Gorilla Trekking in Kahuzi-Biega National Park is remarkably unforgettable on-foot-walk primate adventure you should consider a must-do while on Congo safari. It rewards holidaymakers a magical encounter with the Eastern Lowland gorillas while in the wild. A close encounter with the Lowland gorillas, a sub-species of the Eastern gorilla is of no doubt a lifetime experience. Unlike visits to see the mountain gorillas that have been popularized, less people know that you can also get upclose encounters with the eastern lowland gorillas.
The Eastern Lowland gorillas are found in Kahuzi-Biega National Park and Maiko National Park. However you can only go gorilla trekking in the Kahuzi Biega National Park, an expansive rain-forest park occupying 6000sq.kms of land area in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Elsewhere, the eastern lowland gorillas are found in Tayna Gorilla Reserve, Usala Forest, Itombwe Massif and Maiko National Park of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Lowland gorilla permits
To go gorilla trekking in the Congo’s Kahuzi-Biega National Park, all interested visitors must have valid gorilla permits. Permits for lowland gorilla trekking like mountain gorilla trekking in the Virunga cost US$400 per person. Holidaymakers can have their Eastern Lowland gorilla permits booked through a trusted ground tour operator/company in the DR Congo or directly contact the reservation team from Kahuzi-Biega National Park authorities.
How to Plan a Visit to the Eastern Lowland Gorilla
Visiting the Eastern Lowland Gorillas at Kahuzi Biega is a truly unforgettable experience.
Booking can be made through a local tour operator.
Just before the entrance to the park is the Tshivanga Visitor Centre. You will be greeted by park staff that will assist with payment and registration. Make sure you take a photo with the large gorilla statue while waiting for trackers locate the gorilla family. Once the location is confirmed you will begin to drive into the park.
Your guide will give you a short introduction before starting the forest hike. He will cover the history, geography and some facts about the gorilla family you will be visiting. The guide will also provide you with advice on how to behave when with the gorillas.
Following the briefing you begin your journey along narrow jungle paths to meet the gorillas. Masks are worn to prevent gorillas from catching human disease. The length of this hike depends on the location of the gorillas. Some days they can be a 10-15 minute walk from the road, other days it can take over an hour of walking to reach the gorillas.
When you enter the territory of the gorillas you will be greeted by the enormous male silverback, making sure you are not a threat. After he accepts your presence a magical time observing the gorillas will begin, which is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Etiquette for Lowland gorilla trekking Congo
- To be allowed to trek Lowland gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega, you must be above 15 years.
- When you come across Lowland gorillas in the wild, maximum of 1 hour shall be allowed for you to enjoy with these creatures, take pictures and observe all their daily behaviors.
- A maximum of 8 visitors are officially permitted to track one habituated Lowland gorilla family.
- A distance of 8-10m should be observed all times from Lowland gorillas.
- Camera free from flashlight is accepted for photo taking.
- Don’t leave any rubbish while on Lowland gorilla trekking.
- You can be allowed to trek Lowland gorillas in Congo’s Kahuzi-Biega if you aren’t sick/ill.
- Covering your mouth is a must if you want to cough and nose when in need to sneeze while on Eastern Lowland gorilla trek in Congo.
What to pack
Essentials to consider on your Kahuzi-Biega Lowland gorilla safari include yellow fever certificate, sun hat, valid gorilla permit, waterproof daypack, camera, long-sleeved shirt, sunglasses, gardening gloves, poncho/rain jacket, first aid kit or medical kit, trousers, sweater, insect repellents.
Best time to go Lowland gorilla safari in Kahuzi-Biega
Lowland gorilla holidays in Kahuzi-Biega can be planned at any month of the year considering the favorable weather and climatic conditions in the park. However, the dry season is the best time to enjoy a Lowland gorilla experience in Congo’s Kahuzi-Biega. This means, your Lowland gorilla trekking safari must be planned from June to September or December to February. Trekking Lowland gorillas during the rainy months (March to May/October to November) is slightly challenging due to slippery steep slopes.
The lodging facilities in and around are few but the notable ones include Exodus Bukavu Hotel, Coco Lodge, and L’Orchids Safari Club.