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Lowland gorillas in Bukavu Congo. There is the option to see the lowland gorillas near Bukavu in Congo. Security is OK although there can be trouble at times so you need to check before crossing from Rwanda. The lowland gorillas are slighlty smaller (although they look just as big when you are sitting a few metres away) and have shorter hair. The gorillas are well habituated and you can get some excellent photos.

To get to the Kahuzi Beizi National Park you can get a small motorbike (boda boda) from Bukavu town for a cost of around $4 US dollars and it takes about 30 to 45 minutes to get there from town depending on whether it has rained as the road gets very slippery. It is only a few kilometres from town to the park.

The cost at present is $300 US although there is talk of increasing the price.

The photos on the left were taken by Steve Keenan from Dublin, Ireland who visited the gorillas in Bakuvu April 2008 and had an excellent time.

Bakuva town is situated on the southern end of Lake Kivu on the DRC congo side. Cyangugu is the town on the Rwanda side of the border and it is easy to get to via Kigali, Butare where there is a great museum on Rwandan artifacts, past Nwenge Forest and down the escarpment to Cyangugu.

After seeing the gorillas Steve caught the boat from Bukavu up to Goma where he crossed into Rwanda and back to Kampala.

Below is Steve on the boat to Goma

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Kahuzi-Biega National Park Headquarters Bukuvu

In addition to trekking the lowland gorillas the park HQ has a room containing bones of elephants, gorillas and other wildlife slaughtered by the Interhamwe during their occupation of the park 1997-98.

It is estimated that there are only about 30 elephants left in the area around park HQ whereas before the occupation there were many hundreds. It is unknown how many lowland gorillas the Interhamwe killed during their stay.

 

Left is Mr. Philippe Gombaniro Tembeya who is the ICCN Director in Bukuvu. (Chef de Service du Tourisme du Parc National de Kahuzi-Biega)

There is hope that with security now settling more visitors will visit the park.

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Backpackers Hostel, Nateete Road Lungujja, Kampala

Email backpackers@infocom.co.ug Telephone +256(0)772430587 or +256(0)41274767

For information about tours either email or phone Hasifa on +256(0)774114499

 Copyright Backpackers Hostel & Campsite (U) Ltd 2008

An oasis just 2 km from the city centre

Gorillas In Uganda, Rwanda and Congo

There are three places in Uganda where you may trek mountain gorillas, Bwindi National Park, north west of Kabale town and Mgahinga National Park near Kisoro in the far south west of Uganda. Both areas are considered safe to travel and both offer different experiences. Bwindi has magnificent forests and incredible bird life, both habituated groups in Bwindi number between 16 to 22 gorillas, while Mgahinga has beautiful forests with the backdrop of the Virunga volcanoes, creating the emotions of the "Gorillas in the Mist". The group in Mgahinga numbers nine however the vegetation is in general less dense than Bwindi, need say less actual food (bamboo shoots and plants) than Bwindi and hence the smaller group.. It is true that the Mgahinga gorillas sometimes cross the border into DRC (Congo) however this is seldom and usually only for a few days mainly during the last few weeks of the dry season during September and March. Below is a short write up on approximate costs and how to get there so as to enable you to make a choice on which group you may wish to see. Some people actually visit groups in both Bwindi and Mgahinga. The other place you can see gorillas in Uganda is Nkuringo however one company holds all or most of the permits and it is necessary to book through them.

Bwindi National Park has enormous biodiversity with over 190 species of birds and several species of monkeys. The forests are spectular and earn the name Impenetrable Forest. This does not mean that the forest is so thick that you can not walk or get an excellent view of the gorillas but relates to the lushness of vegetation and the volume of food available to support the enormous biodiversity including the mountain gorillas. There are two habituated groups who are at times very close to the park headquaters, however at times they may be and hour or two walking to find them and may take three to five hours walk however this gives an excellent chance see the may birds, other monkeys and other animals as you search for the gorillas. It does get wet and slippery so we recommend that your wear good hiking boots and carry a raincoat.

Permits for Bwindi National Park must be purchased in Kampala from Uganda Wildlife Authority headquaters. Permits cost $500 each payable in either US dollars or local currency. If you are doing a tour with us (Backpackers Hostel or Travel Uganda Ltd) we will arrange a permit or permits for you.

You may arrange for a private safari either at Backpackers Hostel or with one of the many safari companies around Kampala or choose to travel on public transport as follows;

To get to Bwindi you may catch a bus directly to a village called Butogota about 17km from the National Park. The bus leaves the Kampala bus park at about 6.30 every morning and as there is only one bus to Butogota be sure to be early. Sometimes to bus may leave a little later as it only leaves when every seat is occupied but do not risk missing it. Cost 25,000/- Ush. You can then get a special hire or pick up to take you up to the park for about 45,000/-. The best place to stay at Bwindi is the community campsite right near the park gate where you may camp for10,000/- or stay in a banda for either 20,000/- Ush. They also have drinks and meals. Another good campsite is opposite on the top side of the road and is simular in pricing..

Check in at the park office for gorilla trekking is 7 am the morning of trekking.

If you wish to travel directly back to Kampala after trekking you will have to sleep in Butogota as the bus for Kampala leaves about 5.30am. If you wish to travel to Kabale of Lake Bunyonyi you may opt to stay at Bwindi another night, travel into Butogota early morning a catch a matutu or pickup down to Kabale.

 

Backpackers arrange and run tours to Bwindi and other parks in Uganda

 

Mgahinga National Park

In the shadows of the Virunga volcanoes, Mgahinga National Park is breathtaking inspiring the emotions of Dian Flosseys adventures. There are several activities you may do in and around the National Park, Climb any or all of the peaks in the Ugandan side, cost $30 each peak and takes most of the morning. Definitely for the fit as it is a constant climb. Community walks through the villages and farms cost -

The Mgahinga gorillas sometimes cross the border into DRC (Congo) however this is seldom and usually only for a few days mainly during the last few weeks of the dry seasons, September and Marc. Cost is $500 for your permit plus transport and accomodation.

DRC Congo - at present (May 2008) the security situation in North Kivu inside Congo from Kisoro is uncertain and considered as high risk so it is not recommended at present to see the gorillas in Jumba Congo although some local touts may try to convince you that it is safe.

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