Kahuzi Beiga National park
Kahuzi Beiga National Park is one of the biggest national park in Democratic Republic of Congo covering 6,000km2 of land situated in the extreme Eastern corner of DRC in border with Rwanda and Lake Kivu in the western part of the park. In 1937, Kahuzi Beiga was a national forest reserve covering a small forested area until the year 1970 when it became a national park under the leadership of Belgium government after expanding it to cover the swampy areas, lowland areas and the entire forested areas. In 1980, the park was then declared a world heritage historical site to protect and preserve its vast vegetation cover filled with rain forest, swamps, dormant volcanic mountains of Mount Kahuzi and Mount Beiga where the park derived its name and wildlife species since the Park is a home to several species of wildlife ranging from primates such as Eastern Lowland Gorillas which are the largest species of Gorillas and yet the major primates seen in Virunga national park, Chimpanzees, several species of monkeys such as owl faced monkey, Angolan Black Monkeys, Blue monkeys, Red tailed monkeys, among others. Mammals in the park include; Elephants, forest hogs, buffaloes, antelopes, civet cats, Giant genet, squirrels, otters, several species of birds such as sunbirds, Crimsons wing among others seen in the forest areas, swamps and in the plains of Kahuzi Beiga National park.
Tourist activities in Kahuzi Beiga national park
Eastern Low land gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Beiga: lowland gorilla trekking is one of the top most activities done in Kahuzi Beiga national park that takes primate lovers on a fascinating hike deep within the rainy forest in search of these endangered Eastern lowland gorilla species. Trekking these Eastern lowland gorillas lasts between 30 minutes to 6 hours or a full day depending on how fast the gorillas move in regards to the last location spotted in the previous night. Trekking Eastern lowland gorillas is abit interesting and less tiring than trekking mountain gorillas because Eastern lowland gorillas prefer to reside in the areas of low altitude unlike mountain gorillas which prefer areas with high altitude. a permit to trek Eastern lowland gorillas costs $ 400 per person equivalent to a permit to trek endangered mountain gorillas implying that one can do double gorilla treks at $800 both in Virunga national park and in Kahuzi Beiga all situated in Democratic Republic of Congo for an amazing comparison between the Eastern Lowland gorillas and the mountain gorillas. A gorilla trekking permit allows trekkers above 15 years to spend one with gorillas and also the permit comes with benefits such as park entrance fees, ranger fees and the convoy.
Guide nature walks in Kahuzi Beiga National park: The Park has well designated walking trails that enables tourists amidst tight security of the rangers and the local guides to explore different attractions in the park while on foot. Some of the trails in Kahuzi Beiga include; Tshibati trail that leads to the water falls, and trails that lead to various attractions such as swamps, forests, while sighting mammals, primates, birds and several species of trees in Kahuzi Beiga national park.
Volcano hiking in Kahuzi Beiga: The Park offers fascinating hiking experience to summit 3 beautiful dormant volcanos including Mount Kahuzi which is situated at an elevation of 3308M high that takes about 7-8 hours to make a complete circuit of summit the top and descending back. On the other hand, a hike to summit the top of mount Beiga at 2790m high and descend back takes about 6 hours and finally the hike to the summit of Mount Bugulumiza at an elevation of 2400m high takes about 3-4 hours to make around trip. All the hikes offer different attractions along the way such us a clear view of stunning vegetation cover , bamboo forest and tropical rain forest as well as wildlife such as primates, mammals, birds, butterflies etc.
Birding in Kahuzi Beiga: The park is not only famous for East lowland gorilla trekking but also attracts several birders throughout the year due to existence of over 300 species of birds that are evenly distributed in different parts of the park. Of the totals species of birds, some species are endemic to Albertine rift such as Ruwenzori turaco, African green broad bill, Crimsoning, sunbirds among others. The best birding time is during the short rains which are the months for breading and migratory birds.
Chimpanzee viewing in Kahuzi Beiga: Tourists on a Congo safari to Kahuzi Beiga are rewarded with an encounter with the orphaned chimpanzees with in Lwiro chimpanzee sanctuary. The sanctuary is also a home to other primates and mammals.
When is the best time to visit Kahuzi Beiga
Kahuzi Beiga is visited at any period of time all year round depending on which activity a tourist would wish to engage in. for instance, Kahuzi Beiga receives dry season during the months January and February, the park is dry thus the best months for walking safaris, hiking safaris, gorilla trekking and chimpanzee viewing while the rainy months in May to October are the best months for birding but any time is suitable for visiting Kahuzi Beiga.
How to get to the park / Getting to Kahuzi Beiga national park
Kahuzi Beiga national park is situated in Bukavu which is easily access through Rwanda.
From Kigali Rwanda, tourists access the park via Cyangugu border point and then connect to Bukavu. However since most of the flights in Rwanda land in the evening, I recommend an overnight in Kigali and head to the Cyangugu border point the next day which offers stunning views of the thrilling vegetation cover along the way and a stunning view of Lake Kivu.
On the other hand, tourists joining Kahuzi Beiga national park from Uganda have to first cross over into Rwanda via Cyanika border, grab an overnight in Musanze with a visit to Genocide memorial sites in Musanze and connect to Kahuzi Beiga national park in Bukavu the following day.
By water, Tourist can also opt to use a boat ride to access Musanze from Goma. This is also a fascinating experience as tourist sail on top of water while watching a lot of attractions such as the water birds, Mount Nyiragongo and many other clear view on top of the water.
Where to stay on a Congo safari to Kahuzi Beiga
Inside the park exists no accommodations but rather camping sites for tourists who prefer camping. All accommodations are situated in Bukavu town and they offer all services including luxury, midrange and budget. Some of these accommodations include; Exodus Bukavu, Hotel Begonias Bukavu, Lake Side Hotel Bukavu, Coco Lodge Bukavu, L’Orchids Safari Club, Mont Kahuzi hotel, Rugby guest house, Exodus hotel, Horizon hotel and many more that offers comfortable rest for travelers on a Congo safari to Kahuzi Beiga national park.