Welcome to Kahuzi Biega National Park in the eastern park of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bukavu. The park is famously known for the lowland gorilla safaris and tours in Congo. From here you can too visit the Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary and you can experience the conservation work of these primates.
About the Park
Kahuzi-Biega National Park is a protected area near Bukavu town in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is situated near the western bank of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border. Kahuzi Biega National Park was established in 1970 by the Belgian photographer and conservationist Adrien Deschryver, the park is named after two dormant volcanoes, Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega, which are within its limits. Set in both mountainous and lowland terrain, it is one of the last refuges of the rare species of Eastern lowland gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri), an endangered category under the IUCN Red List.
The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, inscribed in 1980 for its unique biodiversity of rain forest habitat and its eastern lowland gorillas. The park lies west of the Bukavu town in South Kivu Province, covering an area of 6000 km2. A small part of the park is in Mitumba Mountain range of the Albertine Rift in the Great Rift Valley, and the larger part is in lowland terrain.
Biodiversity of the park
The park is home to some of the last remaining populations of Eastern lowland gorillas in the wild. There were an estimated 600 living in the park in 1990, but there are only believed to be a couple hundred still alive after the tumultuous fighting of the 1990s and 2000s. In comparison to the western lowland gorillas, with a population of over 100,000 in Congo-Brazzaville, the total population of eastern lowland gorillas numbers at less than 4,000.
They’re also not to be confused with the mountain gorillas sought by tourists in Rwanda, Uganda, and Virunga National Park. The Eastern Lowland Gorilla is noteworthy for being larger than their western counterparts or mountain gorillas.
Accessibility to the park
The park is accessible by a decent road from Bukavu. Taxis, buses, and car hires can be made to reach the park. In order to have permission to visit, you need to contact Kahuzi-Biega National Park and request a letter of invitation. You need a letter of invitation to apply for your D.R. Congo visa. Book your airline tickets to Kigali, Rwanda (KLM or similar) and to Kamembe – Cyangugu – Ruzizi (Rwanda air) in advance. You need a copy of your paid airline e-ticket to apply for a D.R. Congo visa. You may not need a visa to visit Rwanda. When you have your visa, let Kahuzi Biega National Park know your travel dates. Fly to Kigali Airport in Rwanda it is the closest international airport.
Do not try to cross the D.R. Congo border without someone from D.R. Congo government, hopefully from the ICCN (Institute Congolais de Conservation de Nature) who run the Kahuzi-Biega National Park. If they are with you, your crossing will be smooth and quick.
Attractions in the park
Kahuzi Biega National Park is a home to the largest population of the Eastern Lowland Gorilla, and the only place in the world where you can visit them. Gorillas are the largest of the primate species, but they are also known as the most gentle and peaceful. They are also one of the closest relatives to humans, second only to the chimpanzee.
The Eastern Lowland Gorilla is a sub species closely related to the Mountain Gorilla, which resides in the mountains bordering Rwanda, Uganda and DRC. There are small differences between the two sub species. The Eastern Lowland Gorillas found in Kahuzi Biega are larger in size, with a bigger, longer face and fewer nose prints.
Birds in the park
The park features 349 species of birds including four species that are on the IUCN Red list namely; Yellow-crested Helmet-Shrike, Congo Peafowl, African Green Broad bill and Rockefeller’s Sunbird.