Habituated Mountain Gorilla Groups in Rwanda

Habituated Mountain Gorilla Groups, Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Families, Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Rwanda volcanoes national park, gorilla families in volcanoes park. In Rwanda, the Gorilla families are divided into 2; those for study or research purposes which are strictly accessed by scientists plus researchers only. Among these are Beetsme and Pablo’s Shida’s which have the highest number of gorillas. There are also ten habituated gorilla families that are for tourism purposes, so these are available for trekkers to visit. At most 8 people are allowed to visit each of the habituated gorilla groups every day and you may spend at most one magical hour. Among these gorilla groups are these include:

  1. Susa Gorilla Group – Habituated Mountain Gorilla Groups

    Habituated Mountain Gorilla Groups

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    This is the gorilla group that was researched by the American conservationist Dian Fossey. The group named after River Susa which flows in the habitat range of this gorilla group. The family is the most challenging but highly rewarding to trek since it normally stays up in the higher ranges of the mountains however the experienced guides in the park will know in time the movements of the group before the next trackers. Sometimes tourists have been barred from tracking the group because of its distant location. This group is very impressive with a family size of 28 gorilla individuals with three Silverbacks. This was the biggest gorilla group prior to separating into two. The group had 42 individuals and when visited trekkers would watch so many gorillas scattered in the entire area. This group is famous for its infant twins; Byishimo and Impano which are pretty playful. It as well has one of Rwanda’s oldest habituated gorillas like Poppy who was born in 1976. Poppy is thought to be among the gorillas which were in the initial gorilla group that Dian Fossey’s conducted her research.

  2. Karisimbi Family (Susa-B)- Habituated Mountain Gorilla Groups

    This family separated from the initial Susa (Susa-A) family and today it is referred to as Susa-B or the Karisimbi Group. It has 15 individuals and normally found on the slopes of Mt Karisimbi Volcano (4507Meters) the highest peak of Rwanda. Karisimbi Group is better appropriate for serious hikers. It seems that they have formed their home in the higher mountain slopes of Karisimbi caldera. So visiting this group may take a full day hike. The group at times moves to higher altitude making the tracking pretty challenging. But, RDB tourism plus conservation guides will be a aware of the location of the gorilla group the previous day. Tracking the gorilla family at times can be stopped due to its faraway location.

  3. Sabyinyo Gorilla Group- Habituated Mountain Gorilla Groups

    Sabyinyo can easily be reached and it is led by a strong silverback Guhonda. This is the biggest silverback of all the gorilla groups, since it is very massive in physical appearance. Actually Guhonda has maintained his main competitor, Ryango, from his group as a solitary silverback. In comparison to other gorilla families, Sabyinyo has fewer members although it is similarly impressive. This particular group derived its name from Sabyinyo volcano and it actually means an “old man’s teeth”. The Sabyinyo is among the groups found nearest to the border of the park with 8 individuals that include one Silverback which is the biggest in the entire park and the other three Adult females, a youthful female, two Juveniles as well as a Baby gorilla.

  4. Amahoro Gorilla Group-

    Amahoro which means “peaceful group” is the most calm gorilla groups. This group has seventeen individuals with one Silverback, two Black-backs as well as five Adult females plus 2 Sub-adult males, 2 Juveniles and 5 Babies. Ubumwe, the silverback of this group is peaceful, really easy going as well as serene; he has sadly lost some group members to the Umubano group led by Charles.

  5. Umubano Group-

    Which means “neighborliness”, the Umubano family comprises of 11 gorilla members with a Silverback; a Sub-adult male as well as three Adult females and six Babies. Umubano were initially members of Amahoro group however separated following Ubumwe the then dominant silverback being overpowered by Charles who is the current leader of Umubano. As Charles grew into an adult silverback just as Ubumwe, he couldn’t stand taking orders around so he decided to fight and eventually challenged Ubumwe. This fight went on for some weeks and nearly months. Eventually, Charles was able to take a couple of females from Ubumwe hence forming a group; the Umubano. From that time, he commands a lot of respect and appreciated by Ubumwe. On a number of occasions interactions between these two silverbacks have been witnessed, however, no fights have been witnessed since that big fight.

  6. 13 Group (the Agasha Group)-

    Habituated Mountain Gorilla Groups

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    During its first time of habituation, the group had 13 members hence its name. Today the group has nearly 25 members with one Silverback; twelve Adult females; two Sub adult female; three Juvenile as well as seven Babies. Previously this group was led by Nyakarima who was overpowered by Agashya whose name means “the news”. In fact Agashya made headlines by first observing and estimating the strengths of Nyakarima and finally challenged him to a brutal fight taking away his entire group. This greatly shocked Nyakarima and was an extraordinary event in witnessed gorilla history. Then Agashya shifted up the volcano to safe guard his group and ensure that Nyakarima didn’t find them. Since then, Agashya has increased the number of members in his group by snatching some from other groups and incorporating other solitary gorillas, speedily the group expanded from 12 up to 25 individuals. Agashya is also known, at any first sign of danger, to take his entire group to the peak of the volcano. One time, while some tourists had gone to observe the Group 13 this identical scenario occurred. Agashya imagined that there was an opponent silverback which was about to fight him. In reaction, he led his group to the volcano.

  7. Kwitonda Family- Habituated Mountain Gorilla Groups

    This group has 18 members and it is led by Kwitonda the silverback whose name means the “humble one” it also has 2 silverbacks plus a blackback. It moved from the DRC, and normally stays far away which makes it challenging to trek. This along with the Susa B is some of the most challenging groups to find

  8. Hirwa Group; 

    which means “lucky one became renowned on 17th June 2006 after trackers witnessed its creation when some members from 2 separate families the Group 13 and the Sabyinyo group joined to form a smaller group at the time. Fortunately some other gorillas also joined this group and today the Hirwa group has nine individuals: one Silverback; three Adult females; two Sub adult females as well as 3 Babies. Although it is the newest gorilla group and hence the easiest to trek. Hirwa shows strength and well safeguards its members

  9. Bwenge Family- Habituated Mountain Gorilla Groups

    This family has 11 members with a Silverback. It is majorly seen in the Slopes of Karisoke Volcano. Bwenge is the silverback that leads the group which was established in 2007 after he left his birth group and was joined by other females coming from other gorilla groups. The group has faced some challenging times; which included the death of six infants. Today this group is becoming strong with two successful births in the past couple years as well as a strong silverback leader. This trek to visit the group is challenging and includes an ascent of nearly 3 hours. The trails at times are muddy and pretty steep. It seems this is the group which featured in the legendary movie ‘Gorillas in the Mist’.

  10. Ugenda Family-  Habituated Mountain Gorilla Groups

    This Group lives in Rwanda’s Karisimbi area. It consists of 11 gorillas including 2 silverbacks. The name the group acquired means “being on the move” since the family was constantly moving from one place to another. Because it is constant moving, tracking it is normally challenging and involves prolonged movement in search for them.

Do I have to be fit to take part in tracking the gorillas?

Habituated Mountain Gorilla Groups

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Mountain Gorillas stay up in the montane forest therefore trekking them is done on the higher altitude that offers a diversified vegetation and landscape. You’ll need a good fitness level as well as the will to climb the slippery slopes through the dense undergrowth.

Is there guarantee that I will always see the gorilla?

It is not 100% guaranteed seeing mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park but also important to note is that, we have never had cases where visitors on Rwanda gorilla trekking Safaris to Volcanoes National Park fail to see the Mountain gorillas during their trek. To make sure that you see them, trackers leave at day break to establish their location, movement and then they radio the gorilla’s GPS co-ordinates to the park head offices such that by the time you set off the guide has an idea of where the gorillas are. These trackers follow the gorillas even as they move.

What is the minimum and maximum age for trekking gorillas?

The minimum age for gorilla trekking is 16 years and this is the standard limit. It applies in Uganda as well as Rwanda and it is strongly enforced in all the National Parks. However there isn’t a maximum age for trekking but what matters are you able to physically fit to walk or hike the hills.