Rwanda Gorilla Families / Groups -Susa, Amahoro, Umubano, kwitonda, Group 13, Hirwa, Sabyinyo

Gorilla Tracking Safaris in Rwanda takes place in Volcanoes National Park.  Gorilla families or groups are divided into two.  The study groups/ families which are accessible to scientists and the tourist groups/families which are open for tourist tracking.  The Study groups have the largest number of individuals.   Study groups include Beetsme, Pablo’s Shida’s and Bwenge.  Besides these, there are seven(7) tourist groups-Susa, Sabyinyo, Amahoro, Kwitonda, Group 13(Agashya), Umubano and Hirwa.  Sometimes, these are joined by a migrant  group from Uganda.  Most of the potential gorilla trackers have diverse questions ranging from the best time to track, the existing gorilla families, accommodation facilities, when to buy permits, tracking rules and regulations and what to bring.  We will answer most of these questions and many more on request.

There are seven gorilla families open for tourists .  Only 8 tourists allowed per group per day.

  • Susa Group/ Family—the largest group with 41 gorillas. The group is very impressive with three silver-backs and several-black backs, females and several youngsters.  Part of the fame of this group are playful 5 year old twins named Byishimo and Impano.  The group roams the slopes of Karisimbi Volcano(4507M).  Though the group is a bit difficult to track sometimes it is very near.  Always find out their location from guides a day earlier.
  • Sabyinyo Group/ Family—One o the easily accessible groups.  The group has 8 members led by the biggest silverback known in the entire jungle called Guhonda.
  • Amahoro Group/ Family—Amahoro meaning peaceful has 17 members led by the peaceful Ubumwe. Amahoro is a more strenuous group to access compared to Group 13 or Sabyinyo.
  • Group 13/ Family(Also Called Agashya)—when first habituated this group had only 13 members hence its name. Now the group has approximately 25 members.
  • Kwitonda Group/ Family—this migrant group from DR Congo has  18-members led by Kwitonda which means “humble one” .  It has two silverbacks and one blackback.  Though the group tends to wander far, it is now permanently in the Rwanda Section of Virungas.  Together with Susa this is one of the difficult groups to track.
  • Umubano Group/ Family—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 silverback he must steal some females from the existing group in order to form his own family; thus Umubano was formed.
  • Hirwa Group/ Family—Hirwa is the most diverse group comprising  from differently families mainly group 13 and Sabyinyo.

Booking Gorilla Tracking Permits When to Book or Buy

Gorilla tracking permits must be booked in advance.  How far in advance depends on your desired time of tracking.  Note that high season means anytime from 1st June to 30th September.  During this time it is extremely difficult to get permits.  During these months some dates are fully booked 6 months in advance and to be on the safe side book even a year or 9 months in advance.

Rules and Regulations of Gorilla Tracking

Gorilla tracking rules and regulations focus on three main areas-conservations of environment, health of gorillas and safety of the trackers.  Littering, coughing, shouting, pointing at gorillas are prohibited.  Gorillas have freedom of way and should not be obstructed in any way.  Read more on gorilla tracking rules and regulations or dos and dont’s .

When gorilla tracking accommodation is available is either basic, mid range or luxury.  Luxury accommodation is available Sabiyinyo Silver Back Lodge (Also called Sabyinyo Community Lodge), Virunga Luxury Lodge (Also called (Virunga Volcanoes Lodge) and the private Jack Hana’s House.  Mid range properties include Gorilla Nest Lodge and Mountain Gorilla View Lodge.  Budget accommodation is provided by Kinigi Guest House and properties in Ruhengeri (Musanze) town.

For gorilla tracking you need 4×4 cars.  See Car Hire Kigali for rates.

Besides gorilla tracking in Rwanda one can also track chimpanzees at Nyungwe Forest National Park and overnight at Nyungwe forest Lodge

2 Comments »

  1. 1

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