. The Gorilla permit costs USD 400 from the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation and this is inclusive of park entrance fees.
When going for Gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega National Park, you should know that it starts with a briefing from the park rangers at the park headquarters as you get to know the rules that govern Gorilla trekking in the park. The rules are the same as those for tracking Mountain Gorillas.
After, you enter into the jungle with the accompaniment of park rangers, and once you spot a Gorilla family of Eastern Lowland Gorillas, you only be in its presence for only one full hour. The experience is memorable a rewarding.
You need to purchase your Gorilla trekking permits from the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation in advance so that you avoid any inconveniences.
After Gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega National Park, you can also opt to hike the two spectacular extinct volcanoes that is Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega for a great adventure.
DR Congo has two rainy seasons with a short season starting from October to November while the long rainy season starts from mid-March to end of May.
Kahuzi Biega National Park of the few world heritage sites remains an all-year destination though tourists should go Gorilla trekking for the Eastern Lowland Gorillas and Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park.
Many tourists choose to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo between June to September to February since in these months, the amount of rain has reduced and it’s sunny in most of the destinations.
This is one of the busiest months of the year in most national parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo and it is advised to book Gorilla trekking permits in advance.
Kahuzi Biega National Park is a vast area of primary tropical forest dominated by two spectacular extinct volcanoes (Kahuzi and Biega). It has diverse wildlife/ fauna with one of the last groups of the Eastern Lowland Gorillas and this puts it on World Heritage sites.
Straddling the Albertine Rift and the Congo Basin, Kahuzi Biega National Park is an exceptional habitat for the protection of the tropical forest and the Eastern Lowland Gorillas with other mammal species.
Kahuzi Biega National Park protects 136 mammal species of which some are threatened species and others are rare species. Some of the mammal species in Kahuzi Biega National Park include the Forest Elephant, Bush buffalo, Hylochere, and Bongo.
Kahuzi Biega National Park is also an important bird area with amazing bird species. The Wildlife Conservation Society proved that there are over 349 species including 42 endemics.
This park is one of the rare sites of the sub Saharan Africa where the flora and fauna transition from low to highlands is observable. The diverse and abundant fauna of Kahuzi Biega National Park makes it a top attraction and the Eastern Lowland Gorillas for Gorilla trekking in the forest vegetation.
You can also visit the Mountain Gorillas in Virunga Park when on your Gorilla trekking tours for a remarkable experience.
There are several things you can do when you visit Kahuzi Biega National Park on your Congo safari though the most popular is Gorilla trekking the eastern Lowland Gorillas.
Gorilla trekking is remarkable as it offers as it gives sightings of the rare worldwide threatened species of the Eastern Lowland Gorillas in the lowland regions. You can combine your Gorilla trekking of the Lowland Gorillas with meeting Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park with continuous vegetation sightings.
Other Activities in Kahuzi Biega National Park include;
Chimpanzee habituation at Lwiro Sanctuary; tourists who visit Kahuzi Biega National Park have an amazing opportunity to see habituated Chimpanzees at the Lwiro Sanctuary. Tourists can enjoy the history and effective conservation works at the center.
Birdwatching; tourists who love birding in Kahuzi Biega National Park can see many bird species as the park has over 349 species within the forest vegetation.
Community/Cultural tours; offer an opportunity for tourists to see local communities or the local population of people near Kahuzi Biega National Park. You can watch dance and singing performances from local dance troupes and by this, you engage in community development.
Hiking Mountains Kahuzi and Biega; provide you with hiking adventures when you visit Kahuzi Biega National Park. Tourists can also hike to the Kibatu Waterfalls.
Boat Cruise on Lake Kivu; tourists visiting the park can opt to go on a boat cruise on Kivu Lake which is shared by the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. It can be a relaxing moment after Gorilla trekking either in Kahuzi Biega National Park or Virunga National Park.
There is no fixed price for going to Kahuzi Biega National Park as it all depends on factors like the number of people, number of days, class of accommodation, and the Gorilla trekking permit.
The gorilla trekking permit for the eastern Lowland Gorillas costs USD 400 and hiking the extinct volcanoes (mount Kahuzi or Mount Biega) costs USD 100. All these rates are per person.
You can present the Gorilla trekking permit at the park headquarters to the park authorities or park management if you are to enjoy an amazing adventure of seeing Eastern Lowland Gorillas. This heritage site has abundant fauna that you can explore like the Bush elephant and the Bush buffalo on your visit.
Kahuzi Biega National Park in eastern DRC is a protected area near Bukavu town on the western bank of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border. It is one of the protected areas under threat.
This vast area of primary tropical forest dominated by extinct volcanoes is protected by the national park’s legal status and managed by the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation.
The Kahuzi Biega National Park is threatened by the local communities who inhabit the park boundaries and have destroyed the park. They have cut down trees for domestic use and this is a very serious threat to the park and a proper management plan needs to be worked on.
There is illegal farming on the ecological corridor which destroys the natural habitat for many mammal species and a proper management plan needs to be worked on so that there is a peaceful coexistence of both natives and wildlife.
Political instability in the region that displaces people in eastern DRC into Kahuzi Biega National Park represents a very serious threat to the park leading to the decline of large mammals and a management plan needs to be in place so that people don’t crowd the park.
There is no control over poaching as people from local communities hunt wild game for meat trade which is also a very serious threat to conservation.
Kahuzi Biega National Park is also full of mining grounds and this has led to the danger of the park as it destroys the natural habitat of wildlife, especially Eastern Lowland Gorillas.
There is purely significant threat to the park as roads are being made through and many vehicles pass through Kahuzi Biega National Park. The park management is working tirelessly on all issues that are affecting the national park.
Kahuzi Biega National Park is one of the biodiverse protected areas in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo having the largest population of the Eastern Lowland Gorillas.
The Eastern lowland Gorillas are rare worldwide species and the biggest among the four gorilla subspecies and you can spot them when you go for Gorilla trekking safaris in Kahuzi Biega National Park.
This world heritage site has diverse and abundant fauna with a green continuous vegetation which makes a habitat for mammal species like the Bush Elephant and Bush buffalo usually spotted at the ecological corridor.
There are many local communities surrounding Kahuzi Biega National Park that you can visit for cultural encounters as a supplement to your Gorilla trekking adventure of meeting the Eastern Lowland Gorillas.
If you want to enjoy Gorilla trekking in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it starts with the essentials that you will be carrying for your Congo Gorilla safari in Kahuzi Biega National Park.
Our packing list will include clothes to wear for the activity and other items.
Below are some of the few items that you can pack for Gorilla trekking;
There are several Boutique hotels, villas, safari lodges, and B&Bs where you can stay when visiting Kahuzi Biega National Park for Gorilla trekking safaris.
Most of these are classified into luxury, midrange, and budget facilities.
Recommended luxury lodges include; Mikeno Lodge, Bukima Lodge, Orchids Safari Club, etc.
Popular midrange lodges include; Coco Lodge Bukavu, Hotel Begonais Bukavu, Kubumba Tented Camp, etc.
Best budget lodges include; Exodus Bukavu, Hotel Begonias Bukavu, Hotel Elizabeth, etc.
Kahuzi Biega National Park is situated just 30km from Baku town and it takes one and half hours to reach the national park.
This park can be accessed by both road and air. Tourists using air should know that from Kavuma airport and at Miti, take a left and keep going until you reach the visitor’s center.
You can go for self-drives though it is not recommended, for a better experience, choose a reliable tour operator who is knowledgeable about the local conditions.
Some of the best tour operators to use based on tourist reviews include;
1. Prime Safaris And Tours Ltd
3. Congo Gorilla Safaris And Tours
4. Africa Safaris Tours
In summary, while in Kahuzi Biega National Park you get to enjoy meeting the Eastern Lowland Gorillas a rare species during Gorilla trekking. From here, you can also visit Mountain Gorillas in Virunga Park, Maiko National Park, local communities for cultural encounters, Ituri Forest, Upemba National Park, and Okapi Wildlife Reserve on your Democratic Republic of Congo tour.
Encountering the Eastern Lowland Gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park ranks among one of the world’s premier primate encounters and its wonderful adventure to Mountain Gorillas in Virunga Park and Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda.
You can combine your visit to Kahuzi Biega National Park with climbing Mount Nyiragongo for a memorable safari experience!!