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Gorilla tracking families in Rwanda | Gorilla tracking groups in Volcanoes park.

Gorilla tracking families in Rwanda. Rwanda just like Uganda, mountain gorilla tracking is the country’s most popular tourism activity. Gorilla safaris are done in Volcanoes national park.  Volcanoes national park shares its forest with Mgahinga national park in Uganda and Virunga national park in Congo. Together this massive forest is a home to about 480 gorillas. Rwanda has a little more than DR.Congo when it comes to number of gorillas habituated.

Rwanda has about 10 habituated gorilla tracking families with different number of family members. However, each gorilla group can only be visited by 8 tourists a day on safari.  Each family has a different name with 1 dominant male called a silver back. Although there are cases where a group has more than one alpha male. Rwanda has 80 gorilla trekking permits available daily.

To guide you we have listed below Gorilla tracking families that you can visit while on a gorilla tracking safari or Rwanda safari ;.

  1. Susa Group

    Susa used to be the largest of all, it was named after Susa river.  The river flows from where this group usually camps and it is called the Susa A . Later it split into 2 groups when it became too big.  This was Dian Fossey research group,  and they prefer staying along the slopes of Karisismbi Mountain. It originally had 42 members and would spread all over the place.

    This therefore made  tracking this family really hard  but after it was divided into 2. The  group has about  28 members with 3 Silverbacks. This is the very group with the famous Byishimo & Impano twins and their mother which attract lots of visitors.                                                                                                                         Susa A often stays at the lower side of the forest and if you choose this group for your Rwanda gorilla safari, you have 100% chances of seeing them.  Although the hike will be a bit tough as they live high up on the slopes of mountains.

To trek this group, we highly recommend that you hire porters to carry your supplies or luggage during the trek.

    1. Karisimbi Family
      is also called Susa B. This is the other group that was split from the original Susa after it got too big to control. This group has only 15 members, they often stay along the slopes of Rwanda’s highest peak called Karisimbi just like Susa A, except that these live at a higher altitude compared to group A.   Perfect for experienced hikers.  The trek is very strenuous to get to them.  You need to be physically fit to track this group because they sometimes even further up the mountain and it can take you a whole day  to get to get to them .
    2. Sabyinyo Gorilla Group

      Sharing its name with the  Sabyinyo volcano, this gorilla family has 8 members that wonder between Sabyinyo and Gahinga mountain. This is the easiest family to track since they live closer at the lower parts of the forest. They have 1 dominant male called Guhonda who is also the largest and said to be the most powerful alpha of all in this park. He is physically a giant and has managed to keep his biggest contender called Ryango in isolation.

    3. Amahoro Gorilla Group

      The gorilla group has  17 members and its name means peace.  The name suites them because this group is the most peaceful of all groups with Ubumwe as the alpha of the group. This group lives around Karisoke and Visoke peak.Originally, it had more members but some of them were by Charles and Ubumwe was too peaceful to fight for his members.

    4. Umubano Group

This gorilla tracking group split from Amahoro and formed by Charles who is now the alpha of this group. Umubano means neighborliness and has about 11 members who chose to follow Charles when he left Amahoro group.  Ubumwe and Charles had to go to battle when the later couldn’t take orders from the former anymore and when the later walked away, he took along with him some members and they formed family of their own.

  1. Agasha or  Group 13

    Referred to as group 13 because it originally had only 13 members in the family although they later increased up to around 25 members.It has an alpha called Agashya who assumed the position after overthrowing Nyakarima.

    The 2 engaged in a serious fierce battle and when Agasha won, he walked away and took the whole group with him. The group moved up the volcano, they created that new family and the numbers have been increasing since then.

  2. Kwitonda Family

    Kwitonda family came into existence after they migrated from DRC, it has about 18-member and the group was named after their alpha who is called Kwitonda which means humble one. This family has 2 silverbacks and also 1 blackback. This group tends to be the hardest group to track because most of the times they wonder off into the Virunga section of the park which is too far into the jungle and from the starting point. .

  3. Hirwa Group

    Hirwa means lucky one . The group was formed after some members from Group 13 and some Sabyinyo came together.  They are only 9 in a family.  A new family but it is a very strong group and the alpha does protect its members against all threats.

  4. Bwenge Family

    Bwenge  has 11 members with Bwenge as the silverback and it’s commonly found the Karisoke slopes. Formed in 2007 after Bwenge deserted his former group to form his and he was later followed by some females from different families. Tracking this group is also hectic because you have to hike up the hill which takes about 3 hours as the trails are often very muddy and slippery. Important to note about this group is that it featured in the “Gorillas in the Mist” the movie.

  5. Ugenda Family

    This family is commonly seen around Karisimbi. This group has 11 members including 2 silverbacks and just like the name suggests “being on the move”. The group is often on the move from one location to another thus the reason it is hard to track. To find them, you might have to walk a really long journey if not the whole day searching for them.

Rwanda offers about 80 gorilla permits in total per day and tracking starts at 8 am following a briefing done at the headquarters. Every group of people is given an hour to spend with the gorillas once they meet them in the jungle you can be certain that you find gorillas any time of the year when you decided to visit the Rwanda for gorilla trekking. 

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