Journaling The Journey

Amazing Gorilla Trekking in DRC – 2 days

Gorilla Trekking DRC Kahuzi-Biega National Park

Last updated on November 6th, 2023 at 02:08 am

Gorilla trekking is one of the most exhilarating and fun things that we have ever done!  Who doesn’t want to see these amazing souls living happily in their natural habitat?!  We had already experienced the Mountain Gorilla Trek in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest of Uganda and now wanted to meet the Eastern Lowland Gorilla.

In the dense mountainous forests of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), there lives a gentle giant: the Eastern Lowland Gorilla. These magnificent creatures are sadly critically endangered.  Our goal was to support their conservation and go trekking with them in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park.

In this post we share our itinerary, guide and process of this trip.


Gorilla Trekking DRC
Mash and Rob with our wonderful guide Charles and the ranger in charge of the Kahuzi-Biega accommodations at the park entrance.

Our guide from our trip through Burundi, also took us to the DRC for the gorilla trekking.  Charles Bigirimana of Burundi Discovery Tours (What’s App +257 62 84 74 35) truly showed us the gold standard of guiding. He made sure that we were taken care of at every step of the way. Charles’ passion about the subject matter, his knowledge, enthusiasm, patience and kindness blew us away. We would highly recommend Charles for any trip in East and Central Africa.


The local currency is the Congolese Franc but US Dollars are widely used. US Dollars should be in good condition and issued after 2001 or they will not be accepted or changed at banks.

We did not see a single place where the local currency was listed in the price – it was always listed in USD.


Just like in Burundi we felt safe in the DRC.  Charles, our guide took care of every detail along the way and perhaps that is why we felt so safe.  Now, to be clear we did not venture outside of our hotel in Bukavu after dark.  Just like we would not do in many other large cities around the world

Getting to Kahuzi-Biega National Park

Kahuzi-Biega National Park Gorilla Trekking DRC
Endangered Lowland Gorilla named Bonne Annee (because he was born on January 1, 2003) enjoying some bamboo shoots.

The easiest and safest way to get to the Kahuzi-Biega National Park is from Rwanda.  One can fly into Kigali (the capital of Rwanda) and then take a short flight into the small airport on the Rwanda side called Kamembe (KME).  From here there are 2 options:

  1. Take a 10 minute taxi to the Rwanda border.  Go through the stamp out process and walk across the small bridge to the DRC side, get the DRC visa and walk out where the park staff will pick you up and drive you to either the park or to the nearby city of Bukavu.  The Park can arrange a taxi for $80 USD to take you to the park from the border and back.  And if you want to ride in a bit of luxury, $150 USD for a Jeep Land Cruiser from the border to the park and back.
  2. Have a guide take you through the whole process and pick you up at the airport on the Rwanda side.

We were coming from Burundi.  The road was quite good and the land-border process to stamp out of Burundi was straight forward.  There was a line for the cars, so the driver stayed with the car, while Charles (our guide) took us to get the stamp out.  By the time that we were out, the car was already through.

The Rwanda border was more complicated and Charles helped us with the multi-window process.  This took 30 minutes as we needed to get a transit visa ($40 USD) just for the hour of driving through Rwanda.  After the drive we needed to get the stamp out.  There were lines everywhere and only 2 people working in immigration.  Charles jumped to our rescue and somehow got us in front of the line.  We had to fill in paperwork to get the stamp out.

PRO TIP: The DRC border crossing works every day of the week however only from 06:00 to 15:00, so make sure that you are through the Rwanda stamp out immigration process in time to walk across the bridge for the health check: yellow fever and COVID vaccination.  Then, you will need to present your pre-printed LOI (Letter of Invitation) from the Kahuzi-Biega National Park + pay the $100 USD in cash for the visa.

VISA for the DRC

Gorilla Trekking DRC
Bonne Annee a silverback in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park

If you are legitimately visiting the Kahuzi-Biega National Park the visa process for the DRC becomes very easy.  The person to contact is Kelvin Muzaliwa (Whats App: +243 991 016 267) or [email protected].  Once Kelvin knows that you are coming, he will create the Letter of Invitation (LOI), which you will need to print for the DRC border crossing.

PRO TIP:  Once you do the gorilla trekking in the park, you are then allowed to take the ferry to Goma and other parts of the DRC on the same visa.  You can even fly from Goma to Kinshasa.  Please note that it is very difficult to get a DRC visa without the help of the park.

Itinerary: 2-3 Days

Day 1:  Our suggestion would be to enter the DRC as early as possible in the day and drive directly to the park.  They have wonderful accommodations there.  Day 2:  Do the gorilla trekking starting at 09:00 and then either turn around and leave the DRC or spend another night either in the park or in the border city of Bukavu.  The drive from Bukavu to the park is about 1-1.5 hours.

Better yet, spend a few nights in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park accommodations and add some hikes to your itinerary.


Kahuzi-Biega Accommodations
One of 6 identical bungalows offered as accommodations in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park.

Kahuzi-Biega National Park

As I mentioned earlier, the accommodations at the Kahuzi-Biega National Park are spectacular.  There are 6 Bungalows with hot water, wifi, a private bathroom with a bathtub and shower and a sitting area with a fireplace and TV.  This is a super peaceful place with an amazing vibe and is set in gorgeous manicured woods.  The bungalows are $120 USD per night.

Gorilla Trekking DRC
Inside the spacious and modern bungalow of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park

In addition, there are glamping style tents.  The bathrooms for the 2 tents are just outside and slightly up the hill.  The costs of a tent is $80 USD per night.


In Bukavu, there are a few options for hotels:

  • Elizabeth Hotel: This is a no nonsense basic clean hotel with A/C, surprisingly good wifi and good food (they even made me a vegan wrap).  When we asked for a second towel, they told us to share.  $80 USD double with breakfast (credit cards are accepted – however they double charged us for the room and we are still dealing with the credit card company on that)
  • Coco Lodge: This is a mid range accommodation although the rooms look a lot like the cheaper priced Elizabeth Hotel.  It is clean and has a good restaurant with live music on Friday nights.  $120 USD with breakfast for single and $150 USD with breakfast for double
  • Orchid’s Safari Club Hotel: This is an upscale hotel (for DRC standards) and is located on Lake Kivu.  There is a good restaurant and bar and a peaceful environment.  Rooms range in price: $230 USD single and $270 double

Gorilla Trekking

The main event of all these plans and activities is of course the actual gorilla trekking with the eastern lowland gorillas.  The briefing at the Kahuzi-Biega National Park starts at 09:00 daily. Shortly after the instructions and information is provided we piled into a 4X4 truck to take us to the closest entry point where the gorillas where last seen by the trackers.

In total, there were 5 tourists + our guide and about 4 rangers and the head park ranger.  We entered the park on a single track path on foot.  The rangers were clearing the shrub with machetes to ensure our safe passage.  Within about 30 minutes of hiking the head guide pointed up into the tree.  And we immediately saw the magnificent Bonne Anne family of Eastern Lowland Gorillas.

Within a few minutes the youngsters came down the tree, then a few more gorillas and last but not least the huge silverback gorilla descended.  Our gorilla trekking continued from there.  For about an hour we watched the mom’s carrying their babies on their backs while the youngsters played.   The silverback moved around to find bamboo shoots which he enjoyed right in front of us without a care in the world.

Wrap Up

Lake Kivu Gorilla Trekking DRC
Early morning drive along Lake Kivu from Bukavu to the Kahuzi-Biega National Park

The Kahuzi-Biega National Park is an amazing place.  The lodging in the park also has a very special place in our hearts.  The whole place is run by rangers that truly care about these extraordinary gorillas and of their conservation.  There is an air of community and connection to nature here.

And of course the gorilla trekking was absolutely out of this world.  Being part of the Bonne Anne family for that magical hour is something that we treasure.  We hope to come back with Charles and spend some additional time in the DRC once some of the other parks open up and it is safer to do so.

Have you been on a gorilla trek in the DRC or anywhere else?  We would love to hear about your experience or help you in your planning for this amazing event.  Leave your questions in the comments and we would love to help you plan!

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