Eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi-Biéga National Park, DRC

Eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi-Biéga National Park, DRC

Gorilla trekking in Africa to see the largest apes in the world

from AGE ™ Travel Magazine
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Experience the largest primates in the world at eye level!

Around 170 eastern lowland gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri) live in Kahuzi-Biéga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The protected area was founded in 1970 and covers 6000 km2 with rainforest and high mountain forests and, in addition to gorillas, also counts chimpanzees, baboons and forest elephants among its residents. The national park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980.

During gorilla trekking in Kahuzi-Biéga National Park you can observe eastern lowland gorillas in their natural habitat. They are the largest gorillas in the world and fascinating, charismatic creatures. This large gorilla species lives exclusively in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Seeing them in the wild is a very special experience!

Two gorilla families are now habituated there and are used to the sight of people. During gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biéga National Park, tourists can experience the rare great apes in the wild.


Experience lowland gorillas in the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park

"No fence, no glass separates us from them - just a few leaves. Big and powerful; Gentle and caring; Playful and innocent; Clumsy and vulnerable; Half the gorilla family is gathered for us. I look at hairy faces, some look back and all are unique. It is fascinating how different the gorillas look and wonderful how many age groups of this family are gathered for us today. i'm breathless Not from the face mask we wear for safety to avoid an exchange of germs, but from excitement. We are so lucky. And then there's Mukono, the strong woman with one eye. As a young animal she was injured by poachers, now she gives hope. She is proud and strong and she is heavily pregnant. The story touches us. But what impresses me the most is her gaze: clear and direct, he rests on us. She perceives us, scrutinizes us - long and intensively. So here in the dense jungle everyone has their own story, their own thoughts and their very own face. Anyone who thinks a gorilla is just a gorilla has never met them, the largest primates in the world, the wild relatives with the soft fawn eyes.”

AGE ™

AGE™ visited the Eastern Lowland Gorillas in Kahuzi-Biéga National Park. We were lucky enough to see six gorillas: the silverback, two females, two cubs and a three month old baby gorilla.

Before the gorilla trekking, a detailed briefing about the biology and behavior of the gorillas took place in the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park office. The group was then driven by off-road vehicle to the daily starting point. The group size is limited to a maximum of 8 visitors. However, the ranger, tracker and (if necessary) carrier are also included. Our gorilla trekking took place in dense mountain rainforest with no trails. The starting point and trekking time depend on the location of the gorilla family. The actual walking time varies between one hour and six hours. For this reason, appropriate clothing, a packed lunch and enough water are important. From the first gorilla sighting, the group is allowed to stay on site for one hour before heading back.

Since trackers search for the habituated gorilla families early in the morning and the approximate position of the group is known, a sighting can almost be guaranteed. How well the animals can be seen, whether you will find them on the ground or high up in the treetops and how many gorillas show up is a matter of luck. Please remember that although habituated gorillas have become accustomed to the sight of humans, they are still wild animals.

Would you like to know what we experienced while gorilla trekking in DRC and see how we almost stumbled upon the silverback? Our AGE™ review takes you to see the lowland gorillas in the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park.


wildlife viewing • Great Apes • Africa • Lowland Gorillas in DRC • Gorilla trekking experience Kahuzi-Biéga

Gorilla trekking in Africa

Eastern lowland gorillas only live in the Democratic Republic of Congo (e.g. Kahuzi-Biéga National Park). You can see western lowland gorillas, for example, in Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo and in Loango National Park in Gabon. By the way, almost all gorillas in zoos are western lowland gorillas.

You can observe eastern mountain gorillas, for example, in Uganda (Bwindi Impenetrable Forest & Mgahinga National Park), in DRC (Virunga National Park) and in Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park).

Gorilla trekking always takes place in small groups with a ranger from the respective protected area. You can travel to the meeting point in the national park either individually or with a tourist guide. A local tour guide is particularly recommended for countries that are not yet considered politically stable.

AGE™ traveled with Safari 2 Gorilla Tours in Rwanda, DRC and Uganda:
Safari 2 Gorilla Tours is a local tour operator based in Uganda. The private company is owned by Aron Mugisha and was founded in 2012. Depending on the travel season, the company has 3 to 5 employees. Safari 2 Gorilla Tours can arrange gorilla trekking permits for both lowland and mountain gorillas and offers tours in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC. A driver-guide supports the border crossing and takes the tourists to the starting point of the gorilla trekking. If you are interested, the trip can be extended to include a wildlife safari, chimpanzee trekking or rhino trekking.
The organization was excellent, but interpersonal communication was difficult for us, even though Aron speaks English very well. The selected accommodations offered a nice atmosphere. The food was plentiful and gave a glimpse of local cuisine. An off-road vehicle was used for the transfer in Rwanda and in Uganda a van with a sunroof enabled the desired all-round view on safari. The journey to the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park in DRC with a local driver went smoothly. Aron accompanied AGE™ on a multi-day trip involving three border crossings.
wildlife viewing • Great Apes • Africa • Lowland Gorillas in DRC • Gorilla trekking experience Kahuzi-Biéga

Information about gorilla trekking in the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park


Where is the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park - Travel Planning Democratic Republic of the Congo Where is the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park?
The Kahuzi-Biéga National Park is located in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the province of South Kivu. It is close to the border with Rwanda and is only 35 km from the border crossing Direction Générale de Migration Ruzizi.

How to get to the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park? Route planning Democratic Republic of the Congo How to get to the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park?
Most tourists start their tour in Kigali, at Rwanda's international airport. The border crossing at Ruzizi is 6-7 hours away by car (approx. 260 km). For the remaining 35 km to Kahuzi-Biéga National Park you should allow at least an hour's drive and choose a local driver who can handle the muddy roads.
Please note that you need a visa for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. You will receive this "on arrival" at the border, but only by invitation. Have your gorilla trekking permit or the invitation from the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park printed out ready.

When is gorilla trekking in Kahuzi-Biéga National Park possible? When is gorilla trekking possible?
Gorilla trekking is offered all year round in the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park. Usually trekking starts in the morning to have enough time in case the trek takes longer than planned. The exact time will be communicated to you with your gorilla trekking permit.

When is the best time for a gorilla safari? When is the best time for a tour?
You can see lowland gorillas in Kahuzi-Biéga all year round. Nevertheless, the dry season (January & February, and June to September) is more suitable. Less rain, less mud, better conditions for good photos. In addition, the gorillas feed in the lowland areas during this time, which makes them easier to reach.
If you are looking for special offers or unusual photo motifs (e.g. of gorillas in the bamboo forest), the rainy season is still interesting for you. There are also many dry parts of the day during this time and some providers advertise attractive prices in the off-season.

Who can participate in gorilla trekking in Kahuzi-Biéga National Park? Who can participate in gorilla trekking?
From the age of 15 you can visit the lowland gorillas in the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park without any problems. If necessary, parents for children from the age of 12 can obtain a special permit.
Otherwise, you should be able to walk well and have a minimum level of fitness. Older guests who still dare to hike but need support can hire a porter on site. The wearer takes over the daypack and offers a helping hand on rough terrain.

How much does gorilla trekking in Kahuzi-Biéga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo cost? How much does gorilla trekking in Kahuzi-Biéga cost?
The permit for a trek to see the lowland gorillas in the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park costs $400 per person. It entitles you to trek in the mountain rainforest of the national park including a one-hour stay with a habituated gorilla family.
  • The briefing as well as the trackers and the ranger are included in the price. Tips are still welcome.
  • However, the success rate is almost 100%, since the gorillas are searched for by trackers in the morning. However, there is still no guarantee of sighting.
  • Be careful, if you show up late at the meeting point and miss the start of the gorilla trek, your permit will expire. For this reason, it makes sense to travel with a local driver.
  • In addition to the permit costs ($400 per person), you should budget for the visa for the Democratic Republic of the Congo ($100 per person) and the costs of your journey.
  • You can get a habituation permit for $600 per person. This permit entitles you to a two-hour stay with a gorilla family that is still getting used to humans.
  • Please note possible changes. As of 2023.
  • You can find current prices here.

How much time should you plan for gorilla trekking in the Democratic Republic of the Congo? How much time should you plan for gorilla trekking?
The tour lasts between 3 and 8 hours. This time includes a detailed briefing (approx. 1 hour) with many exciting facts about the biology and behavior of the gorillas, the short transport to the daily starting point in an off-road vehicle, trekking in the mountain rainforest (1 hour to 6 hours walking time, depending on the position of the gorillas) and one hour on site with the gorillas.

Is there food and toilets? Is there food and toilets?
Toilets are available at the information center before and after the gorilla trek. A ranger must be informed during the hike, as a hole may have to be dug in order not to irritate the gorillas or endanger them with excrement.
Meals are not included. It is important to take a packed lunch and enough water with you. Plan a reserve in case the trek takes longer than planned.

What attractions are near Kahuzi-Biéga National Park? Which sights are nearby?
In addition to the popular gorilla trekking, the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park offers other activities. There are various hiking trails, waterfalls and the opportunity to climb the two extinct volcanoes Kahuzi (3308 m) and Biéga (2790 m).
You can also visit the eastern mountain gorillas in the Virunga National Park in the DRC (besides the eastern lowland gorillas in the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park). Lake Kivu is also worth a visit. However, the beautiful lake is visited by most tourists from Rwanda. The border to Rwanda is only 35 km away from the Kahuzi-Biega National Park.

Gorilla trekking experiences in Kahuzi-Biéga


The Kahuzi-Biéga National Park offers a special experience A special experience
A hike through original mountain rainforest and a rendezvous with the largest primates in the world. In the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park you can experience eastern lowland gorillas up close!

Personal experience gorilla trekking in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Personal experience of gorilla trekking
practical example: (Warning, this is purely a personal experience!)
We took part in a tour in February: Logbook 1. Arrival: border crossing without any problems - arrival via muddy dirt roads - are happy about our local driver; 2. Briefing: very informative and detailed; 3. Trekking: original mountain rainforest - ranger leads with machete - uneven terrain, but dry - authentic experience - 3 hours planned - gorillas came towards us, so only 2 hours needed; 4. Gorilla observation: Silverback, 2 females, 2 young animals, 1 baby - mostly on the ground, partly in the trees - between 5 and 15 meters away - eating, resting and climbing - exactly 1 hour on site; 5. Return journey: border closure at 16 p.m. - tight in time, but managed - next time we would plan 1 night in the national park;

You can find photos and stories in the AGE™ field report: Experience gorilla trekking in Africa live


Can you look gorillas in the eye?Can you look gorillas in the eye?
That depends on where you are and how the gorillas got used to humans. In Rwanda, for example, when a male made direct eye contact during habituation, the mountain gorilla always looked down to avoid provoking him. In the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park, on the other hand, eye contact was maintained during the habituation of the lowland gorillas to signal equivalence. Both prevent an attack, but only if you know which gorillas know which rules. Therefore always follow the instructions of the rangers on site.

Is the Democratic Republic of the Congo dangerous?Is the Democratic Republic of the Congo dangerous?
We experienced the border crossing between Rwanda and DRC at Ruzizi (near Bukavu) in February 2023 as unproblematic. The drive to Kahuzi-Biéga National Park also felt safe. Everyone we met along the way seemed friendly and relaxed. Once we saw UN Blue Helmets (United Nations Peacekeepers) but they just waved to the kids on the street.
However, many areas of the DRC are unsuitable for tourism. There is also a partial travel warning for the east of the DRC. Goma is threatened by armed conflicts with the armed group M23, so you should avoid the Rwanda-DRC border crossing near Goma.
Find out about the current security situation in advance and make your own decisions. As long as the political situation allows, the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park is a wonderful travel destination.

Where to stay in Kahuzi-Biéga National Park?Where to stay in Kahuzi-Biéga National Park?
There is a campsite in the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park. Tents and sleeping bags can be rented at an additional cost. Due to the partial travel warning, we had decided not to stay overnight within the DRC when planning our trip. On site, however, we had the feeling that this would have been possible without any problems. We met three tourists who were traveling with the roof tent (and local guide) for several days in the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park area.
Alternative in Rwanda: Overnight at Lake Kivu. We stayed in Rwanda and only went to the DRC for a day trip. Border crossing early morning 6am & afternoon 16pm; (Caution opening times vary!) Plan a buffer day if the trekking takes longer and an overnight stay is necessary;

Interesting information about gorillas


Differences between eastern lowland gorillas and mountain gorillas Eastern lowland gorillas versus mountain gorillas
Eastern lowland gorillas live only in the DRC. They have an elongated face shape and are the largest and heaviest gorillas. This subspecies of eastern gorilla is strictly vegetarian. They only eat leaves, fruits and bamboo shoots. Eastern lowland gorillas live between 600 and 2600 meters above sea level. Each gorilla family has only one silverback with several females and young. Adult males have to leave the family and live alone or fight for their own females.
Eastern mountain gorillas live in the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda. They are smaller, lighter and more hairy than the lowland gorilla, and have a round face shape. Although this subspecies of eastern gorilla is mostly vegetarian, they also eat termites. Eastern mountain gorillas can live above 3600 feet. A gorilla family has several silverbacks but only one alpha animal. Adult males remain in families but must be submissive. Sometimes they still mate and trick the boss.

What Do Eastern Lowland Gorillas Eat? What exactly do eastern lowland gorillas eat?
Eastern lowland gorillas are strictly vegetarian. The food supply changes and is influenced by the changing dry seasons and rainy seasons. From mid-December to mid-June, the eastern lowland gorillas primarily eat leaves. During the long dry season (mid-June to mid-September), on the other hand, they feed primarily on fruit. Then they migrate to the bamboo forests and eat mainly bamboo shoots from mid-September to mid-December.

conservation and human rights


Info about medical help for wild gorillas Medical help for gorillas
Sometimes rangers find gorillas in the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park that have become entangled in snares or have injured themselves. Often the rangers can call the Gorilla Doctors in time. This organization runs a health project for eastern gorillas and works across borders. The veterinarians immobilize the affected animal if necessary, release it from the sling and dress the wounds.
Information about conflicts with the indigenous population Conflicts with the indigenous population
At the same time, however, there are serious conflicts with local pygmies and widespread allegations of human rights violations. The Batwa people also state that their ancestors had land stolen from them. At the same time, the park administration complained about the destruction of forests by the Batwa, who have been felling trees within the current park boundaries to produce charcoal since 2018. According to documentation from non-governmental organizations, there have been multiple acts of violence and violent attacks by park rangers and Congolese soldiers on the Batwa people since 2019.
It is important that the situation is monitored and that both the gorillas and the indigenous people are protected. It is to be hoped that a peaceful compromise can be found in the future, in which human rights are fully respected and the habitats of the last eastern lowland gorillas can still be protected.

Gorilla Trekking Wildlife Viewing Facts Photos Gorillas Profile Gorilla Safari AGE™ reports on gorilla trekking:
  • Eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi-Biéga National Park, DRC
  • Eastern mountain gorillas in the Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
  • Experience gorilla trekking in Africa live: Visiting relatives
Gorilla Trekking Wildlife Viewing Facts Photos Gorillas Profile Gorilla Safari Exciting places for great ape trekking
  • DRC -> Eastern Lowland Gorillas & Eastern Mountain Gorillas
  • Uganda -> Eastern Mountain Gorillas & Chimpanzees
  • Rwanda -> Eastern Mountain Gorillas & Chimpanzees
  • Gabon -> Western mountain gorillas
  • Tanzania -> Chimpanzees
  • Sumatra -> Orangutans

Curious? Experience gorilla trekking in Africa live is a first-hand experience report.
Explore even more exciting locations with the AGE™ Africa Travel Guide.


wildlife viewing • Great Apes • Africa • Lowland Gorillas in DRC • Gorilla trekking experience Kahuzi-Biéga

Notices & Copyright

This editorial contribution received external support
Disclosure: AGE™ were given discounted or free services as part of the report – by: Safari2Gorilla Tours; The press code applies: Research and reporting must not be influenced, hindered or even prevented by accepting gifts, invitations or discounts. Publishers and journalists insist that information be given regardless of accepting a gift or invitation. When journalists report on press trips to which they have been invited, they indicate this funding.
Copyright
Texts and photos are protected by copyright. The copyright of this article in words and images is entirely owned by AGE ™. All rights are reserved. Content for print / online media can be licensed on request.
Liability
The content of the article has been carefully researched and is based on personal experience. However, if information is misleading or incorrect, we assume no liability. If our experience does not match your personal experience, we assume no liability. Since nature is unpredictable, a similar experience cannot be guaranteed on a subsequent trip. Furthermore, circumstances can change. AGE™ does not guarantee topicality or completeness.

Source for: Eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi-Biéga National Park

Source reference for text research
Information on site, as well as personal experiences while gorilla trekking in the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park in February 2023.

Federal Foreign Office Germany (27.03.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX) Democratic Republic of the Congo: Travel and Safety Advice (Partial Travel Warning). [online] Retrieved on 29.06.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX from URL: https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/ReiseUndSicherheit/kongodemokratischerepubliksicherheit/203202

Gorilla Doctors (22.07.2021/25.06.2023/XNUMX) Gorilla Doctors Rescue Grauer's Gorilla from Snare. [online] Retrieved on XNUMX/XNUMX/XNUMX from URL: https://www.gorilladoctors.org/gorilla-doctors-rescue-grauers-gorilla-from-snare/

Parc National de Kahuzi-Biega (2019-2023) Prices For the visit of the Gorillas. [online] Retrieved on 07.07.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX, from URL: https://www.kahuzi-biega.com/tourisme/informations-voyages/tarifs/

Müller, Mariel (April 06.04.2022, 25.06.2023) Deadly violence in the Congo. [online] Retrieved on XNUMX/XNUMX/XNUMX from URL: https://www.dw.com/de/kongo-t%C3%B6dliche-gewalt-im-nationalpark/a-61364315

Safari2Gorilla Tours (2022) Homepage of Safari2Gorilla Tours. [online] Retrieved on 21.06.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX, from URL: https://safarigorillatrips.com/

Tounsir, Samir (12.10.2019/25.06.2023/XNUMX) High-stakes conflict threatens DR Congo gorillas. [online] Retrieved on XNUMX/XNUMX/XNUMX from URL: https://phys.org/news/2019-10-high-stakes-conflict-threatens-dr-congo.html

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