Habituated Gorilla Families in Rwanda, Full Updated List
About the Habituated Gorilla Families in Rwanda
Gorilla trekking is with no doubt the most sought adventure activity all around the world and this partly explains why thousands of tourists flock into Rwanda. For lifetime experiences, visitors can only trek mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park in Northwestern Rwanda which makes part of the Great Virunga Massifs. However, it is equally important to be knowledgeable of the habituated gorilla families in Rwanda. For those intending to visit Rwanda for gorilla trekking safaris, the habituated gorilla families are more than 15 but only 10 (ten) have been set for tourism where only 8 (eight) visitors are assigned to track one family each day Below, we discuss the gorilla groups;
1. The Susa gorilla family (41 members);
The Susa gorilla family is the biggest Mountain Gorilla family in Rwanda in Volcanoes National Park. The group originally had a total of 42 members before it split and reduced to a current total of 33 members and 2 silverbacks. This gorilla family has very interesting and amazing twins with a huge size that attracts tourists attention. The Susa family boasts of 3 silverbacks, and several juvenile gorillas, females, and youngsters. It’s also the first group that Dian Fossey first studied during her years in Rwanda. The name Susa originates from River Susa which runs through the area where Susa gorilla group normally call home. This very large family is divided into two; Susa A often found on the lower side of the forest and Susa B or the Karisimbi family found on the upper part of the forest. As a trekker, you are advised to trek the Susa A group where you are assured to see the gorillas 100%.
2. Amahoro gorilla family (18 Members)
This gorilla family’s name “Amahoro” means peace and is a perfect description of the leader of this family. The Amahoro Gorilla Group currently resides on the slopes of Mountain Visoke and has about 18 members with 2 Silverbacks 2 black back, 5 adult females, 2 sub-adult males, 2 juveniles and 5 babies. However, the peace in this gorilla family also comes at a cost. Ubumwe silverback gorilla in this group is most gentle silverback but unfortunately, he lost his family members to Charles in the Umubano gorilla group. Hiking through this group is a bit strenuous but the hike comes with encounters of these impressive wild creatures in their natural habitat. If you have a peaceful character in nature and love peace as well then you might have to book your permits for trekking this gorilla group.
3. The Sabyinyo Gorilla Family (8 members)
The Sabyinyo gorilla family comprises of 8 members led by the most gigantic and powerful silverback; Guhonda and is usually found between Sabyinyo and Gahinga mountains. This group usually roams on the slopes of Mountain Sabinyo and this makes it relatively easy to track. The Sabyinyo gorilla family was named after Mount Sabyinyo, a piece of the great Virunga Volcanoes that translates to “old man’s teeth” in Kinyarwanda, Sabyinyo gorilla family stays in Volcanoes National Park. By far, this is the easiest group to trek.
4. Kwitonda Gorilla Family (18 Members)
The Kwitonda is yet another group of the habituated gorilla families in Rwanda that consists of 18 members and is led by Kwitonda the silverback. This group migrated from DRC and tend to range far, making it a moderately difficult trek. The Kwitonda gorilla family is named after the dominant silverback of this group and means “humble one”.
5. The Agashya Gorilla Family (25 members)
This amazing gorilla family was formerly known as group 13 during habituation when it had only 13 members, however, this family now consists of 25 members. This gorilla family was initially led by a dominant silverback called Nyakarima who was later on overthrown by another dominant leader Agashya who leads till today. The name Agashya means ‘News’ and surprisingly the family was named after him.
6. The Hirwa Gorilla Family (16 members)
The Hirwa gorilla family is a new group among the habituated gorilla families in Rwanda that has 16 members with one Silverback. The group was formed as a result of members that broke away from the Sabyinyo family and the Agasha group joining to make a tally of 16 altogether. The group roams between the mountains of Mount Gahinga and Sabyinyo. This is one of the luckiest groups in the park and slots among the few that managed to get twins.
7. Umubano Gorilla group (11 members)
Umubano is a Kinyarwanda work which means neighborliness. This group comprises of 11 individuals; one silverback, 1 sub-adult male gorilla, 3 adult females, and 6 baby gorillas. Umubano was once within the Amahoro family but broke off after Ubumwe silverback was challenged by Umubano.
8. Karisimbi group (15 members)
Also known as the Susa B group, the Karisimbi gorilla family broke off from the original Susa “A” because of continuous fights. It comprises of 15 members and it is found on the Karisimbi volcano slopes that stands at 4507 meters and features as the highest mountain peak of Rwanda. The Susa “B” is ideal for trekkers who are physically well. They are believed to have found their home on top of the Karisimbi caldera slopes and this means that you can spend an entire day tracking for these unique creatures. They in most cases roam on top making the trek a bit challenging but it is one of the rewarding groups in Volcanoes National Park.
9. Ugenda gorilla family (11 members)
The Ugenda is a Kinyarwanda word that means ‘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 silverbacks and wonders around the Karisimbi area hence very difficult to track since it has no particular home. If you are planning your gorilla trekking safari, then this is a group you must visit in Volcanoes National Park.
10. Bwenge gorilla family (11 members)
This comprises of 11 individuals and 1 silverback. It can be tracked within the Karisoke volcano slopes. It is led by Bwenge silverback and named after his name. Bwenge is a Kinyarwanda word which means ‘Wisdom’ and it’s no wonder that this was the group that featured the Movie ‘Gorillas in the Mist’.
In conclusion, therefore, gorilla trekking is the best and most adventurous activity done in Rwanda and with over 15 gorilla groups, the above listed are the common habituated gorilla families in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National park. Each group offers a rare experience and in order to explore more, it is better to at least to visit two groups to compare the experiences thereafter as each comes with different stories. Over 56 gorilla permits issued per day in Rwanda, the number of permits will, however, vary as some groups cross over into the Congo. But you can always be sure to find gorillas on your gorilla tour in Volcanoes National Park.
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