Located in the heart of Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo is a country found in central Africa recognized as the second largest country in Africa with a population of over 84 million people. It was initially referred to as Zaire, but later transformed to the current name and now with a capital city called Kinshasa. It neighbors Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi, Republic of Congo, Somalia, central republic, Zambia, Angola and South Sudan. This country is well known for ever green vegetation beautiful rivers, mountains and the fascinating gorillas. The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to the endangered eastern lowland gorillas (Grauer gorilla) that are a subspecies to the eastern gorillas. These reside in the lowland and Albertine rift of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is estimated that there are about 4000 individual gorillas in the country and these are situated in the conservation areas of Virunga national park and Kahuzi-Biega national park.
Virunga national park is found in the eastern region of Democratic republic of Congo. This park inhabits two active volcanoes; Mount Nyiragongo and Mount Nyamuragira, beautiful flora and fauna which 300 are endemic to the park, not to forget it’s also a home of 604 individual gorillas both mountain and the eastern lowland gorillas. Kahuzi-Biega national park is another destination where gorilla trekking safaris are favored due the presence of eastern lowland gorillas that are found in the park’s two sectors. The park is habitat for about 170 individual lowland gorillas that are found in the highland sector, and for the lowland sector the numbers are estimated to be fewer due to the political instabilities. These two national parks have been a great attraction for gorilla safaris in D.R.C due to the presence of lowland and mountain gorillas. Before encountering a gorilla safari in one of these two parks, one is required to possess a gorilla permit that can give access to the trekking of gorillas. The gorilla permits can be got directly from the park offices and up to 64 permits are available each day. Each permit costs $400, making gorilla trekking in Congo the cheapest and favorable to most tourists. A group of 8 trekkers is allowed to visit each gorilla family in the parks and are allowed to spend one hour interaction with these great species.
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Gorilla Trekking Congo Safaris
It is advisable to trek gorillas in the months of July to September since these are the driest months, for the forest has slippery and steep trails. Gorilla trekking in the national parks begin at around 8:00am and depending of the location and where the gorillas spent the night, gorilla trekking takes about 1 to 2 hours. Gorilla safaris in Congo are only open to individuals above 15 years, for the available permits issued validate only members above that age limit. Besides gorilla safaris in Congo, the country has more to offer including golden monkey trekking, wildlife viewing, hiking, cultural encounters, boat rides and scenic view among others.
As you enjoy your gorilla safari in Congo, there are number of accommodation facilities around the national parks that reside the gorillas. These facilities range from hotels, lodges, camps and inns among others. These make your travel well planned as you don’t have to worry about where to stay during your gorilla safari. A gorilla safari experience in Congo is like no other as you witness the interesting livelihoods of gorillas, while feeding on the forest harvest, playing and swinging from the tree branches, how they interact with the natural surrounding is truly a lifetime experience. A gorilla safari is a must venture that everyone shouldn’t miss to include while planning a safari in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Gorilla trekking in Virunga national park is a lifetime experience that should be embraced by every primate lover, traveler, student, researcher, honeymooners, or a family out for a safari to Africa; it is an activity for both Congo residents and foreigners. The Democratic Republic of Congo is the second-largest country in Africa, located in the central part of African continent, with relatively good security, plenty of flora and fauna, geographical features, historical features, very hospitable natives who are color blind, tasty cuisine and amazing climate. Initially, the country was known as Belgian Congo under the government of the Belgian authority and then Zaire before the present day name, Democratic Republic of Congo. No memory remains in traveler's minds after a safari to the Democratic Republic of Congo like that of tracking either the eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega national park or the Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National park. There are several unique primate species found in these destinations such as the pygmy chimpanzees (bonobo), unique bird species, great water bodies, unspoiled tropical forest and historical mountains among others.
We now take you to Virunga national park where you will encounter your closest relatives, the mountain Gorillas with 98% human DNA and characters yet living in the wilderness. The park is situated in the Eastern region of Democratic Republic of Congo, around the Albertine Rift Valley found in the Virunga chain of mountains that also covers Uganda and Rwanda. Virunga national park covers approximately 3,120sq.km of land and was listed among the world's Heritage sites in 1994, as one of the gazetted areas in Africa, meant to protect the endangered mountain gorillas which were being hunted down by poachers who sought after their gains. The park has emerged strongly from the aftermath of rebel attacks that brought tourist activities to a standstill for over 5years. Tourists from all walks of life can now enjoy a lifetime opportunity of tracking the only surviving yet endangered mountain gorillas which are only found in Africa; Bwindi national park and Mgahinga national park in Uganda, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in Congo.
Gorilla trekking in Virunga national park runs all year round, though the best time is December to February or June to early September, during the dry season. At this time, the ground is firm that enables easy trekking, the gorillas tend to be exposed since the tree leaves are shed off and the bush is clear and no abrupt rain to disorganize the adventure. The trekking exercise starts at 8:30 am, local time with a pre-trekking briefing early in the morning at the park's headquarters whereby the park rangers explain to the tourists all the dos and don'ts of gorilla trekking, verify their documents, give porters to assist in carrying the luggage and then allocate members to the different gorilla families of your choice before accompanying you to the Jungle, together with well-trained security personnel.
Gorilla families in Virunga National Park. Tourists are free to track any of the eight gorilla families mentioned below; Kabirizi Gorilla family, composed of over 19 members, Humba Gorilla family which is the most humble group with 9members, Rugendo Gorilla family, one of the oldest family in the park, Mapuwa Gorilla family, Lulengo Gorilla family named after the former director of the park, Munyanga Gorilla family, known for baldheaded silverback, Nyakamwe Gorilla family, which is among the newly habituated groups, as well as Bageni Gorilla family.
There is no specific time frame for gorilla trekking because the gorillas have a mentality of roaming freely around their territory, and not sleeping in one place. So depending on your trekking speed and how far the gorilla family you are searching for has moved, the activity can last for 2-6 hours, with one hour rewarded to you by the park ranger, to take photos, and watch the young stars play, mothers, nurse their young ones or make nests for the night, the dominant silverback monitor the group, and the adolescents climb trees. Only those aged 15 and above are allowed to engage in gorilla trekking in Virunga National park, with permits being sold at 400usd, per-person per-day, the cheapest of all gorilla trekking destinations.
Some of the dos and don'ts the park rangers will tell you during the meeting include; no littering the park, no using your flash while taking photos, avoiding noise, standing 7mtrs away from the gorillas, no looking straight to the eyes of these creatures, covering your mouth while coughing because gorillas and other primates are vulnerable to human illnesses such as cough and flue.
We advise that as you plan for your gorilla trekking safari in Virunga national park, but the following items in your minds; a professional camera for classic photos, passport, trekking permit, medical documents, hand gloves to protect your hands against the rough tree branches or thorn, rain jacket, strong hiking boots, long-sleeved shirts, a pair of stockings, water container for carrying water to quench your thirst during the escapade, binoculars, and a hut among others. In case you find that trekking while carrying your luggage is hard, ask for the help of a porter, at a small fee. You can access Virunga national park using road, water, or air transport, via Uganda or Rwanda. Accommodation at Park Range from Budget, midrange to Luxury, with the most notable ones being Kibumba Tented Camp, Mikeno lodge and Bukima Tented lodge among others. Summing it up, mountain gorilla trekking is a very exciting activity done only in Africa all year round, it requires that you book at least six months in advance because the permits are limited to only eight people per-day yet they are on high demand.
Lowland Gorilla Trekking Congo
Kahuzi Biega is one of the largest national parks in Democratic Republic of Congo with an area of 6,000 sq.km. This national park is composed of both lowland and mountain terrains. Located on the eastern side of D.R.C near the town of Bukavu; it also neighbors the western side of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border. Kahuzi-Biega national park is a protected area that was established in 1970 by a Belgian conservationist and photographer Adrien Deschryver. This park was named before two dormant volcanoes that exist in its boundaries; Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega. The eastern lowland gorillas (Grauer’s gorilla) are a subspecies of the eastern gorillas, endemic to the thick forests of Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the largest subspecies of the four due giant built bodies. The eastern lowland gorillas are critically endangered due to their fewer number can be trekked only in Kahuzi-Biega national park.
Kahuzi-Biega national park has about 182 individual gorillas with nine gorilla families that are trekked on a Congo safari these include; Chimanuka family, Mugaruka family, Mpungwe family, Marhale family, Mwinja family, Mwira family, Bonnai family, Mugaruka family and Ngawa family. Only the Chimanuka family and Mugaruka family are the only habituated gorilla families that are visited by the tourists. Gorilla trekking is Kahuzi-Biega national park is an exceptional experience where one gets to see the large eastern lowland gorillas in their national habitant.
Trekking of these beauties would require one to acquire a gorilla permit that costs $400 for trek in the ever green forest. Before the trek a briefing at the park headquarters about the dos and don’ts while trekking and also a gorilla family is allocated to the trekking group depending on their physical fitness. The less fit trekkers are assigned to their near found gorilla families. Also while on this trek, it is required to carry packed lunch and bottle of water and in proper attire for the trek as the finding of a particular gorilla family may take about 2 to 6hours depending on their location of the lowland gorillas thus, spending the whole day. You will have a chance to witness these eastern lowland gorillas as they live their interesting human like day life.
You will have a glimpse of these species playing, feeding on the forest harvest, resting in their nets, chasing and have the amazing sound of their vibrant vocalizations. Keeping memories though videography and photography is a must do while trekking the beauties of the forest. Besides gorilla trekking in the park other activities like birding with 342 species, 42 endemics to the park, natural walks where you see a variety of beautiful vegetation of the park, hiking of volcanoes; Mount Kahuzi and mount Biega and the Lwiro primate centre visit a chimpanzee sanctuary near the park. Gorilla trekking in Kahuzi-Biega national park is advised to be carried out during the long dry season to avoid the slippery trails in the park. Also during the trek, you will be led the parks guide who knows the different trails that lead to a particular gorilla family, more so explaining the other different attractions that will be seen as you trek the great lowland gorillas.
Unfortunately, after gorilla trekking in Kahuzi-Biega national park, one can’t sleep inside the park since most of the accommodation facilities are found out the park in Bukavu town, and for budget travellers they are campsites in the park that can be used after the trek. For lodges some include Exodus lodge, Lake Side Hotel, and Coco Lodge Bukavu. The trekking of the eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega is truly an experience like no other that one shouldn’t miss on their Congo safari.
The eastern lowland gorilla or Grauer’s gorilla is located and endemic to the forests of democratic republic of Congo. The gorilla beringei grauer or eastern lowland gorilla is a subspecies of the eastern gorilla. The lowland gorillas are endemic to the D.R. Congo as their existence is found only in this country not else in the world. These species are also highly endangered due to diseases, poaching and a high rate of insecurity in the country that lead to a number of attacks to these species. Gorilla trekking is an activity where one hikes and treks gorillas in their natural habitat to have a one on one encounter with these beautiful species. Trekking usually happens in the mountainous and lowland locations where the gorillas reside. As you witness the interesting lifestyle of the gorillas in their ever green home. Lowland gorilla trekking takes place in two significant national parks of democratic republic of Congo; these include Maiko national park and Kahuzi-Biega national park.
Maiko national park is a national park found in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, this park is well known for accommodating the Okapi, Congo peafowl and the gorillas endemic to only this park in its three sectors; Maniema, Nord Kivu and province Orientale. According to the recent reports, it’s said Maiko national park has about 15 individual gorillas remaining, but still worth a visit.
Trekking Lowland Gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega National Park. Kahuzi-Biega national park is a protected area in eastern Congo, near Bukavu town. This national park is famously known for housing the eastern lowland gorillas. It is also the biggest national park in Democratic Republic of Congo named after the two Volcanic mountains; i.e. Mountain Kahuzi and Mountain Biega. This national park is recorded to have about 181 eastern lowland gorillas. In Kahuzi-Biega national park, there are about 9 gorilla families of which 5 are habituated and ready for trekking, these include the Mwira family, Mwinja family, Marhale family, Mpungwe family, Mugaruka family and Chimanuka family. For Maiko national park, the lowland gorilla families available for trekking are not clearly mentioned in most sources.
Before encountering lowland gorilla trekking one need to acquire a trekking permit to validate their trekking in the desired national parks. The gorilla permit is valid of only single trek and cannot be used by another individual or re-used for another trekking experience. It is advised to book the trek before the actual activity. The permits cost about $400 each and is issued to only individuals above the age of 15 years of age. Also before trekking the eastern lowland gorillas, a briefing is done to insight the self-conduct while in the jungle trekking the beautiful gorillas. The briefing takes place before the trek at the park headquarters.
A group of only 8 individuals are allowed to trek the lowland gorillas as this helps to reduce congestion that would threaten health of these primate species. The trek usually begins at around 8 am, so it’s better to report to the park earlier to fully prepare for the amazing experience. Lowland gorilla trekking usually takes about 2 to 6 hours depending on the location of a gorilla family in the jungle and the trekkers are allowed to spend only one hour witnessing the natural beauty of the gorillas that find home in the ever green forest. This one-hour encounter consists of photography, videography and sightseeing as watch gorillas play, rest, feed and the creative use of tools by man’s closest cousins.
On the trek, you will be led by the park guides who will direct you to the location of gorillas due to the previous day’s location, and will also explain the other attractions found in the forest that include birds, vegetation, trees and the numerous animals found in the park. While experiencing lowland gorilla trekking, one shouldn’t be worried about where to stay for a number of accommodation facilities are offered to ease the experience in the neighboring towns. Eastern lowland gorilla trekking is an experience like none in the world and only available in the Democratic Republic of Congo, thus while preparing and planning your Congo safari, lowland gorilla trekking is one activity that you shouldn’t miss out.