The Democratic Republic of Congo is the only country that inhabit the Eastern Lowland Gorillas. These great apes, the largest of all gorilla species have been put on the IUCN redlist of the Critically Endangered Species. With just a few Eastern gorillas left in the whole world, watching these great apes in the wild is one of the most thrilling wildlife experiences that you can enjoy in Kahuzi Biega National Park, in Eastern Congo.
Do you know where the largest gorillas in the world live? Gorillas are globally known as the biggest Apes and given the fact that the Eastern Lowland gorillas are one of the few sub species in the world; they are only seen in Kahuzi Biega National Park and Maiko National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Eastern Lowland gorillas are some times called gorilla beringei graueri, the first sub species of gorillas to be visited by travelers in 1970’s. Eastern Lowland gorilla tracking in Kahuzi Biega National Park is the rarest gorilla experience in the world that comes once in a life time. The park is one of the biggest protected areas in DRC making a home to over 250 Eastern Lowland gorillas.
Habituated gorilla groups mean that gorillas are used to human presence given the fact that habituation process takes about 2 years. Kahuzi Biega National Park had its first habituated silverback gorilla (Casimir) that passed away in 1974. By 1980 the park had about 4 habituated gorilla families. The silverback gorillas that led these groups included Mushamuka, Maheshe, Ninja and Mubalala. Eastern Lowland gorilla trekking became popular after the release of the movie “Gorillas in the Mist” just in 1988’s.
For visitors interested in gorilla safaris, Kahuzi Biega National Park can easily be reached if you are using one of the trusted tour operators that will help you connect to DRC for gorilla tracking. If you are in Kigali, Rwanda you can connect to Kamembe then to the park or from Burundi that where you will spend about three hours to arrive at the park while visitors who are in Goma town they can reach the park on road and water. There are faster boats for you to sail across the water to on land and it is just a 2 hour cruise or slow one at six hours through Lake Kivu. In terms of security as we are all aware about DRC instabilities, currently there is much improvement as far as security is concerned in Kahuzi Biega National Park.
Concerning gorilla groups at Kahuzi Biega National Park, there are over 36 families but only two are fully habituated for visitors to track these fascinating primates. There are also two more groups that are still under going habituation and this will increase opportunities for visitors to track gorillas at Kahuzi Biega National Park. Each of the habituated gorilla groups are tracked by strictly eight visitors.
The two habituated gorilla families in Kahuzi Biega National Park include the Chimanuka and Mpungwe gorilla family.
Chimanuka gorilla group:
A group that derived its name from a dominant silverback gorilla called “Chimanuka.” It is a famous group with over 36 eastern lowland gorillas for visitors to track. The group is comprised of 17 female gorillas, 18 young gorillas aged between six and nine years. Visiting this remarkable gorilla group is the most fascinating experience in life as it offers you opportunity to sight at its four popular sets of twins some thing that has never taken place in any Eastern gorilla life.
Mugaruka gorilla family:
The gorilla silverback Mugaruka lost his right hand to poachers trap. Its name denotes the last born of the sons of the late patriarch, Mushamuka. Mugaruka was born in 1987 and by three years, he was unfortunately trapped in poachers snares and hence loss of his hand. In 1997, at the age of 10 years (an old black back gorilla), Mugaruka succeeded his father’s gorilla group-Mushamuka. Unfortunately, between 1999 and 2007, Mugaruka silverback continuously faced territorial struggles with other gorillas some thing that made him to lose his female gorilla known as Lushasha and his first born son known as Cubaka which was born in 2000 and this explains why Mugaruka is still a single gorilla group.
Where to Stay in Kahuzi Biega National Park
The Orchid Safari Lodge a four star mid-range lodge offers you the best possible experience in gorilla .This sleek and elegantly decorated hotel offers a mixture of contemporary and traditional African styles. An hour from Bukavu, along Lake Kivu, you can discover Kahuzi Biega National Park. The hotel is clean, well decorated and its restaurant provides a good variety of fine cuisine. Obscenely beautiful oasis, perfect to forget where you are. Great, clean rooms, fantastic grounds & views, 1hr free kayak use on Lake Kivu, free Wi-Fi (via daily vouchers and constant disconnects, but good enough to get work done and even have Skype calls). Nice restaurant and breakfast. The downside of everything is the price, which is totally out of proportion.
Coco lodge is a luxury lodge. Lodge Coco is a wonderful place. It is a bit on the expensive side, compared to comparable places, but it has consistent electricity and occasionally good internet, a fabulous ambience, great food, and friendly staff. The color scheme, brown and yellow, is a bit weird, but that’s the thing about Coco – it just feels real. It isn’t an ersatz…, a nice and cozy little hotel. The rooms are spacey and clean. Carlos, the owner, is very kind and eager to help organizing trips, especially for watching gorillas in the national park. The food in the restaurant is really good, especially the pizza.
Hotel Horizon is one with in the budget. Hotel Horizon is a nice hotel in Bukavu. The staffs are helpful and make an effort to please. Rates are reasonable – good value. Well equipped for business meetings large and small. Pleasant courtyard with lawn and landscaping for outdoor meetings. It’s placed little away from the main road. Has the potential of developing good reputations. Rooms are of good size and some of them ensure good view of Lake Kivu. It is a basic hotel so don’t expect luxury. But it is a good basic hotel at a reasonable price. There is free Wi-Fi in the rooms, a desk and a mosquito net. With the availability of Nature Adventure Uganda, all the lodges are easily accessed. You only need to book in advance such that all the preparations can be made in time at your preferred lodge. Enjoy your safari with your preferred lodge.
In conclusion, Eastern Lowland gorilla tracking is the most fascinating adventure in DRC and visitors have only two options to track these spectacular creatures in the wild. Don’t miss to visit Kahuzi Biega National Park for a life time experience with the rare eastern lowland gorillas.