Rwanda Gorilla Families: Gorilla Groups at Volcanoes National Park
Rwanda Gorilla Families total to 10 Mountain Gorilla groups set for trekking by visitors to Volcanoes National Park. A total of 8 tourists are allowed to trek a group per day, meaning if all gorilla permits are booked, Rwanda would 80 gorilla visitors every day. The gorilla groups are located at the different sections of the park, that is also a home to golden monkeys and other primate species. Out of the 10 gorilla families, one group is set aside for research from which the Kwita Izina baby gorilla naming ceremony are selected. Every gorilla cluster has unique characteristics somehow different from another, a trend that offers visitors varying experiences during trekking. A gorilla permit in Rwanda costs USD 1500 paid by all travelers including Rwanda nationals.
- Susa Group/Susa A
This is the biggest group with 41 gorillas. This family is the hardest to trek as it tends to range high into the mountains but RDB Tourism & Conservation trackers will know well in advance where the group is located. The group is also famous for having rare 5 year old twins named Byishimo and Impano.
- Karisimbi Group/Susa B
This is gorilla family broke away from the Original Susa (Susa-A) family and now it’s called Karisimbi Group or Susa-B. It has 15 gorilla individuals and lives on the slopes of Karisimbi Volcano (4507 M), the topmost peak of Rwanda. The Karisimbi Group is well-matched for more serious trekkers who want to see gorillas high up on the slopes of the Karisimbi caldera. Consequently, a visit to this group may well end up as a full-days hike. The group sometimes transfers to a higher height above sea level and therefore makes tracking complex. Though, RDB tourism and conservation guides are on familiar terms with where to find the group a day before. Tracking this gorilla family unit may not be common due to the distance.
- Sabyinyo Group
Sabyinyo is an effortlessly reachable group led by the authoritative silverback Guhonda. There are fewer members within this family than in the other groups however they are evenly inspiring as a unit.
- Amahoro Group
Led by the calm and easy going Ubumwe, Amahoro is made up of 17 members and means “peaceful”. To get in touch with Amahoro, one must endure a comparatively steep climb however the hike is well worth it once one gets in contact with this peaceful group.
- Agashya Gorilla Group, formerly Group 13
When first habituated this group had only 13 members hence its name. Now the group has approximately 27 members, a very positive sign for conservation and the efforts put forward by RDB Tourism & Conservation to protect the gorillas’ habitat. The family is now called Agashya group. The group is led by a silverback called Agashya who had to depose Nyakarima from leadership before taking over the leadership. The group numbers have risen from 13 to 27 members in a period of 8 years.
- Kwitonda Group
This 18-member group is led by Kwitonda which means “humble one” and has two silver-backs and one black-buck. Having migrated from DRC, this group tends to move to further areas making it a moderately difficult trek.
- Umubano Group
A family of 11, Umubano were originally Amahoro members but broke off after the dominant silverback was challenged by Charles, now the leader of Umubano. When a young silverback challenges the dominant male, he must steal some females from the existing group in order to form his own family; thus Umubano was formed.
- Hirwa Group
This group emerged recently and was formed from different existing families, namely from Group 13 and Sabyinyo. Eventually more gorillas joined. Come witness this family continue to grow
- Bwenge Group
This is a family of 11 individuals with Silverback. It is habitually found on the Slopes of the Karisoke Volcano. This family is led by a silverback named Bwenge and was formed in 2007 when he left his biological group and was slowly but surely joined by females from other groups. This group has had some tough times due to some deaths of 6 infants. But it’s now re-growing with some 2 successful births in the recent years. The trek to see the group is tough and one has to hike up the hill for about 3 hours at an altitude of 600 metres. The trails are sometimes mud-spattered and very sharp. In fact it was also the group that was featured in the “Gorillas in the Mist” popular movie.
- Ugenda Group
This Group is found in Karisimbi area of Rwanda. The Family Size consists of 11 gorillas with 2 silverbacks. Ugenda means “being on the move” and was named because it was constantly moving from one area to another. Because it’s not in single place, trekking it may be some how complicated and involves also moving from one place to another to locate the gorilla members.
Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
In case you intend to visit gorillas in Rwanda, you need to book and secure a gorilla permit at USD 1500 for the amazing adventure. Gorilla permit booking may be done directly with Rwanda Development Board or through a tour operator. Booking a Rwanda Gorilla permit is recommended at least 6 months before the visit due to a big demand for Rwanda gorilla tours. Once you make an early securing of a permit, you will be sure of tracking any of the Rwanda gorilla families.
Guidelines for Trekking Gorillas in Rwanda
In the morning of the gorilla tracking day, visitors are introduced to the gorilla trekking rules and regulations. These guidelines are purposely in place for the safety of gorillas in the forest and at the same time the tourists who come close to them. These dos and don’ts of trekking gorillas in Volcanoes National Park include:
Packing list for Trekking Gorillas in Rwanda
When going on a trip to visit any of the gorilla families in Rwanda, you ought to pack the vital essential items for safer and sound enjoyment. These must-have essentials include:-
- You should not use a flashlight camera
- Maintain a distance of 7 meters away from the endangered primates
- Don’t trek while sick
- Avoid direct eye contact with gorillas
- Avoid littering in the pack
- Speak in low voices if you have to
- Do not run away in case a gorilla charges
- Keep within your group and you should not move alone in the forest
- Follow obediently all instructions by the guide or park rangers
What to carry on a Gorilla Trekking adventure:-
- Hiking boots
- Gardening gloves
- Long-sleeved shirts and blouses
- Long pants
- Rain jacket
- Bottled drinking water plus energy giving snacks
Note that using the services of a porter is very helpful for trekking mountain gorillas in Rwanda. These porters from the local communities help in carrying luggage as well as supporting visitors while while hiking through slippery terrains. Getting their services at a fee is one way of supporting local populations around the park in sustaining their lives, a thing with a gorilla conservation support.