A guide to planning your trip to Kahuzi Biega National Park, the Only Natural Habitat where you can see the Eastern lowland gorillas.
Sturdy boots or walking shoes (Wellington Boots for example, purchase possible in Bukavu)
Pants and long-sleeved shirt
Raincoat and hat/cap
Camera: as the use of flash is strictly prohibited, adjust your camera before approaching the group
At least 1 liter of water + a small snack
Norms for Visiting Gorillas
Before your visit to the gorillas:
1. Reserve your visit permit by sending an email to the following addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, or click on the link: www.kahuzibiega.org.
2. A maximum of 8 people per day can visit a family of habituated gorillas. This does not affect the wild life of the gorillas and reduces the contamination of diseases.
3. Only children over 15 can visit the gorillas.
4. It is recommended to wash your hands before entering the forest to visit the gorillas.
On the way to the gorillas:
1. Please always speak quietly in the forest. This will give you the opportunity to observe other treasures of nature such as birds, small primates, etc.
2. Take care of your personal items, DON’T THROW rubbish in the forest.
3. As you approach the gorillas, the guides will brief you to be prepared.
When you are with the gorillas:
1. Keep a distance of 7-10 meters from the gorillas. The further away you are, the more relaxed the gorillas will be.
2. Please always stay in a group during the tour.
3. Speak in a low voice but do not hesitate to ask questions to the guides.
4. It is forbidden to smoke, eat or drink when you are near the gorillas. Above all, do not feed gorillas or any other animals you may encounter. This is to limit the risk of disease transmission to the gorillas.
5. Sometimes gorillas charge. Please follow the guide’s instructions. Above all, do not run away, this will increase the risk that a gorilla will chase you.
6. When taking photos, move slowly, quietly, and be careful where you step. The use of flash is strictly prohibited.
7. Don’t touch the gorillas, they are wild animals.
8. The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas are agitated or nervous, the visit may be cut short.
9. After the visit, remain silent or speak in a low voice until you are at least 200 meters from the gorillas.
General sanitary standards:
Remember that gorillas are genetically very close to humans, and are therefore very susceptible to human diseases. Grauer’s gorillas are critically endangered, and the transmission of diseases to the animals you are about to observe could be fatal to the survival of the species. The following rules help to minimize the risk that your visit will pose to them:
1. Respect the imposed limits of 8 visitors per group of gorillas per day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group of gorillas.
2. 15 minutes before arriving at the location of the gorillas, the guides will give you a mask to wear. This reduces the risk of disease transmission.
3. If you are unwell or feel ill, please inform the park tourist staff in advance to find a suitable solution together, which could be rescheduling your visit or refunding you.
4. Always respect the distance of 7 to 10 meters between the gorillas and you. This is to protect them from human disease.
5. DO NOT leave any waste (e.g. food wrappers) in the playpen which could carry disease or other contaminants.
6. If you need to go to the bathroom during the tour, please ask the guide to dig a hole in the ground with a machete. The hole should be 30 cm deep, which you will fill with soil when you are finished.
Essential items to bring for your visit to the gorillas:
1. Bring something to eat (sandwich or other) and enough water to drink.
2. Wear comfortable walking shoes suitable for steep and muddy slopes. Rubber boots can also be an asset.
3. Wear comfortable and loose hiking clothes for walking in the forest. Preferably wear long pants and high socks to avoid itching from insect or plant bites.
4. Have a waterproof jacket, hat/cap or hood in case of rain, sunscreen, insect repellent.
5. Bring a camera or camcorder to capture your visit. The use of flash is prohibited.