Kahuzi Biega national park
Kahuzi Biega national park is a UNESCO world heritage site situated in the eastern region of democratic republic of Congo near the western bank of Lake Kivu and Rwandan border, this amazing ecological system is one of the biggest national park in democratic republic of Congo lieing between both mountainous and lowland terrain. Kahuzi Biega national park derives its name from two in active volcanoes mount Kahuzi and mount Biega found in the park, the mountains are park of the great Mitumba mountain range which stretches through the Albertine rift in the Great Rift Valley.
History of Kahuzi Biega national park
Kahuzi Biega national park was started as a zoological reserve at a size of 750 square kilometers in 1937 stretching through the slopes of mount Kahuzi, the reserve was established by under the orders of the Belgian colonial government purposely to conserve eastern lowland gorillas from poachers. In 1975 the park’s area was extended to cover an area of 6,000 square kilometers as it was declared a national park.in 1980 Kahuzi Biega national park was declared a UNESCO world heritage site primarily because of its huge population of eastern lowland mountain gorillas.
Vegetation in Kahuzi Biega national park
Kahuzi Biega national park is generally a forested national park dominated by a series of forests and a variety of vegetation, the park is generally covered by equatorial rainforest, riverine flora, swamps, bogs, marshland and riparian forest at different altitude levels. Kahuzi Biega national park’s vegetation cover is distinguished according to the region of the park
- Western lowland sector at the altitude of range of 1,200 meters- 1,500 meters is dominated by a guinea-Congolian wet equatorial rai forest
- Eastern mountainous sector is dominated by a continuous forest vegetation at an altitude range of 600 meters – 2,600 meters, this section’s vegetation is one of the rare sites in sub-Saharan Africa where vegetation transition from low – highland is witnessed. Vegetation in this sector includes swamps and peat bog, swamp forest, high altitude rainforest, mountain rainforest, bamboo forest and subalpine heather.
Vegetation in Kahuzi Biega national park grows at different altitude range, at the altitude range of 2000 meters – 2400 meters there is mountain and swamp forest, at the altitude of 2350 meters – 2,600 there is bamboo forests, on mount Kahuzi and mount Biega summits there is subalpine heather, dry savannah, grassland and endemic plant Senecio kahuzicus.
Attractions in Kahuzi Biega national park
Eastern lowland gorillas
Kahuzi Biega national park is the only place in Africa where you can find eastern lowland gorillas, these gorillas live in the deep forests on mount Kahuzi and mount Biega. Eastern lowland gorillas are the largest of all the gorilla subspecies and they are differentiated from others by their jet black coat which turns into silver at an adult stage, the also have large hands, short muzzle and short body. In Kahuzi Biega national park there is only two gorilla families which are trekked by visitors.
Other primates and mammals
Though Kahuzi Biega national park is famous for eastern lowland gorillas, the park is also a home to many wildlife species including over 136 species of mammals and other primates, other primates in Kahuzi Biega national park apart from eastern lowland gorillas include bush elephants, bush buffalo, aquatic civet, eastern needle-clawed galago, Ruwenzori least otter shrew, alexander’s bush squirrel, Maclaud’s horseshoe and many more. Primates include eastern chimpanzee, several Cercopithecinae, colobinae and owl-faced monkey.
Kahuzi Biega national park is an important birding site habiting over 349 bird species, out the big bird population 42 bird species are endemic to the Albertine rift. These birds comfortably thrive through the various vegetation cover of the park and these birds crowd the park as they are attracted by fruits and seeds in the forest. Birds in Kahuzi Biega national park include Rockefeller’s sunbird, Grauer’s broadbill, Ruwenzori turaco, Grauer’s warbler, Shelley’s crimsonwing and many more.
Tshiabati waterfalls are magnificent waterfalls amidst the thick forests of Kahuzi Biega national park, these waterfalls are one of the greatest attractions in the park and are part of the Tshiabati waterfalls trail which runs adjacent to two rivers which drain through the forests.
Kahuzi Biega national park consists of two in active volcanoes that is mount Kahuzi and mount Biega which create a beautiful scenic view in the park, mount Kahuzi is the highest peak in the Mitumba range standing at a height of 3,317 meters above the sea level and it is situated in the eastern region of Kahuzi Biega national park. Mount Biega is situated in the south kivu region at the altitude of 2,790 meters above sea and it also lies in the Mitumba range.
Things to do in Kahuzi Biega national park
Eastern lowland gorilla trekking
Eastern lowland gorilla trekking is the highlight activity of Kahuzi Biega national park and for a fact Kahuzi Biega is the only place in the world where you find and trek these kind of mountain gorillas, eastern lowland mountain gorillas are the major attraction in Kahuzi Biega national park where eastern lowland gorilla trekking takes place. In Kahuzi Biega national park there is two habituated gorilla families where eastern lowland gorilla trekking takes place, this activity starts as early as 8:00 am in the morning with briefing and involves hiking through the thick forests in search for the gorillas.
On this expedition expect to hike 1 – 6 hours looking lowland eastern gorillas depending on where they spent the night, when you find them you are allowed to spend only one hour with them, you can take pictures, videos and learn more about them. Apart from eastern lowland gorillas you also get to encounter other primates like olive baboon, white and black colobus monkeys, owl faced monkey and mammals like bush elephant, Ruwenzori civet, Maclaud’s horseshoe bat, eastern needle-clawed galago, bush buffaloes and many more.
Hiking mount Kahuzi and mount Biega
Kahuzi Biega national park comprises of two inactive volcanoes that mount Kahuzi and mount Biega which offer a great scenic view, of these two volcanoes mount volcanoes mount Kahuzi is the higher of the two standing at the altitude of 3,308 meters above the sea level and mount Biega stands at the altitude of 2790 meters. Hiking in Kahuzi Biega national park happens on these two magnificent volcanoes using clearly established trails, the hike takes about 5-7 hours and as you hike you come into contact with various vegetation covers ranging from bamboo, tropical forests and subalpine vegetation. You also encounter a variety of colorful bird species and monkeys in the forests, while on the top of these volcanoes you get an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful views of the parks and the surrounding communities.
Kahuzi Biega national park is a birding paradise with over 349 bird species which thrive in the forests dominating the park, while on the walk in the forests these birds are easy spot on tree tops. Birds in Kahuzi Biega national park include Yellow Crested Helmet-Shrike, African Green Broad Bill and the Congo Peafowl, Rockefellers and many more.
Kahuzi Biega national park is a very scenic national park composed of volcano views, thick forest vegetation and attractions like Tshiabati waterfalls which are encountered in the park. Nature walks in the park is one of the best ways of touring the thick forests using perfectly established trails, the most prominent trail mostly used during nature walk is Tshiabati trail on which you get to encounter the magnificent triple waterfalls, and you also encounter many bird species and beautiful plants of various kinds and many more.
Best time to visit Kahuzi Biega national park
The major tourist activity in Kahuzi Biega national park is eastern lowland gorilla trekking, this activity can be done throughout the year though the best time to go for this activity is during the period of June to September. The period of June to September is dry and the trekking routes are dry and less slippery. Eastern lowland gorillas have three seasons which greatly determines their location and movements in the forests.
June to September – in this season the gorillas move to far regions of the forest looking for fruits since it’s a fruit bearing season
April and May – in this seasons gorillas do not move to far since all the trees have heavy leaves which are their food, so in this period you do not have to trek to far to find the gorillas.
October and November – in this period bamboo trees sprout thus bamboo shoots become their food so you do not have to trek too far to find the gorillas.
How to get to Kahuzi Biega national park
Kahuzi-Biega national park
Accommodation in Kahuzi Biega national park
As a tourists on a safari in Kahuzi Biega national park, safe and comfortable accommodation is got from orchids safari lodge, coco lodge, begonias hotel, exodus hotel, mount Kahuzi hotel, Hôtel Rivière Ruzizi, sommet Biega and many more.