Kahuzi Biega national park
Kahuzi Biega national park : The Kahuzi Biega national park is one of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s 10 national parks and is located in the south. The Kahuzi Biega national park is located close to the DR Congo-Rwanda Rusizi border in the Sud-Kivu province of the country. The Kahuzi Biega national park was established as a national park by one Belgian photographer who went by the names Adrien Deschryver in 1970.
The Kahuzi Biega national park got its name from the two dominant but dormant volcanoes in the park territory that is the Mount Kahuzi and the Mount Biega. The park is sitted on a 6,000 kilometer squared piece of land and within this land is a diverse flora and fauna system. The Kahuzi Biega national park is a world heritage site and was designated in 1980 majorly recognizing being a home to the eastern lowland gorillas and as a forested land.
The Kahuzi Biega boasts of being a home to over 136 different mammal species with 349 different bird species, 1,178 unique plant species with 44 different species of amphibians and 69 reptile species. Among the 135 different mammal species, outstanding are the eastern lowland gorillas that are listed under the endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The eastern lowland gorillas are a subspecies of the eastern gorillas along with the mountain gorillas.
The Kahuzi Biega national park is majorly dominated by tropical rain forest land with lowlands favoring the lowland gorillas and a blend of savannah, swampy with rivers and valleys besides the two mountains in the area. The Kahuzi Biega national park is also one of the parks that lie in the Great Rift Valley. The park in the 1990’s had a census that put the population in the park at 600 individuals but with the conflicts in the area, many gorillas were lost leaving them at a count of about 125 individuals in 2008.
The park along with other stakeholders have come together to enforce conservation of the lowland gorillas in the area and with steady progress after the census done in 2011, the numbers had increased to 181 individuals and a number of births have been welcomed in the park.
The Kahuzi Biega national park is famous and welcomes the biggest number of tourists looking for the lowland gorilla trekking experience. The park is the best national park to visit for this experience and you can tell the differences between the lowland gorillas and the mountain gorillas on this visit.
The lowland gorillas have shorter bodies as compared to the mountain gorilla with larger arms and thicker bodies with less fur on their bodies. There are two habituated lowland gorilla families that guests can visit when in the Kahuzi Biega national park. There are however other families in the park but the other 8 lowland gorilla families are still unhabituated but living in this park.
The two habituated gorilla families of the park are the Chimanuka gorilla family and the Mugaruka gorilla family.
The Chimanuka gorilla family is the largest gorilla family in the park and the oldest, comprised of 36 lowland gorillas and led by one dominant silverback. The dominant silverback of this group is the only male in the group and is called Chimanuka. He is followed by 17 female gorillas and 18 young gorillas.
The family has been blessed with some new births over the years and is one of the gorilla families that you can visit and spot 4 different sets of twins, a rare but possible occurrence in the lowland gorillas.
The Mpungwe gorilla family is a liberated group and the newest habituated gorilla group and has 17 gorillas under the leadership of the dominating silverback called Mpungwe. Mpungwe is a very aggressive one and tends to charge at people however this is an effort to protect his family members but doesn’t attack to harm.
This family was first spotted around the river Mpungwe thus its name.
Besides lowland gorilla trekking, the park has more to offer like a visit to the Lwiro Chimpanzee sanctuary. This sanctuary is a home to the orphaned chimpanzees and some monkeys and this sanctuary aims at giving these primates a second chance at life. The visitors can only pay a 25 USD charge to access this place and be a part of the day to day running of the place.
Get to visit the Idjwi Island when in the Kahuzi Biega national park and enjoy Africa’s second largest island. The Idjwi Island covers 370 square kilometers and is about 70 kilometers wide and there are a number of activities you can engage in while here like boat rides, swimming, visit a pineapple plantation and get a deeper insight in the growth of pineapples.
The visit to Idjwi Island is a great chance to spot a great number of birds of the park along with the different monkey species. There is a camp on the island and other accommodations while in the park include the L’Orchids Safari lodge, Panorama hotel, Hotel Elizabeth, Coco lodge, exodus hotel to mention but a few.
How to get there
You can access the park via the Rwanda-DR Congo land border called Rusizi and drive about an hour to the park headquarters where the activity briefing is held and the gorilla trekking starts. If you were on a visit to the Virunga national park, you may opt to take a 3 hours speed boat connecting to Bukavu port.
We look forward to hearing from you about a visit to the Kahuzi Biega national park.