Lowland Gorilla Safaris
Eastern Lowland gorilla trekking is exclusive to Kahuzi Biega national park in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
There are four main gorilla subspecies but the Eastern lowland gorillas are the largest with a fully grown weighing up to 440 kilograms. Just like other gorilla species, lowland gorillas’ diet is mainly comprised of plant vegetation and fruits.
The eastern lowland gorillas are endemic to Congo forests. They live in the forested mountains of Kahuzi and Beiga meaning the national park is the only place you can do lowland gorilla trekking. They also live in families that are headed by a dominant male called Silverback. Eastern lowland gorillas are critically endangered as their population declined greatly over the years. The population decrease is largely due to the civil wars in Congo, poaching, and habitat encroachment. In the 1990’s the total population of eastern lowland gorillas was estimated at 17,000 individuals but that population greatly reduced to about 250 because of the above-mentioned factors.
Kahuzi Biega national park is listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO as it is home to over 136 mammals and 350 bird species among others. The park is the ultimate lowland gorilla trekking and overall primate adventure destination in the region.
There are 13 habituated lowland gorilla families in the park that are open to tourists. You are expected to be at the park headquarters by 8:30 am for a briefing. Here you are told about the regulations and procedure to follow before embarking on the trek. After the briefing you are then guided to the forest by the parks’ ranger guides. These are very knowledgeable about the parks various wildlife species and will give you all the information you need to know about the different wildlife species including lowland gorillas.
The hike to the lowland gorilla trek takes 2 to 3 hours depending on the movement of the gorillas. On getting to them, you are supposed to keep at least 7 meters away from them. This is done to avoid any sort of confrontation as gorillas charge when they feel threatened. Also because they have over 95% DNA similar to humans, they can easily contract human illnesses like flu and the distances helps to keep them safe from any human contact.
In the one hour in the presence of the lowland gorillas, you get to learn more about them through observation. You also get to take photos though flash photography is not allowed. You are also not allowed to make noise in the presence of the gorillas. Once the one hour has elapsed, you then head back to the park headquarters and from there proceed to your Hotel.
Kahuzi Biega national park being a very diverse protected area, even when doing lowland gorilla trekking you get to see other wildlife species. The experience is very amazing and a once in a life time
Eastern lowland gorillas are endemic to Congo forests.
They live in the forested mountains of kahuzi and Beiga meaning the national park is the only place you can do lowland gorilla trekking.
They also live in families that are headed by a dominant male called silverback.
Eastern lowland gorillas are critically endangered as their population declined greatly over the years.
Accommodation To Use
The best place to have accommodation when going for lowland gorilla trekking is Bukavu. There are a number of hotels here including Panorama Hotel, Elizabeth Hotel, Orchids’ Safari club, Mont Kahuzi among others. It takes about a 45 minuets to 1 hours drive to the park depending on where you are coming from
When going for the lowland gorilla trek it is better to have some packed lunch. Alternatively you can wait and have hot lunch at the Hotel after the trek.
Kahuzi Biega national park can be accessed by road transport. You can land into Rwanda’s Kigali international airport and then transfer by road to Bukavu via the Cyangugu border. This takes 8 to 9 hours drive including stop overs for lunch and photography. In Bukavu it is where you can book your Hotel and then transfer to the park by road
Best time for Lowland Gorilla Trekking
The dry season months from June to September and from January to Early March are the best times for lowland gorilla trekking in Kuhuzi Biega national park. With the minimal rainfall disturbances and interference, trekking and photography is very much easier.
The wet season months are still great times for lowland gorillas trekking. The roads however get Maddy and expect rainfall while on the gorilla trek. It is however advisable to always have a raincoat even in the dry season because rainfall is unpredictable given the relief and vegetation of the park.
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