Lowland Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Africa
Lowland Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Africa
The Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo Brazzaville forms one of the few Eden’s in Africa to see the variety and high endangered wildlife like the Lowland gorillas, mountain gorillas, Bonobos, Okapi but the countries continue political instabilities has forced the country to be one of the lists visited countries in Africa due to its rich but less protected wildlife. There are two subspecies of the lowland gorillas found in the Democratic Republic of Congo the less threatened being the Eastern lowland and the Western lowland is critically endangered and the Republic of Congo still hosts one of Africa’s finest gorilla trekking destinations
Eastern lowland gorillas in Democratic Republic of Congo
The eastern lowland gorilla—also known as Grauer’s gorilla—is the largest of the four gorilla subspecies. It is distinguished from other gorillas by its stocky body, large hands, and short muzzle. Despite its size, eastern lowland gorillas subsist mainly on fruit and other herbaceous materials, just like other gorilla subspecies.
Years of civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have taken their toll on both the eastern lowland gorilla and the mountain gorilla. The eastern lowland gorilla makes its home in lowland tropical rain forests in the eastern DRC. In the last 50 years, its range has decreased from 8,100 square miles—about the size of the state of Massachusetts— to about 4,600 square miles today. This subspecies may now occupy only 13% of its historical range. There were nearly 17,000 eastern lowland gorillas in the mid-1990s but scientists estimate that the population has declined by more than 50% since then. An accurate accounting of the animals has been impossible for many years because of violence in the region.
Throughout the unrest, the gorillas have been vulnerable to poaching, even in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, home to the largest population of protected eastern lowland gorillas. Rebels and poachers invaded the park and people set up illegal mines. But, with help from WWF and other organizations, park staffs are re-establishing control over the land.
Western lowland gorillas in Congo Brazzaville
The western lowland gorilla is the most numerous and widespread of all gorilla subspecies. Populations can be found in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Equatorial Guinea as well as in large areas in Gabon and the Republic of Congo. The exact number of western lowland gorillas is not known because they inhabit some of the densest and remote rain forests in Africa. Significant populations still exist, including in isolated swamps and the remote swampy forests of the Republic of Congo.
Western lowland gorillas can be distinguished from other gorilla subspecies by their slightly smaller size, their brown-grey coats, and auburn chests. They also have wider skulls with more pronounced brow ridges and smaller ears. Large numbers have not protected the western lowland gorilla from decline. Because of poaching and disease, the gorilla’s numbers have declined by more than 60% over the last 20 to 25 years. Even if all of the threats to western lowland gorillas were removed, scientists calculate that the population would require at least 75 years recovering.
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Where to see the Lowland gorillas in Africa
The country’s eastern wildlife corridor is the only area where you can find both the Eastern and Western lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Biega national park and Maiko national park
Kahuzi Biega National Park DRC
Kahuzi Biega national park is a protected area near Bukavu town, situated in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo on the western bank of Lake Kivu and the Rwanda border. It is well known as a home for the surviving eastern lowland gorillas which is the biggest gorilla subspecies in the world. Currently, lowland gorillas are considered to be the most tourist attraction in the park. By appearance, the male Eastern lowland gorillas are marked by a jet black coat that becomes silver at a mature stage similar to that of mountain gorillas. The eastern lowland gorillas have large hands, shorter but huge body and have head hair.
Kahuzi Biega national park started as a zoological reserve in 1937 on the slopes of mount Kahuzi in order to provide protection to the eastern lowland gorillas by the Belgium colonial government. It was then established in 1970 by a Belgium photographer and conservationist called Adrien Deschryver. It was then declared a national park.
Odzala-Kokoua National Park Congo Brazzaville
Odzala kokoua is Africa’s oldest National park created in 1935 after Virunga national park in eastern Congo that is the home for the western Lowland gorillas, the park was designated in 1925. Odzala-Kokoua National Park is covering an extensive area of 13,500 km2 area as the park lies in the heart of the Congo Basin. The basin is the second-largest rain forest in the world, spanning more than two million square kilometers across six countries, and accounts for 18 percent of the world’s remaining rain forest. The biological diversity and endemic are extraordinary here, especially considering that humans have occupied the area for over 50,000 years.
Odzala National Park has had its share of ups and downs due to the unrest in the area and the clean waters of the national park will give you an excellent opportunity for boat canoeing as an extra Safari Activity apart from the western lowland gorilla trekking.
The national park is home to Western lowland gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo located within central Africa holding the most wildlife and primates.
Odzala National Park hosts approximately 4,500 plant and tree species. The vast majority of the park’s forest is open-canopy Marantaceae and these are the dependent facts for the list of things to be done in Odzala National Park Congo. These include Gorilla trekking which is the Western lowland gorillas, Canoeing, and Wildlife viewing.
Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo is a remote and vast tract of the globally important Congo Basin rain forest. With the largest concentration of western lowland gorillas in Africa, a high density of forest elephants, plus chimpanzees (rarely seen) and other primates, predators such as spotted hyenas and several, in fact over 100 mammal species, and rich bird wildlife, this is a hugely special forest reserve.
Groups are limited to 8 people and a maximum of 1 hour per day is allowed to view any 1 group of gorillas. Groups are expected to stand 7 meters from the gorillas. Anybody with colds, flu, or other respiratory conditions will not be allowed to track the gorillas and no children under the age of 15 years will be allowed in order to minimize the transfer of infections to them.
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All you need to know about Lowland Gorilla conservation in Africa
There are several reasons the Eastern lowland gorilla (Gorilla Beringei Graueri) and Western lowland gorillas are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. One is that their habitat has been cleared for farms and ranches, and the mines in the area which has caused severe degradation.
Deforestation in this area allows for the trade of bush meat and even more poaching. Bush meat hunting and timber harvesting in the western lowland gorillas habitat have negatively affected the probability of its survival. The western lowland gorilla is considered to be critically endangered by the IUCN.
Booking lowland gorilla permits in Africa
Booking things online can be easy but booking a gorilla permit may be just a bit tricky and this is where we considered Africa’s top safari operator as we are closely working with the Congolese national park organizations and through our close partnership we can book gorilla permits within the shortest time possible.
Congo gorilla permits cost USD 400 per gorilla permit person per day and this will be booked before it’s guaranteed and we will fully secure that for you and organize an all-inclusive Exclusive Journey by design to see the critically endangered lowland gorillas in DR Congo.
Best time to trek Lowland gorillas in Africa
Located along with the straddles of the equator, the Republic of Congo is well-known for its tropical weather. Depending on your itinerary plan, there are often selected the best times to visit Congo and what to expect throughout the year. The best time to visit Congo is during the long dry season from May to September, with July markedly the driest month, followed by August and June. The temperature also drops ever so slightly during these months. There is a shorter dry period in January and February. The higher regions of Virunga and Nyiragongo Volcano will provide welcome relief from the stuffiness.
If you are probably looking for the best time to visit Congo, then you should think of the period between Mid-May to October based on average temperature and humidity from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, you can read more about the weather and climate structure in Congo to get the basic insights for an all year round safari expedition.
Gorilla trekking Rules for Lowland Gorillas in Africa
- No one with a communicable disease, such as flu or diarrhea, is allowed to visit the Gorillas.
- Do not surround the Gorillas but remain in a tight group.
- Leave a distance of at least 5m between you and the Gorillas.
- If they approach you, move back slowly.
- Flash photography is strictly forbidden.
- Do not eat or smoke within 200m of the Gorillas.
- If you need to sneeze or cough, turn away from the gorillas and cover your nose and mouth.
- Bury all human waste in a hole, dug at least 30cm deep and ensure that it is properly filled in afterward.
- All litter must be removed from the park for disposal.
- Do not spit on vegetation or soil while in the park.
- No person under 15 years is allowed to track Gorillas.
- When with the Gorillas, avoid making loud noises or sudden movements.
Preparation for Lowland gorilla trekking in Africa
What to pack before traveling to DR Congo is the key to a successful African safari experience as some parts of the content are remote and getting access to the areas can be tough and maybe nothing to buy below is a pack list
- Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support. Make sure your shoes are well worn in before departing to avoid any nasty blisters.
- Light, breathable, waterproof jackets and trousers, and long-sleeved shirts. It’s important to wear light, long layers due to the variable weather and to avoid any bites from insects.
- Warm layers for the chilly mornings and cold nights.
- Long, lightweight woolen socks.
- Wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses for sun protection.
- Toiletries such as sun cream, insect repellent, after-sun, bite relief cream, and lip balm.
- Garden gloves to protect your hands as you grip the vegetation during your trek.
- A small backpack to carry your water, lunch, extra clothes, binoculars, and a camera.
- Camera with extra lenses and batteries. Bring more memory than you think you need.
- Binoculars have a clear view of everything and spot other wildlife such as birds and monkeys.
- Snacks – the trek can be quite strenuous, lasting anywhere from two to nine hours, so bring some snacks for extra energy.
- A reusable water bottle to limit waste – you’ll need to bring plenty of drinking water on your trek.
- Multi-way travel adaptor. Rwanda uses plug types C (two round pins) and J (two round pins and a grounding pin) and operates on a 220V supply voltage and 50 Hz standard frequency.
Where to stay in DRC during Lowland gorilla trekking
Kahuzi-Biega National park offers accommodation though, in form of camping for visitors who do not wish to go camping way, there is accommodation offered by the nearest city of Bukavu which is high class, mid-range, budget, and basic accommodation during the safaris while in Congo. The standard luxury facilities will offer the visitors services that are extraordinary and these lodges are located usefully with attractive views of Lake Kivu such as L`Orchids safari club which offers a mix of contemporary and traditional African Style decorations.
- L’Orchids safari club
Where to stay in Odzala-Kokoua National Park
Unlike other national parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Odzala Kokoua has an improved tourism service which makes your western lowland gorilla trekking experience exceptional.
Ngaga Camp is the first stop on your itinerary and is the base for visiting the gorillas. It is a smart luxury camp with just six rooms and tucked into a thick rain forest, its location creating a wonderful and unique atmosphere
At Mboko Camp, the largest 12-room camp set along the Lekoli River provides you with spectacular star-viewing opportunities before you fall asleep to the sounds of life-giving water flowing to meet the Congo River, and also offers access to nearby villages on the fringes of the Park, where you can meet and interact with local people.
Each camp has only 6 sensitively designed rooms that take inspiration from the hearts of the local pygmy or forest dweller people. Locally produced sustainably harvested materials were extensively used in the construction of the camps and they were designed to blend in perfectly with the surroundings. Each room was raised 3-4 meters from the ground to minimize the impact on fragile ground plants with a wraparound walkway to allow full appreciation of the forest canopy.
How to get to Odzala-Kokoua National Park
Odzala can be reached either by road or by air from Brazzaville. All visitors to Odzala are required to first visit Brazzaville to complete immigration and customs formalities. Visitors requiring a visa first need to obtain a letter of invitation (LOI) that is authorized by the Congolese immigration authorities with their official stamp. The Congo Conservation Company will establish a letter of invitation and assist in the authorization process.
From Brazzaville, there are several options for reaching the Odzala Discovery Camps, but the quickest and most convenient is by air. CCC has organized a weekly departure each Thursday, which corresponds with the Odzala Discovery 7 night itinerary. Guests may check in one 23kg bag on the charter flight.
For guests seeking a different itinerary, it is possible to arrange a special private charter flight to or from Odzala.
The other options are by road, including self-driving (this option is for people who live in Congo to have access to a 4 x4 vehicle). If you are interested in this option please first Inquire.
Otherwise, it is possible to access the camps by road in the 26 seat Toyota Coaster bus that takes you from Brazzaville to the Etoumbi, where the tar road ends. At Etoumbi you will then cross the Likouala-Moussaka River by pontoon barge and continue on the laterite road through the forest to the Camps in one of the game viewers. The trip by road is long (14 hours), but provides a different perspective as one passes through the various landscapes of the Congolese countryside.
How to Get to Kahuzi-Biega national park
Kahuzi Biega National Park has located 30 km from Bukavu Town and it takes one and Half Drive to enter the National Park and it can be accessed by road and by air however travelers have to understand that from Kavumu airport and at Miti, take left and keep going straight until you reach the visitor center
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THINGS TO DO
|Filming the Eastern Lowland gorillas in DRC|
|Filming western Lowland Gorillas in Congo Brazzaville|
|Photographing the Eastern Lowland gorillas in DRC|
|Photographing the western Lowland Gorillas in Congo Brazzaville|
|Research safaris to Kahuzi-Biega national park|
|Research safaris to Odzala Kokoua national park|
WHERE TO STAY
|L’Orchids Safari Club Kahuzi-Biega|
|Mboko camp Odzala Kokoua|
|Ngaga camp Odzala Kokoua|
|Lango Camp Odzala Kokoua|
WHEN TO GO
|Best time to trek Eastern Lowland Gorillas|
|Best time to trek western Lowland Gorillas|
|5 Days Low land Gorilla Trekking Safari|
|7 Days Lowland Gorilla Tracking safari|
|5 Days western lowland gorilla trekking safari|
|7 Days western lowland gorilla trekking safari|
|14 Days Eastern Lowland Gorillas,western lowland & Mountain Gorilla safari|