Most people believe that tourism in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is just about the mountain gorillas.
I used to believe that too, owing to aggressive marketing and publicity these primates have received, particularly in Rwanda and the Virunga in general. But a friend of mine working with the Virunga Community Programs recently opened my eyes to some of the hidden treasures DRC offers.
Kahuzi-Biega National Park is one of those hidden gems. This is a tourist attraction that has been less traveled, partly owing to DRC’s reputation as a conflict-ridden country. However, the park offers a unique adventure in a peaceful environment to tourists and travelers alike as I recently discovered.
Our guide told us Kahuzi-Biega National Park was established in 1970. It covers a total land area of 600,000 square kilometers and is situated in the eastern part of DRC in Bukavu Town.
The park’s vegetation cover is marshlands, swamps, bogs, and tropical rainforests. These favor a diversity of bird and wildlife species in the park. You are going to enjoy all of these when you make the trip to Kahuzi-Biega National Park.
You can make your booking in advance with reputable firms like Amani Safaris, Virunga Community Programs, or some of the tour firms operating in DRC.
People were very friendly and welcoming, especially when you speak to them in Swahili.
Lowland gorilla trekking in Kahuzi-Biega National Park
Kahuzi Biega is the home to the largest species of the eastern lowland gorillas in the whole world. It has thus become a top tourist attraction for lowland gorilla tours. Trekking the gorillas usually involves hiking in the tropical rain forest and following different trails, depending on where the family spent their previous night.
Hiking time may range from 30 minutes to six hours in the jungle. However, you are strictly going to spend an hour interacting with the gorillas after reaching them; learning their unique behavior patterns. This hour is going to provide you with a lifetime experience to tell.
Volcano Hiking in Kahuzi-Biega National Park
You can get more adventurers since Kahuzi-Biega National Park is not just about the lowland gorillas. Hiking is a favorite activity to many as I discovered here. There are pair of inactive volcanic mountains found within the heart of this national park you can hike. Mount Kahuzi is the highest at 3,308m above sea level while Mount Biega, the smaller of the two stands at 2,790m above sea level.
The summits of these two volcanoes provide a panoramic view of the entire national park, the wildlife, the neighboring communities, and countries. Furthermore, bamboo and subalpine vegetation that harbors different animals cover these two volcanoes. This provides the traveler a chance to encounter different animals like owl-faced monkeys plus a variety of birds.
Bird Watching Kahuzi-Biega National Park
Kahuzi Biega also is a home to about 342 bird species, 42 endemic to the park. This is a paradise to avid bird lovers. Among the birds, you are likely to spot here include Yellow Crested Helmet-Shrike, African Green Broad Bill, and the Congo Peafowl among many others.
Nature Walks in Kahuzi-Biega National Park
Travelers here are able to follow different trails in this tropical rainforest to various tourism sites. The trails lead to various sites such as the Chibati waterfalls and three other waterfalls found in the park. Experienced guides are going to lead you in spotting various types of wildlife and vegetation in Kahuzi Biega. Nature here is at its pristine, with travelers able to hear the sweet sounds of singing birds up the trees, and the cool air to freshen the mind of the weary traveler. By the time you depart from Kahuzi Biega National Park, you’ll have a clear mind plus more knowledge about wildlife, and a trip to this amazing park is a memorable one to cherish.
Where to Sleep near Kahuzi-Biega National Park
You may get all information from Virunga Community Programs or the Amani Safaris. But the national park is served by various lodging and accommodation facilities. These offer quality food and accommodation experiences. They include L’Orchids Safari Club and Lodge Coco in Bukavu. Both low and high end travelers are assured of quality and affordable prices to make their travel memorable.
A trip to Kahuzi Biega National Park should be on your bucket list when you want to have a truly remarkable traveling experience. Bukavu is now relatively calm and peace has prevailed in this area. A combination of historical, natural, cultural, and man-made resources make a visit to this paradise on earth an awesome and memorable experience.