Gorilla Trekking in Kahuzi Biega National Park

Gorilla Trekking in Kahuzi Biega National Park: Gorilla Trekking has been one of the world’s most exclusive and highly sought-after wildlife encounters on the African continent. It is a very unique experience that can only be done in Africa; with countries like Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo being the top destinations in the world for gorilla trekking safaris.

Gorilla Trekking in Kahuzi Biega National Park

Gorilla trekking in Kahuzi-Biega national park offers tourists a unique primate experience as you will have an opportunity to track rare eastern lowland gorillas. They are the biggest of all gorilla sub-species and can easily be distinguished from the rest.

Gorilla Trekking in Kahuzi-Biega National Park.

Gorilla trekking in Kahuzi-Biega national park is fast rising with visitors having the option to trek both east lowland gorillas and also mountain gorillas; or either of the two subspecies. However, most tourists choose to trek eastern lowland gorillas while on a visit to this national park.

In the early 1970s, eastern lowland gorillas, also known as Gorilla Beringei Graueri, were the first sub species of gorillas to be tracked by tourists in the national park. There are two habituated gorilla groups in the national park; Chimanuka and Mpungwe. These gorilla groups were first habituated by a Belgian photographer and conservationist named Adrien Deschryver, along with his team of well-trained Congolese staff. The above mentioned gorilla groups were led by dominate silverbacks called Casimir and Mushamuka, which were also habituated. The Silverback Casimir, died in 1974, due to health problems.

There were four habituated gorilla groups in Kahuzi-Biega national park by 1980.  These were led by Silverbacks; Mushamuka, Ninja, Mahesh and Mubalala. Gorilla trekking activities in the national park increased in 1988, after the release of the movie ‘Gorillas in the Mist.’ However, all four of the above mentioned silverbacks; along with majority of members of their groups, died in the civil wars that occurred in Congo, starting in the mid-1990s. These wars created a lot of political instability in the areas within and surrounding the national parks, thus leading to the decline in tourism activities in the national park.

However, the political situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo has greatly improved, as well as in the national park. The Highland sector of the national park has greatly improved, thus making it safe for visitors to engage in gorilla trekking activities in the national park. In addition to this, a second gorilla group led by a silverback called Mpungwe has successfully been habituated. This habituated gorilla group consists of 17 members, and tourists are free to track it.

As earlier mentioned, there are only two habituated gorilla groups/families in Kahuzi-Biega. Gorilla trekking in Kahuzi-Biega national park in Congo involves a lot of hiking activities, and may require visitors to be in excellent physical shape.

Gorilla trekking in Kahuzi-Biega national park in DR Congo is done in two groups, each consisting of a maximum of 8 members. Each gorilla trekking group of tourists is accompanied by an armed and well-trained park ranger, just to ensure the safety of both tourists and the gorillas.

Visitors doing gorilla trekking in Kahuzi-Biega national park in Congo should be aged 15 years and above. Gorilla trekking activities in the national park can last between 2-4 hours, with tourists getting to spend only an hour with the gorillas once they have been located. The location of the eastern lowland gorillas depends entirely on the availability of food in the areas where they are staying. From mid-October till August, the tracking time can vary between 20 minutes to 2 hours; while in the month of September, gorilla trekking activities can take about 3 hours or even more.

All gorilla trekking activities in Kahuzi-Biega national park in Congo commence at 7am. Tourists trekking gorillas in the national park are briefed first by the head ranger at the park. Visitors are then placed into two tracking groups. All gorilla trekking activities begin from Tshivanga Station in Kahuzi-Biega.

Cost of Gorilla Trekking in Kahuzi-Biega National Park in Congo.

Gorilla trekking permits in Kahuzi-Biega national park cost USD 400 dollars per person. However, during the low seasons in the park, the price of gorilla trekking permits in Kahuzi-Biega can go for a low as USD 200 dollars per person. With the cost of gorilla trekking permits being this low, gorilla trekking in the national park has increased greatly; with more tourists opting to do gorilla trekking in Congo, as compared to Rwanda and Uganda.

Where to stay when doing gorilla trekking in Kahuzi-Biega National Park in Congo.

There are plenty of accommodation facilities to choose from for gorilla trekkers visiting the park and some of these include; Mount Kahuzi Hotel, Lakeside Hotel Bukavu, Exodus Bukavu, Hotel Begonias, Lodge Coco and Orchids Safari Club among others. These accommodation facilities offer budget, mid-range and luxury lodging depending on what you may prefer.

How to Get to Kahuzi-Biega National Park in DR Congo.

Kahuzi-Biega national park in DR Congo can be accessed by means of road, air, or water. Most visitors will have to travel to Kahuzi-Biega through Rwanda or fly directly to Goma in Congo.

Travelling to Kahuzi-Biega by Road.

Those travelling by road will have to drive 40km west of Bukavu town, which take about 1½ hours to get to the national park. It takes about 5-6 hours of driving to get to Kahuzi-Biega from Goma town.

Travelling by Air to Kahuzi-Biega national park.

Tourists can also choose to fly from Kigali International Airport in Rwanda, and land at Goma International Airport. From here, visitors can embark on a 6 hours’ drive to the national park.

Accessing the park by water.

Alternatively, visitors can access the national park by water. There are speed boats available to transport visitors to Kahuzi-Biega national park. This can take about 3 hours to reach the park. There are also ordinary boats that tourists can use to reach the national park, although this option can take approximately 4-5 hours to get to the park.

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