Gorilla families to trek in Rwanda
Gorilla families In Rwanda

Gorilla families to trek in Rwanda – Gorilla Trekking Rwanda – Volcanoes National Park – Gorilla habituation in Rwanda 

Gorilla families to trek in Rwanda. Rwanda is currently one of the best destinations for gorilla trekking in Africa. It’s located in the famous Virunga massif besides two other popular gorilla destinations Uganda and the democratic republic of Congo. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is done at the famous Volcanoes national park. Currently, the park has 10 habituated gorilla families for visitors to see and one set aside for research from which the Kwita Izina baby gorilla naming ceremony is selected.

Surprisingly, each gorilla family has distinct and unique characteristics quite different from others. A single gorilla permit in Rwanda costs 1500 paid by all travelers including Rwanda nationals.

Gorilla families In Rwanda

Below are the different gorilla families present in Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park.

Sabyinyo group

The nearest gorilla family and easiest to track inhabits the gentle slopes between Mt. Sabyinyo and Mt. Gahinga. The group is popular for its giant silverback known as Guhonda which has kept its main challenger, Ryango out of the family to remain as a lonely silverback. The group is composed of 13 members including one silver back after another was exiled from the group. The commander of the group; Guhonda is the largest silver back in the park weighing about 220kg. The group was named after the Sabinyo volcano which means ‘old man’s teeth’.

Agashya group

This group is named after the initial family individual who was 13 at the time of habituation. The group was initially led by a silverback called Nyakarima but was later overthrown by Agashya who is now the leader and the family was named after him. Today the family has grown to 27 members including one silverback (Agashya). The group occupies the same territory as the Sabyinyo group but sometimes Agashya takes the family deeper into the mountain when it senses danger.

Gorilla families In Rwanda

Titus Family

The Titus group is the original family named after the silverback Titus which was born during the days of Dian Fossey’s research at Karisoke it was an infant member of the Susa group that Dian Fossey was studying. Titus the young gorilla lost his family to poachers including his father, uncle, and brother and his mother and sister joined other families leaving Titus to be raised by an unrelated male gorilla. According to Dian Fossey Titus the infant seemed “underdeveloped” and had difficulty breathing, but Titus somehow overcame these difficulties.

Susa group (Susa A)

previously with 42 members before the split, it is the most popular family Well known for being the group studied by Diana Fossey during her time in Rwanda from 1967 to 1985. In 2008 the group of 42 individuals splits into 2 as it had become so large. The breakaway group was later known as Susa B or Karisimbi group. Susa A group is well known for its playful twins of Byishimo & Impano and was named after the Susa River that drains through their home range. The group is composed of 33 members including 2 silverbacks and inhabits the forests on the lower slopes of Mt. Karisimbi.

Gorilla families to trek in Rwanda

Karisimbi group (Susa B)

This is sometimes referred to as Susa B and is the group that split from the original Susa in 2008. It is made up of 16 members including 2 silver backs. The group is the hardest to track as it inhabits the upper slopes of Mt. Karisimbi at an altitude of 4507m. The group has established their home high on the upper slopes and is suitable for trackers interested in serious hiking. Tracking this group is sometimes difficult as they go further high though RDB rangers will first locate the group a day before.

Amahoro group

Amahoro is a Kinyarwanda word to mean serenity, as the name goes, the family is known for its peacefulness and congeniality which on the other hand has caused its silver back Ubumwe to lose some members into another group called Umubano. The group has lived to the expectations of her name and is regarded as the most peaceful group. It is composed of 18 members including 2 silver backs and is a bit strenuous to track as one has to endure a hike up Mt. Bisoke slopes where the group established their home.

Umubano group

This family broke away from Ubumwe silverback as a result of constant battles between Charles and Ubumwe the two head silverbacks; Charles consistently challenged the supremacy of the leader Ubumwe. Charles eventually succeeded in breaking away with some members hence forming the Umubano group. The group is composed of 13 members including 2 silver backs and its name means ‘living together’.

Gorilla families to trek in Rwanda

Kwitonda group

This is a migrant group from the Democratic Republic of Congo which was named after its dominant silverback called Kwitonda meaning the ‘Humble one’. Because of its migration background, the group wonders in the lower slopes of Mt. Muhabura, and like the Karisimbi group, it is challenging to track as it sometimes moves to the upper slopes. The group is composed of 23 members including 4 silver backs.

Bwenge group

This group was formed as early as 2007 by Bwenge, and named after him, the group’s dominant silverback, after he had left his Natal group and was joined by females from other groups. The group occupies slopes of Karisoke volcano between Karisimbi and Bisoke mountains and had witnessed dark times when its 6 infants died. The group has however recovered and now has 11 members including one silver back. Bwenge is a Kinyarwanda word that means ‘Wisdom’ and it’s no wonder that this was the group featured in the Movie ‘Gorillas in the Mist’.

Hirwa group

This family was formed in 2006 by some members of the Sabyinyo group and others from Agashya. More gorillas joined in and now the group is composed of 16 members including one silver back. The group derived its name from its formation process which was out of luck. Hirwa means ‘the Lucky one’ and as luck has it, the group got twins in 2011. Hirwa group inhabits the foothills of Mt. Sabyinyo to the side of Mt Gahinga.

Ugenda group

This is a Kinyarwanda word ‘Ugenda’ to mean ‘on the move’ or ‘mobile’. The group was named after its unique behavior of roaming from place to place. It consists of 11 members including 2 silver backs and wonders around the Karisimbi area hence very difficult to track since it has no particular home.

In conclusion, with the description given, you should have a good picture of the characteristics and nature of each gorilla group and be in a position to choose which gorilla family to track on your gorilla safari to Rwanda.

Contact us with any inquiries about trekking gorilla families in Rwanda.

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