When it comes to choose a safari destination in Africa, the Kahuzi-Biega National Park escapes to the choice of tourists just because the world does not know much about this world heritage site. The Kahuzi-Biega National Parkis a protected area situated East of the Democratic Republic of Congo, 50 kilometers West of Bukavu town, near Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border. The park is named after two dormant volcanoes, Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega which are part of the Mitumba mountains chain. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, inscribed in 1980 for its unique biodiversity of rainforest habitat and its eastern lowland gorillas
Why should tourists visit the Kahuzi-Biega National Park? What does the Kahuzi-Biega National Park have to offer?
#1. The park is the only place where you can track the endangered species of Eastern Lowland gorillas.
Kahuzi-Biega National Park is a refuge of the highly endangered Eastern Lowland (the Grauer’s gorillas). The only destination in Democratic Republic of Congo that has Eastern Lowland gorillas. These are not to be confused with the Mountain Gorillas sought to by tourists in the Virunga National Park, Rwanda and Uganda. Watching these marvelous creatures in their habitat is a life changing experience offered by Kahuzi-Biega National Park.
# 2.Gorilla habituation experience
The Park has over 12 Gorilla groups but so far only four gorilla families are habituated for trekking in the Kahuzi-BiegaNational Park. The park rangers continue to habituate gorillas’ families and on request you can participate in the process and experience a small dose of adrenaline during the tracking.
# 3. More cool things to do in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park
While gorilla trekking may be the park’s most popular attraction, visitors may hike Mount Kahuzi (3308 m), one of the two dormant volcanoes which are located within the park. When hiking Mount Kahuzi, trekkers go through bamboo forest and sub-alpine vegetation, which harbor various animals, providing trekkers a chance to encounter animals such as owl-faced monkeys and a variety of birds. The summit of Mount Kahuzi (3308 m) offers great views of Bukavu and Lake Kivu. The ascent takes 4 hours, the descent is approximately 3 hours.
The summit of Mount Bugulumiza (2400 m) is easily accessible via a 6 km trail from Tshivanga Visitor Centre and takes about 3 hours round-trip. The summit offers great views of Lake Kivu, Mounts Kahuzi and Biega along with the surrounding forest landscape.
Visitors may also go for a nature walk in the park, enjoy different vegetation types and wildlife, hear sweet sounds of birds singing up in the trees and enjoy fresh air which freshens the mind. Or take the Tshibati waterfalls trail which has three magnificent waterfalls located near the Lwiro Primate Rehabilitation Centre.
# 4. Visit to Lwiro Sanctuary: unique and rich in biodiversity
Lwiro Sanctuary is one of the unique sanctuaries for its rich biodiversity. It has more animals and different species than other sanctuaries in Africa. As the only sanctuary in the region, it plays a crucial role in supporting conservation measures in the region. The sanctuary was started in 2002 by the Lwiro Primate Rehabilitation Centre’stwo government partners due to the increasing number of primates in the region, confiscated from the illegal wildlife trades by authorities.It provides care and rehabilitation for orphaned primates, while working to ensure their survival in the wild. For those interested in the veterinary field, the Center has a capacity building in wildlife health management program. Visitors can visit the activities of the program. Located close to the Kahuzi-Biega National Park, a visit to the sanctuary can be easily combined with a Gorilla trek in a day trip from Bukavu.
# 5.Support conservation
Presently, tourism accounts for one quarter of theKahuzi-Biega National Park revenue and represents a considerable source of financing in favor of conservation and the national Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) budget.
Following an improvement in the tourist management and infrastructure, the number of tourists in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park is increasing since the past five years. This growth has been in part supported by an immigration agreement allowing tourists to receive a visa at the border to come see the gorillas.
Fees and permits
When a gorilla permit costs 1500$ in Rwanda, 600$ in Uganda, it costs 400$ per person in DR Congo. The following prices are for foreign nationals. However Congolese along with expatriates and nationals of CEPGL, EAC and SADC member countries pay lower rates (with passport and proper residence or work visa):
- Gorilla trekking: US$400
- Mountain ascents (Mount Kahuzi, Mount Biega and Mount Bugulumiza): US$100
- Hiking and waterfalls: US$35
- Lwiro sanctuary: US$ 30
The Kahuzi-Biega National Park is much easily accessed through Kigali. Book your airline tickets to Kigali/Rwanda in advance. You need a copy of your booking airline e-ticket to apply for a D.R. Congo visa, which costs $100 for a single entry.
The drive from Kigali to Bukavu town may take around 6 hours with a stop-over for lunch. Travelers are advised to seek accommodation in Bukavu town as there is not accommodation near the park except Camping site at the park headquarter (new bungalow lodge will be available at the park headquarter soon).
Ubuntu Voyages offers you a stress-free travel to Kahuzi-Biega National Park by taking in charge your bookings (permit, accommodation, transportation) and visa inquiry.