Kahuzi Biega National Park
Kahuzi Biega National Park is one of the largest protected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The park is found near the western bank of Lake Kivu and on the Rwandan border and it also near Bukavu town. Kahuzi Biega national park covers an area of 6000 kilometers is a UNESCO world heritage site lying in Albertine valley and Congo basin in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo south of the Kivu province. The huge vast land of Kahuzi Biega is made up of both mountainous and lowland terrains. The smaller portion of 600 kilometers eastern part of the park is mountainous on the Mmutumba mountain range of the Albertine Rift in the great rift valley and the larger remaining portion of 5400 kilometers is mainly lowland with a 7.4-kilometer width corridor which joins the mountainous region and the low land terrain. The lowland stretching from Bukavu to Kisangani in crossed by Luka and Lugulu rivers which flow to Lualaba River.
Kahuzi Biega national park 1,441 kilometers from Kinshasa Capital City of the democratic republic of Congo and it derives its name from two dormant volcanoes of mount Kahuzi of 3308 meters above the sea level and mount Biega of 2790 meters. The park lies in the altitude variation of 700 meters to 3300 meters receives an annual rainfall average of 1800mm with maximum temperatures of 18°C and minimum temperatures of 10.4°C. Kahuzi Biega national park is governed by I ’Institut Congolais pour la conservation de la nature (ICCN). It is an ecological Site with a variety of flora and fauna and as per 2003 statics from a survey, the park has 1,178 plant species in the mountainous region, 136 mammal species and 349 of bird species.
The most prominent mammal in Kahuzi Biega is the eastern lowland gorillas which live in the altitude range of 2100 t0 2400, according to the 2008 status report of a survey conducted by wildlife conservation society in April of 2008, it indicates there are approximately 181 east low land gorillas. Other animals in the park include colobinae, owl-faced monkeys, bush elephant, bush buffalo, bongo, Hylocereus, alexander’s bush squirrel, Ruwenzori least offer shrew, eastern needle clawed, mountain climbing mouse, leopard, olive baboon, giant forest hog, hippopotamus, Albertine owlet and eastern chimpanzee, the Black and white colobus monkeys, Mangabey and blue monkeys and many more. Bird species available in the park include Grauer’s broadbill, Rockefeller’s sun bird, Shelley’s crimson wing, Grauer’s warbler, and Ruwenzori turaco.
Kahuzi Biega national park is filled with various rare vegetation types which range from swamps, marshland, riparian forests, and bogs at different altitude levels. The western lowland sector of Kahuzi Biega national park at the altitude variation between 1200 meters and 1500 meters is densely dominated by thick Guineo-congolian wet equatorial rain forest and eastern region at the altitude variation of 600 meters and 2600 meters is one of the rare sites in the sub Saharan with 6 distinguished vegetation types which make it unique and such spectacular view with dormant volcanoes of Kahuzi and Biega. These vegetation types include swamp and peat bog, swamp forest, high altitude rainforest, the mountain rainforest, bamboo forest and sub-alpine heather. Bamboo forest grows at the altitude of 2350-2600, mountain and swamp forest grows at altitude of 2,000 meters and 2400 meters, subalpine vegetation at the altitude of 2600 meters on the mounts of Kahuzi and Biega, dry savannah and grasslands together with the endemic Senecio kahuzicus.
Kahuzi Biega national park was established by the efforts of Belgian photographer and conservationist Adrien Deschhryver, it was first gazetted as a zoological and forest reserve of mount Kahuzi on 27 July 1937by the governor-general of the Belgian colonial administration. Five years later the reserve’s boundaries were extended to cover 6000 kilometers and in 1980 the park was declared a UNESCO site due to harboring the rain forest and a variety of animals including the highly endangered eastern lowland gorillas.
Kahuzi Biega national park is one of the tourist paradises never to miss while on safari to the Democratic Republic of Congo and in central Africa offering various breathtaking activities, these include:
Gorilla trekking: eastern lowland gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega national park is the ideal destination for a breath taking experience in Democratic Republic of Congo were tourists get a chance to encounter the precious endangered low land gorillas. Low land gorilla trekking package takes a minimal of 3 days and it can be done throughout the year but the best experience can be got during the drier months of May to August. To participate in this adventure a tourist needs to be in possession of a trekking permit which costs US$ 400 and allows you 1 hour with these calm animals.
Hiking: hiking in Kahuzi Biega national park is one of the fascinating activities offered in the park, hiking in the park takes the tourists through the beautiful mountainous landscape and low land terrain of the park. On this adventure, tourist goes through the thick vegetation of the park while enjoying the beautiful scenery, birds, and animals as they are sighted while climbing the dormant volcanoes of Biega of 2,790m above sea level and Mount Kahuzi 3,308meters above sea level.
Bird watching: Kahuzi Biega national park is a birding safaris haven with approximately 342 bird species together with 42 endemic species which are of interest to bird lovers, birds sighted in Kahuzi Biega national park include Yellow Crested Helmet-Shrike, African Green Broad Bill and the Congo Peafowl, Grauer’s broadbill, Rockefeller’s sunbird, Shelley’s crimson wing and many more.
Nature walks: nature amazing in Kahuzi Biega national park is an amazing activity as the park is naturally gifted with various species of vegetation and numerous animal species which are sighted while to the adventure with fresh unpolluted air. Nature walks take the tourist through the park using different which leads to various different amazing spots like chibati waterfalls. Nature walks involve encountering many wildlife and birds which make wonderful sounds which are music to the ears of the tourists.
Other attractions in Kahuzi Biega national park include Tshiabati waterfalls and Lwiro chimpanzee sanctuary.
Accommodation in Kahuzi Biega national park can be got from Mont Kahuzi Hotel, Lakeside Hotel Bukavu, Exodus Bukavu, Hotel Begonias, Lodge Coco and Orchids Safari Club.