Monday, 4 January 2016

Lowland Gorillas - Kahuzi Biega National Park in Bukavu, DR Congo, 12-14 September 2015

12 September 2015 – Goma to Bukavu, DR Congo
Having seen the Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park I now wanted to see the Lowland Gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park so a group of us from work decided to take a long weekend and go to Bukavu. We left early in the morning and caught the Ihusi Express fast ferry. This meant a scenic 3 hour boat ride heading south down Lake Kivu, and crossing into Rwandan Territory for part of the journey. We stopped on one of the islands to pick some people up.
Leaving Goma Port.
African Cattle
Local Ferry
Typical Village with a mixture of square and round buildings
Herders often look after just one cow
Smaller style dugout canoe
Lake Kivu with DR Congo Flag
In Bukavu our staff member based there picked us up from the ferry terminal and we drove through Bukavu to our accomodation.

Independence Roundabout

Independence Statue
Bukavu roadshide sites
Impressive strength
The height of Bukavu fashion
Bukavu Sights
Fruit and Vegetable Sellers

We were staying at Coco Lodge. I had stayed there on a previous work visit to Bukavu. It is a lovely clean lodge with fantastic African artwork and sculptures as well as the attraction of a pizza oven. We relaxed for the rest of the afternoon and then made the most of the pizza oven for dinner. This was obviously the place to be in Bukavu as it was packed. After a great meal and conversation it was off to bed.

13 September 2015 –Bukavu, DR Congo
It was an early start the next day and Coco lodge had arranged a driver to take us to the Kahu Biega National Park . We drove alongside the lake for a while then headed inland up into the hills which were full of tea plantations. 

At the Park HQ we signed in, paid our USD 200 fees and waited around for an hour. Then we all crammed into some ancient Landcruisers for the journey to the start of the trek. There was quite a large group of us, all from either United Nations or Non Government Organisations (Charities). 

After a 20 minute drive we arrived and were given a briefing about the walk and safety. The guide recommended everyone tuck in their trousers to their socks to stop the ants getting in making everyone look a little silly. We then walked 15 minutes to the edge of the jungle where we met our guides, one of them who was a Pygmy. 

Walking to the Jungle
Now it was a 45 minute walk through the jungle of a rough trail that went very slowly due to people not being used to walking on rough ground. The guide kept taking off and a couple of us would be with him then turn around and no one was in sight so we moved the slower people in front to keep the pace. 

The guide in pink Gumboots is a Pigmy
One of guides pushing though the jungle
Type of Impatient flower
At the park boundary
Two of my work colleagues, Eun Jin (South Korea) and Fran (Ireland)
Into primary jungle now
Gorilla nests from the previous night.
After crossing a log bridge we were told to put our face masks on (to stop us giving our germs to the Gorillas) and we approached the group. The jungle was thick and we were struggling to see anything and then as the Gorilla Troop moved then moved into a clearing and we were able to see them clearly. We stayed in that place for 45 minutes watching the Gorillas, eat, drink and play. 

Watching. Note the facemasks for germ protection for the gorillas
Then the Gorillas moved off and we couldn’t see them so we headed back across the bridge and I thought we were done but we approached them from another angle and got some closeup views of the baby and some juveniles. A couple walked really close to us as they kept moving through the jungle. 

Crossing the log bridge

We then walked back out, loaded onto our Landcruisers and drove back to park HQ, buzzing at the experience. We met up with our driver and headed back to CoCo Lodge where we relaxed for the rest 
of the day.

The walk back out

In the land cruiser
Tea Plantation
Tea Plantation

Local Petrol Station
Early the next morning we caught the ferry back to Goma.

The ferry
Local Fishing boats. They work together to spread the net between the boats
Dugout canoe for transport
Boats working together. You can see the nets between the boats
Closeup of the boats

Bukavu Port

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