Trekking to see Eastern Lowland gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is conducted in the Kahuzi Biega National Park where a section of Eastern lowland gorillas thrive from. Kahuzi Biega National Park is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites and hosts over 250 endangered Eastern Lowland gorillas. This protected area is named after the two dominant volcanoes ‘Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega’ and it sits in an area about 6000sq.kms. In DR Congo, the Eastern Lowland gorillas thrive in Kahuzi Biega National Park and Maiko National Park. Kahuzi Biega National Park is managed by the Congolese Wildlife Authority and Wildlife Conservation Society after it was re-opened in 2015.
Treks to see the Eastern Lowland gorillas in the two habituated groups in Kahuzi Biega National Park. They include Chimanuka gorilla group which consists of 19 members and Mugaruka gorilla family that is led by Mugaruka silverback.
When to go for Eastern Lowland gorilla trekking?
Eastern Lowland gorilla trekking can be done at any time of the year. However, the dry and wet season are two essential seasons any traveller planning to visit DR Congo to trek eastern lowland gorillas should be put into consideration. Each of these seasons has its own impacts. The wet season affects visitors’ experiences however, it is possible for you to continue trekking to see the Eastern Lowland gorillas.The wet or low season occurs in the months of March, April, May and October, November. Lowland gorilla trekking during the wet or rainy or low season is advantageous in that some safari lodges or hotels cut down on the cost of their accommodation as a way to attract more tourists. Kahuzi Biega National Park is best to visit for Eastern Lowland gorillas. The dry season occurs in the months of January and February, and from June to September.
Rules and regulations for eastern Lowland gorilla trekking
The set rules and regulations to observe during Eastern Lowland gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega National Park are similar to those for mountain gorilla trekking. They include; the only one hour is given to visitors to observe, explore the daily behaviours of these incredible wild creatures as you will also be maintaining a distance of about 5 to 7 meters, only 8 visitors are allowed to track 1 habituated family each day and your health is also vital if you are planning for a congo safari to Kahuzi Biega National Park. For more information about the rules and regulations or any park-related information please contact your travel agent in Congo. Your travel agent can also help you book your gorilla permits or find the park tariffs and any assistance for tourist visa applications.
Cost of Eastern lowland gorilla permits
The hike to see the Eastern Lowland gorillas requires you to have a valid permit. Each Eastern lowland gorilla trekking permit costs $450 per person. You can book your gorilla permit once you visit the park or do so early before the actual trek.
What to pack for eastern lowland gorilla trekking
When considering what to pack for trekking to see Eastern Lowland gorillas in Congo include good and waterproof daypack, bottled drinking water, insect repellents, waterproof hiking boots, garden gloves, light rain jacket, long-sleeved shirts or T-shirt, good cameras and extra batteries or lens.
Accommodation in and around Kahuzi Biega National Park
The available accommodation options for your overnight stay in Kahuzi Biega National Park range from budget, campsites, safari lodges, holiday inns to guest houses. In Bukavu, you can opt for L’Orchids Safari Club-a luxury accommodation alternative which is set along the scenic Lake Kivu, Coco Lodge-a mid-range with double bed, Exodus Bukavu hotel for the budget visitors. Camping services are provided at the park headquarters.
How to get to Kahuzi Biega National Park
Kahuzi Biega National Park is a 40km drive from Bukavu Town, about 1 and half hours’ drive. It can be reached by air and water; by air, you can fly to Kavumu Airport or Miti, then take your left and keep moving straight till you arrive at the visitor centre (Tschivanga).
The park is easily accessible by international flights, for example, if you are on a guided or self drive safari in Tanzania and you want to extend your trip to Congo for Lowland gorilla trekking, you can fly to Dar-es-salaam or Kilimanjaro airport to Kigali International airport in Rwanda, and then take an internal flight to Rusizi border or Kamembe Airport then cross to DRC into Bukavu town.
By water, you can take a ferry ride from Goma to Bukavu passed Idjwi Island on Lake Kivu. The boat ride takes almost 3 hours for faster boats and the public boats take about four to five hours. There are charges that you will need to pay, for shared boat; it is between $50 and $70 while the slow boats cost $35.