14-Days Kahuzi Biega National Park safari Begins and ending in Kigali, Rwanda the 14 days outlined below will take you through the most incredible aspects of The Democratic Republic of the Congo(DRC). With thousands of square kilometers that is essentially untouched and in pristine condition, the DRC is home to an array of species of both flora and fauna that cannot be found anywhere else on this Earth! Whether it is trekking in the deep jungle to experience one of the most incredible animals on Earth, the Eastern Lowland Gorilla, in their natural habitat and one of the only places on Earth they reside, or walking over East Africa’s highest forest canopy with a view that cannot be matched, that brings you to the DRC you have come to the right place! In addition to the incredible views, landscapes, scenery, lush, verdant, rainforests, and animals, the people of the DRC are some of the warmest, hospitable and lovely you will come across. Packed with incredible activities, and experiences, below we have outlined 14 days that are sure to alter your perspective and will likely be marked as a life-changing experience!
LowLand Gorilla trekking
Accommodating the largest gorilla specie (the eastern lowland gorillas) in the whole world, the national park has become a top attraction for lowland gorilla tours in Africa. Two eastern lowland gorilla families have been habituated and ready for trekking, which has provided travelers with a lifetime experience. Due to the close relativeness of the gorilla specie with human beings (98.8% human genes) making them susceptible to human diseases, masks have been provided to all trekkers to avoid the spread of human wildlife diseases. Trekking gorillas entail hiking in the tropical rainforest following different trails depending on where the family slept last night. Hiking time can range from 30 minutes to six hours in the jungle but an hour strictly is spent interacting with the gorilla after reaching them.
Travelers learn how gorillas play different roles in their respective families, silver back as dads defending and planning for the entire family, adult females nursing the babies whereas the juveniles playing and entertaining the whole family. This interaction gives trekkers a real family experience like that of human beings. An hour spent with the gorillas is a lifetime experience that every traveler lives to tell about.
Tourism in kahuzi biega does not only entail it does not stop at gorillas but also hiking the volcanoes. There are two inactive volcanic mountains within the heart of the national park, which trekkers participate in hiking. Mount kahuzi is the highest sanding at an elevation of 3,308meters above sea level. Alongside mount kahuzi, Biega is yet another in active volcano in the national park which stand at 2,790m above sea level. The summits of the two volcanoes provide travelers with clear views of entire national park, wildlife there and the neighboring communities and countries. More still, bamboo and subalpine vegetation, which harbor various animals, cover these volcanoes hence providing travelers a chance to encounter animals such as owl-faced monkeys and a variety of birds.
Being a home to approximately 342 bird species 42 0f that are endemic to the national park, kahuzi biega is a paradise for great lovers of birds. Among the birds spotted include African green broad bill, yellow crested helmet-shrike, Congo peafowl and Rockefeller’s and many others. The national park is one of the threatened sites put under the protection of the international union conservation area (IUCN).
Travelers here follow trails in the tropical rainforest to different tourism sites. These trails lead to different sites such as the Tshibiti waterfalls trails to three waterfalls in the national park. Experienced guides lead travelers and help in spotting different vegetation types and wildlife in the national park. Sweet sounds of birds singing up in the trees are heard by the travelers and of course fresh air which freshens the minds of traveler. By the time travelers leave the forest; they have clear minds and more knowledge about wildlife in the national park hence a memorable experience.
Where to sleep
Kahuzi biega national park is served by several lodging and accommodation facilities, which offer high quality food and bed services. These include Lodgecoco lodge and L’Orchids safari club among others. Both high end and low budget travelers are assured of quality services at affordable prices that they live to remember.
Your tour will begin form Kigali today. Please note the best route for most in terms of visas in Rwanda at this time (2018) is to obtain a Visa On Arrival for a cost of about $30. From here you will drive to Gatuna Border Post in the Noth with Uganda. The drive today is approximately 90kms. Here you can also obtain a Visa on Arrival for about $50. Once all the necessary border formalities have been completed, you will drive approximately 250kms north-west to the Kasindi border with the Congo. In total form the Kigali Airport to the Kasindi border it will take about 9. Therefore, we choose to stop at Queen Elizabeth National Park and overnight at the wonderful ‘Marafiki Safari Lodge. The Lodge is in an incredible location overlooking Lake George in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Complete with breathtaking views across the park and the Savannah Plains, and the Rwenzori Mountains. Here you will enjoy private luxury safari tents.
This morning after breakfast, you will begin the drive to the Kasindi border. The drive this morning will be approximately 70kms. At the border, you will be met by our representatives to complete the necessary border formalities before proceeding to Beni. From Kasindi to Beni, the total driving length is about 80kms, or about 2 hours. Once you have reached Beni today, you will be transferred to your hotel for the evening.
Around 6:30 am this morning you will make your way toward Kisangani. Today is a long journey that may total up to 15 hours to drive the distance that is approximately 670kms on an un-paved road. Throughout the drive today about 400kms will be within “North Kivu Province”. Here you will pass Reserve de Okapis – though it is mainly located in the province of Lturi, it is party shared with North Kivu’s north-western area. To break up the long drive to Kisangani, we will stope here and spend the night at a hotel near Okapi. We will enjoy lunch before visiting the Reserve de Faune a Okapi.
This morning will be another early moring. After breakfast we will begin the next leg of the jounrey and cross over into the province of Tshopo. Here we will proceed with the necessary immigration formalities before proceeeding. After another 300kms, we will reach the city of Kisangani (formerly known as Stanleyville). Here we will overnight in the Rwenzori Hotel. The city of Kisangani is well-known for being quite a safe location and very peaceful at that. Perhaps what the city is most famous for is the Wagenia Falls and the traditional fishing traps that the local fishermen use here)
At approximately 6am this morning you will leave for Domaine de Chasse, Rubi Tele, before Buta in the province of Bas-Huele. We will arrive here around 3pm this afternoon. On route, we will have to cross the river at Banalia with a Bac that will carry both vehicles and passengers across the river. The road we travel on today is incredible – though not paved- is still very enjoyable. Once we have met and touched base with the ICCN staff at the Domaine de Chasse in Sukisa, we will then proceed to the town of Buta (provincial capital of Bas-Huel) and spend the night there at a local hotel.
Right around 6 am, after breakfast this morning, we will drive back south to Domaine de Chasse. The drive here is approximately 1.5 hours. Once you have registered with we will enter the forest with our park rangers/guides. We will begin our trekking in search of the prized Okapi, in addition to many other animals such as elephants, golden cat, bonobo, mouse-deer, Congolese Peafowl, Grey Parrot, hippos, and much more. Dinner and overnight tonight in the forest in our tents.
This morning we will begin our trek back to the entrance. As we trek back you are will see more animals – likely different ones than you experienced on the way in. We will return back to Buta this evening to spend the night. Dinner and overnight at Buta Hotel.
This morning at approximately 6:30 am we will begin the drive back to Kisangani reaching the city around 3:30pm. We will enjoy lunch together and then have free time for the afternoon. To rest or relax at the Ruwenzori Hotel. Dinner will be at ‘Tulipe Lebanese Restaurant’this evening after which we will return back to the hotel for the evening.
Located just west of Kisangani in the Congo Basin, Yangambi Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO site dominated by over 30,000 species of trees. Amongst the trees, you will also find plenty of wildlife that includes monkeys and elephants. During the colonial era, the reserve was set up as a research station and remnants of this can still be found here. The UNESCO site continues to be a wonderful tool for research and the now called Yangambi Biosphere Reserve has been established as a means of research, conservation, and education. After early breakfast this morning at about 6am we will drive towards Yangambi in the North West which is about 90 kms and will take around 3.5 hours to reach. As we drive, we will pass the River Lindi by ferry for approximately 15 kilometers and will then continue on for the rest of the drive before reaching the INERA Research Center of Yangambi. After a visit to the center, we will then visit the residence of the Royal Belgium King. It was only in April of this year (2018) that the Ambassador of Belgium, followed by Ambassador of France visited the residence and stayed inside for more than an hour. Around 11am this morning, after your visit to the residence of the Belgium King, we will visit the IFA University of Yangambi about 5 kms from there. Here you will see the plantation of Palm trees, afromosia or afrormosia (African teak), the precious black trunk trees and a few more varieties. Also worth noting is the fact that there is also a plantation of different varieties of coffee and cocoa here. In the Yangambi Reserve forest, there is an incredible and diverse range of beautiful trees some with trunks the size of 3 meters. This afternoon around 2pm, we will head to the restaurant for lunch and a well-deserved rest. At 2pm our adventure will commence. Making our way to the river crossing, you will have to cross the river by pirogue (motorized canoe) as the ferry service will be closed now. From the other side of the river, you will transfer to another vehicle waiting and drive back to the hotel. Drop off at your accommodation in Kisangani.
This morning you will be transferred to the Kisangani Airport for your domestic flight to Goma. (Note: there are only 2 or 3 flights per per week, Sunday, Monday, and Thursday) As you arrive in Goma, you will be transferred to Lac Kivu Lodge. Upon arrival you will endjoy lunch before visiting the Lac Vert (Green Lake) that is near Gome. Lac Vert will be followed by a visit to Lac Noir (Black Lake), if permitted by the local church. Today we will also have a chance to visit the site of the local pygmies and then a visit to the local Virunga Marche to feel the real Congo. Late this evening we will drive back to Nyumbani Lounge / ‘Le Chalet to enjoy dinner before returning to Lac Kivu Lodge.
After breakfast, we will drive to Emmanuel Port and take the big ‘Emmanuel Boat’ to Bukavu. We will enjoy a nice buffet lunch on board the boat today. Today we will reach the Bukavu Port at around 12pm. From the Port, we will transfer to Lodge Coco to check-in. Once you are all checking in, you will transfer to the IITA (International Institute of Tropical Agriculture) Research Fish pond and the cathedral of Bukavu. This afternoon we will return to Coco Lodge for a great dinner. Overnight at Coco Lodge. Night stay at the Lodge.
Named after the two incredible extinct volcanoes which dominate its high altitude sector, Mont Kahuzi (3,308 m) and Mont Biega (2,790 m), the Kahuzi Biega National Park (KBNP) was gazette to conserve the Grauer’s gorilla (Gorilla Beringei Graueri), the world’s largest gorilla species. It remains the only place in the world where visitors can see these gorillas in the wild. Covering an area of over 6000 square kilometers, the park protects a mountain forest in Eastern Congo. KBNP is one of the biggest reserves serving to conserve flora and fauna in Central Africa’s high mountain regions. At approximately 6 am this morning you will be picked up from Coco Lodge and you will drive to the park. Once you arrive, you will be briefed by the park staff, enjoy a cup of coffee and then enter the park to begin trekking for the Eastern Lowland Gorilla. Typically, the trek will be from 1-2 hours in search of the group of Gorillas. Once the trekking is finished today you will drive to Lwiro where the Scientific Research Center is located. Here you will have a chance to visit the Chimps sanctuary, museum, and library. From here we will have lunch at a local restaurant in Lwiro / Packet. This evening we head back to our hotel for some much-needed relaxation.
Nyungwe Forest National Park that covers over 1000 square kilometers lies in the southwestern corner of Rwanda and is an acclaimed Chimpanzee trekking location and is also home to East Africa’s only canopy walkway! Dating back thousands of years, the rainforest of Nyungwe holds more orchid species than you’ve ever seen and is home to birds that cannot be found anywhere else in the world! In addition to the lovely orchids and birds – the forest is also home to a plethora of vicious lurking snakes! An adventure to say the least! Nyungwe forest is probably the most preserved forest in Africa. Some say it is the most important site for biodiversity in Rwanda as is home to over 1000 species of creation. In the Forest, there are over 300 different bird species, many butterflies, orchids, 75 mammal species including the 13 primates, and there have also been the sightings of the golden monkeys. Today after breakfast, you will be transferred from your hotel and begin the drive to the border of Rwanda at Rusizi 1. After immigration formalities have been sorted, you will transfer into another vehicle to begin the drive to Nyungwe Forest for trekking. Once you have completed your desired amount of trekking today you will drive to Nyungwe Top View Hotel for the night.
This morning after the last breakfast of your trou, you can either return back to Kigali or whatever destination you are headed for. You can be dropped at the Kigali airport or town, just let us know!