Kahuzi-Beiga National Park (Parc national des Kahuzi-Biega) is situated in the eastern part of Congo in South Kivu province, just adjacent to magnificent Lake Kivu. The park is approximately 40 km from Bakuvu town in the southern part of Kivu province in the western boarder of Rwanda and D. R. Congo.
Established as a national Park in 1970 with an area of 750 square kilometers, Kahuzi – Biega national park is essentially home to two impressive extinct volcanoes, Kahuzi (9,153ft) and Biega (1,085ft) and shelters diverse and abundant fauna though the primary attraction is the lowland eastern gorillas.
Although the park was founded for the protection of the gorillas it is also diverse in other species with over 135 mammals that inhabit this park, 336 endemic and migratory bird species and 12 different species of primates including the mighty chimpanzees.
This national park offers an amazing experience of trekking the eastern lowland gorillas which were about 284 in 1990 living within 25 families but recent counts which have taken place since 2004 have found only 2 families consisting of around 40 individuals. Forest elephant, several other sub-species of monkeys, chimpanzees and numerous birds call this area their home.
Kahuzi-Biega national park and other four national parks in D.R. Congo were inscribed on the UNESCO List of “World Heritage in Danger” in 1997, hence major efforts have been taken to restructure and protect these biologically diverse conservation areas, which have seen eastern gorillas and other species survive and thrive over time.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has been previously associated civil strife until 2004 when the situation managed to stabilize but only marginally, though Kahuzi-Beiga National park remained relatively stable with less havoc keeping it fairly safe and secure for gorilla tourism to go on. Hence the park offers the most surpassed Eastern lowland gorilla trekking safaris in Africa.
Kahuzi-Beiga national park has a total of 9 gorilla families in the wild but only 2 have been fully habituated for trekking and the other 2 currently undergoing habituation. The other two are habituated where you can spend your time to see them perform their daily duties like waking up from their nests, feeding and playing with the young ones and other amazing activities.
This family is comprised of 37 members with Chimanuka as a lead silverback where the group derives its name, including 19 babies, 17 females and 1 silverback. This family is famous for having four sets of twins which has never been seen in any eastern gorilla family.
The Mugaruka family has only one member that is Mugaruka. The two habituated families, Chimanuka and Mugaruka are the most loved by tourists because they can easily be accessed by the visitors. Mugaruka lost one hand in a poacher’s trap and it is now a solitary male after losing the females and infants in a fight with Chimanuka.
Mankoto and Mpungwe Families
These two families are under the habituation process to make the number of habituated families to four once the process in completed.
Trekking the Eastern Lowland gorillas starts with a morning briefing from the guides and the visitors are supposed to put on masks so they don’t transmit cough or cold to the gorillas and hiking gears including strong boots, rain jackets, camera gadgets and packed drinks, food or snacks.
Each family is allocated a maximum of 6 visitors each day and hiking starts at Tshivanga, the park headquarters and may last 1 to 6 hours depending on the movements of the group that will be allocated and the gorilla family for you to trek.