Kahuzi-Biega is located near the western bank of lake kivu and the Rwanda border near bukavu town in the eastern democratic republic of Congo. The park is named after two dormant volcanoes; mount kahuzi and mount Biega that are within its limits. It was established in 1970 by a Belgian photographer and conservationist adrien Deschryver. It covers an area of 6,000 square kilometers and is one of the biggest national parks in the country. Kahuzi-Biega national park, located in both mountainous and lowland terrain, is one of the last refuges of the rare species of Eastern lowland gorilla an endangered category under the IUCN Red list.
What to expect on a visit at Kahuzi-Biega National Park
Flora and Fauna
Over 1,178 plant species, 136 species of mammals and 349 bird species can be found at the park.
The park is very rich in flora variety ranging from swamps, bogs, marshland to riparian forests on hydromorphic ground at all attitudes that are very rare in the world. Dense Guineo-Congolian wet Equatorial rainforests can be seen at the western lowland sector of the park. Continuous forest vegetation also covers the Eastern mountainous sector of the park, which is also one of the rare sites in Sub Saharan Africa. This vegetation includes six distinguishable primary types; swamp and peat bog, swamp forest, high attitude rainforest, mountain rain forest, bamboo forest and subalpine heather. The general altitude of the mountains is up to 3,308 meters (10,853 ft.).
The park has got over 136 species of mammals. Of these, the Eastern lowland gorilla is the most prominent. By 2008, the park had 125 lowland gorillas. However this was a marked reduction from 600 gorillas prior to the 1990s conflict period. A census survey done by the wildlife conservation society reported 181 eastern lowland gorillas in the park by April 2011.
Other animal species in the park include the eastern chimpanzee, several cercopithecinae and owl-faced monkey. Others include the bush elephant, bush buffalo, hylochere and bongo, Aquatic civet, eastern needle-clawed galago, horseshoe bat, Ruwenzori least otter shrew and Alexander’s bush squirrel.
Other species as listed under the IUCN Red List as threatened in the park include; African forest elephant, Albertine owlet, mountain Kahuzi climbing mouse, lowland bongo, hippopotamus, giant forest hog, leopard, olive baboon. Others are; yellow-crested helmet-shrike, Congo peafowl, African green broadbill and Rockefeller’s sunbird.
How to get to Kahuzi-Biega National Park
The park is located 30km from Bukavu town, it will take you one and a half hour drive to enter into the park. The park can also be accessed by air. From Kavumu airport and at Miti, take left and keep going straight until you reach the visitor center.
Gorilla trekking in the park will require you securing the gorilla permit, it costs USD 400. This will enable you to enjoy a visit to various gorilla families.
Security around the park
Due to mysterious security conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the fact that security is the primary concern of tourists, it is important to stay updated on the internal security issues, which might affect travel into the country. Basing on that, it is advisable to choose a tour operator who is knowledgeable about the local conditions. Avoid taking self-drive safaris to Congo. Good enough, Kahuzi-Biega National park guides take care of gorilla trekkers and hikers when in the park for any activity.
What to carry for gorilla trekking
Basically the African clothing wear will enable you have a memorable safari adventure with the gorillas in the park.
Where to sleep
Camping is offered by park to budget travelers and visitors. Camps are available at the park headquarters in Lwiro. Away from camps, affordable and well-furnished lodges can be accessed at Bukavu town, the nearest located south of lake Kivu.
We believe that a trip to Kahuzi-Biega National Park will offer you a lucrative lifetime opportunity that will enable interact with these various flora and fauna species in the park. You should not miss an encounter with the rare lowland gorillas, unique birds, mountain hiking and a variety of most of African animal species. Come and explore nature at its best.