Kahuzi Biega National park is one of the biggest protected National parks in Democratic republic of Congo covering an area of 6000 square kilimeteres. The park was established in 1970 and is located near Bukavu town in Eastern DR Congo, South Kivu province near the western bank of lake Kivu and Rwandan border.
Established by a Belgium conservationist and photographer Adrien Deschryver , the park is named after two dormant volcanoes, Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega, which are within its limits. Therefore, Kahuzi Biega national Park is situated in both mountainous and lowland terrain with a larger part of the park being lowland. The park was inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage in 1980 because of its unique biodiversity of eastern lowland gorillas and rainforest habitat with over 1178 plant species in the mountainous region, 136 mammal species and 349 bird species.
The Eastern lowland gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri) are among the 136 mammal species in Kahuzi Biega and most prominent. There are three types of gorillas, the Mountain gorillas, the Eastern lowland gorillas and the western gorillas. The gorillas are endangered species and live in DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, with only mountain gorillas living in Uganda and Rwanda and some in Virunga National park in DR Congo. The other gorilla species are all found in DR Congo.
There is less than 200 Eastern lowland gorillas remaining in the world, which is a great reduction from the 600 lowland gorillas counted before 1990 before there was increased conflict in the region. With such threat of extinction of the lowland they were classified as endangered specie.
Apart from the lowland gorillas, there are other primate species which include; the eastern chimpanzees, and several Cercopithecinae, Colobinae and owl-faced monkeys. Other mammals in Kahuzi Biega National park include eastern needle-clawed galago, Maclaud’s horseshoe bat, the bush elephant, bush buffalo, hylochere and bongo, Aquatic civet, Ruwenzori least otter shrew, and Alexander’s bush squirrel.
Kahuzi Biega national park is green throughout the year receiving annual rainfall of
1,800 millimetres and the maximum temperature recorded in the area is 18 °C (64 °F) while the minimum is 10.4 °C (50.7 °F).
How to access the park.
The park can best be accessed by land through Rwanda and crossing over to Bukavu via Cyangugu border. For international airport, you will arrive through Kigali international airport, and either transfer by road via Nyungwe Forest up to Cyangungu or take a flight up to Kamembe and cross over to Bukavu which is very near. The park can also be accessed while coming from Goma by speedboat or ferry from Goma to Bukavu, which sails on Lake Kivu south to Bukavu.
Attractions in and around Kahuzi Biega.
There are many tourist attractions in and around Kahuzi Biega National park. The major attraction in Kahuzi Biega National park is lowland gorilla tracking. There are over 400 tourists visiting the park per year to see the lowland gorillas. The lowland gorillas are a bit easier to track compared to the mountain gorillas which involve hiking. Tracking the lowland gorillas take 20-3 hours depending on the movement of the gorillas in their natural wild. Like the mountain gorillas, the lowland gorillas are headed by the dominant male silverback. There is currently two habituated gorilla families for tracking and these are Chimanuka with 40 members and Cibulula family.
Kahuzi Biega has two domant volcanoes; Mount Kazuzi and Mout Biega. Tourists who like hiking come to hike either of these mountains up to the top. These two can be hiked with in a day. Hiking will involve securing a hiking loyalty card, which is obtained from the park headquarters and is allowed for age limit of 10 years and above. Hiking will reward you with seeing mammals as Owl Faced Monkey, Chimpanzee and different bird species.
Mount Kahuzi was last active at the end of the Pleistocene and stands at 3,317 metres above sea level making it the highest peak in the Mitumba Range, which runs along the west shore of Lake Kivu in the Albertine Rift. Hiking of Mt.Kahuzi takes 7-8 hours including both ascend and descend. The peak of the mountain will offer great views of Bukavu town and Lake Kivu.
On the other hand, Mt. Biega stands at a height of 2,790m above sea level which makes it the second highest peak. The vegetation cover is different from that of Mt.Kahuzi which offers it different biodiversity. Hiking Mt.Biega will take 6 hours round trip and will require early start of the hike.
Lwiro Sanctuary visit.
Established in 2002, Lwiro Primate Rehabilitation Centre provides care and rehabilitation for orphaned primates and this is all aimed at ensuring their survival in the wild. The rehabilitation center is located on the grounds of the Congolese Government Scientific Research Centre, situated in an old Belgian colonial building near the park headquarters. The center currently has over 70 monkeys and over 50 chimpanzees all of which were rescued from danger. Other activities undertaken include education programs for local people, children, military and tourists. The center has fascinating exhibits and visit to this centre will reward with great information about the primates on top of helping in conservation through paying the fees to visit this research centre.
Nature walk trails.
There are different trails around the park and these include; Mount Bugulumiza Trail which is a 6km trail starting near the Tshivanga Visitor Centre and takes three hours return trip. The top of the trail offers fascinating views of Mt Kahuzi and Mt Biega along with the nearby landscape.
There is also Marais Musisi Trail which takes you through bamboo forests and swampland before ushering you to a scenic view over the Marais Musisi where a troupe of elephants can been spotted.
The Tshibati Waterfalls Trail will also offer an opportunity to see three magnificent waterfalls. This is located near Lwiro Primate Rehabilitation Centre.
Idjwi Island visit.
Idjwi Island is a unique and unexplored tourist attraction. The Island is 70 kms in length and 340 sq km in size making it the second largest inland island in Africa. Idjwi Island is locate within Lake Kivu and can be seen clearly from both the Rwandan and Congolese mainland. The visit to the island offers opportunity to explore one of the many pineapple plantations and picking some, nature walk to the village, swimming in the lake, bird watching, and interacting with the local community including the fishermen.
More information about Khauzi Biega and how to visit can be obtained by contacting us.