The Kahuzi Biega National Park (KBNP) is located in South Kivu province, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It was established in 1970 primarily to conserve the Eastern Lowland Gorilla (also known as Grauer’s gorilla). An IUCN Category II National Park, KBNP is considered the most important single site for the species. It remains the only place in the world where visitors can see these gorillas in the wild.
Originally 600 km2, the park size was increased to 6,000km2 in 1975. The name Kahuzi Biega comes from the two spectacular extinct volcanoes which dominate its high altitude sector, Mont Kahuzi (3,308m) and Mont Biega (2,790m).
This blog documents the efforts being made to rebuild a park that in the 1970s and 80s received thousands of visitors every year. In addition to conservation, planned initiatives include product development and diversification, both within the park and in its neighbouring communities, training of park staff, habituation of new gorilla families and eventually of chimpanzees, a new pricing strategy, and coordination of private sector activities in order to facilitate all visits to the region.
Visiting the Eastern Lowland Gorillas at Kahuzi Biega is a truly unforgettable experience.
Just before the entrance to the park is the Tshivanga Visitor Centre. You will be greeted by park staff that will assist with payment and registration. Make sure you take a photo with the large gorilla statue while waiting for trackers locate the gorilla family. Once the location is confirmed you will begin to drive into the park.
Your guide will give you a short introduction before starting the forest hike. He will cover the history, geography and some facts about the gorilla family you will be visiting. The guide will also provide you with advice on how to behave when with the gorillas.
Following the briefing you begin your journey along narrow jungle paths to meet the gorillas. Masks are worn to prevent gorillas from catching human disease. The length of this hike depends on the location of the gorillas. Some days they can be a 10-15 minute walk from the road, other days it can take over an hour of walking to reach the gorillas.
What to Bring:
1. Sturdy boots or shoes for walking in the forest (Wellington Boots can be purchased in Bukavu)
2. Long pants to wear when hiking
3. Rain Jacket
5. Camera (no flash photography allowed)
6. Snacks or a Picnic Lunch
While most visitors come to Kahuzi Biega for Gorilla trekking, hiking and camping within the park is a great way to explore the amazing mountain environment. You will have the chance to see a variety of animals including the Owl Faced Monkey, Chimpanzee and an array of different birds.
This is the highest peak in the park, at 3,308m. The climb takes approximately 4 hours through bamboo forest and sub alpine vegetation, and 3 hours to descend. The summit provides spectacular views of Lake Kivu and the city of Bukavu.