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Gorilla Families in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park

3 days Bwindi Gorilla Safari in Uganda

Volcanoes national park is the only home to mountain gorillas in Rwanda within the Virunga massif adjacent to Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda and Virunga national park in Congo. A total of 10 habituated gorilla families are open to gorilla safari Rwanda tourists to Volcanoes national park. Eight (8) tourists are allowed to trek a single gorilla family each day, the gorilla families in Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park and these are;

Amahoro Gorilla Family

Amahoro is the most peaceful gorilla family in Rwanda with 18 members led by silverback Ubumwe. The name Amahoro originates from a Kinyarwanda word meaning serenity. The family is indeed known for its peacefulness and friendliness living to the expectations of its name. This peaceful has however led to lose of some members to another group called Umubano. The group established their home on Mt. Bisoke which makes it challenging to trek.

Umubano Gorilla Family

Umubano gorilla family is a split from Amahoro gorilla family. Because of constant battles between Charles and Ubumwe the two head silver backs, this family split. At the time of the split, Charles broke away with 13 members forming the Umubano family with their name meaning living together.

Susa A Gorilla Family

Susa A gorilla family was previously part of the Susa family that had 42 members before the split which was the most popular group. Susa A gorilla family was formed in 2008 after the split and it remained with 33 members including two silverbacks. The gorilla family lives in the lower slopes of Mt. Karisimbi and is popular for its playful twins Byishimo and Impano. This was the group thoroughly studied by Dian Fossey during her time in Rwanda from 1967 to 1985.

Gorilla families in Rwanda's Virunga national park
Mother gorilla with twin babies

Susa B (Karisimbi) gorilla family

This is the other group of the gorillas that split from the Susa family. The group has 16 members including 2 silver backs. The group inhabits the upper slopes of Mt. Karisimbi at an altitude of 4,507m offering a trying moment for those on Rwanda gorilla trekking safari tours to trek them. This group is suitable for tourists who are interested in serious hiking.

Ugenda Gorilla Family

Ugenda is a Kinyarwanda word that means on the move or mobile. Ugenda gorilla family has 11 members with two silverback gorillas. The group attained its named because its random movement behavior which makes it one difficult group to track on a Rwanda gorilla safari.

Kwitonda Gorilla Family

Kwitonda gorilla family migrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo since Virunga national park is within the Virunga massif that is trans boundary. Its named after its dominant silver back called Kwitonda meaning the ‘Humble one’. This group has 23 members and lives in the lower slopes of Mt. Muhabura and its movement is un predictable.

Sabyinyo Gorilla Family

This gorilla family is popular for its giant silverback known as Guhonda who weighs about 220kg. The group has 13 members including one silver back after another was exiled from the group. It’s the nearest and easiest gorilla family to track on a gorilla trekking Rwanda safari. It inhabits the gentle slopes between Mt. Sabyinyo and Mt. Gahinga.

Bwenge Gorilla Family

Bwenge gorilla family has 11 members led by silverback Bwenge. The group was formed in 2007 when silverback Bwenge left his group and was later joined by females from other groups. Bwenge is a Kinyarwanda word which meaning Wisdom and from its name, it’s no wonder that this gorilla group featured in the Movie titled Gorillas in the Mist. The group occupies the slopes of Karisoke volcano between Karisimbi and Bisoke mountains.

Hirwa Gorilla Family.

This gorilla family has 16 members with its name originating from its formation process which was out of luck, therefore meaning the lucky one. This family was formed in 2006 by some members of Sabyinyo group and others from 13 group (Agashya). Hirwa group inhabits the foothills of Mt. Sabyinyo to the side of Mt Gahinga.

Agashya (Group 13) Gorilla Family

Agashya gorilla family was initially led by silverback Nyakarima but was later over thrown by Agashya. Agashya means news and the family was named after silverback Agashya. This group is named after the initial family number that was 13 at the time of habituation. The family group as of now has 27 members.

Titus Gorilla Family

The family is named after the Silver back Titus which was born during the days of Dian Fossey’ research at Karisoke. Titus the young gorilla lost his family to poachers including his father, uncle, brother, mother and sister. Titus was later raised by another family and considered one of the successful gorillas in history. This group is meant for research but open to tourists when other groups are fully booked.

No matter the gorilla family you will trek on a Rwanda safari, the experience will always be memorable.

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