Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Families

Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Families. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is located in South-western Uganda, covering parts of Rukungiri, Kisoro, and Kabale Districts. It is situated in mountainous countryside, which, together with some remnant lowland forest outside the boundary, constitutes an important water catchments area for many rivers, supplying the agricultural land of the surrounding region. This is the richest forest in Uganda, in terms of the number of plant species, as the area is one of the few large expanses of forest in East Africa where lowland and montane communities merge.

The valley bottoms contain a dense ground cover of herbs, vines, and shrubs with only a few trees hence its name, the impenetrable forest. This is one of the richest faunal communities in East Africa. There exists about one-half of the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas. There are also several endangered species of birds with limited ranges.  Gorilla tracking in Uganda began on 1st April 1993 in the Buhoma sector northern side of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. It is advisable to make reservations at least 3-6 months before your intended date of visit.

Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Families. There are 4 locations for tracking gorillas in Bwindi these are Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. The 4 locations have a total of about 18 families as of December 2018. Tracking permits need to be bought prior to tracking by booking directly with the reservations office at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Headquarters or through a reputable tour agent. Permits can be paid for up to two years in advance.

Buhoma sector

Located in the northern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Buhoma sector was the first sector to be habituated in 1993 just after the park was declared a UNESCO Heritage. Buhoma is the most famous and most visited part of the park, with the oldest Gorilla family Mubare and three other families of Habinyanja, Rushegura and Katwe Gorilla families.

About the families in the Buhoma sector

Mubare Gorilla Family

This is the oldest gorilla group in Bwindi and was habituated in 1993 when tourism had just been introduced to Bwindi. The name Mubare was derived from the famous Mubare Hills where the team of trackers first sited the group. After the habituation, the group was made up of 12 members, headed by Ruhondeza and over the years with raids and misfortune, the group was reduced to only 5 members. After the death of Ruhondeza who died at over 50 years and with now new leadership from another silverback Kanyonyi, the group has managed to regrow and currently has 9 members.

Habinyanja Gorilla Family

The group was habituated in 1997 and started tracking in 1999. The group is also found in Buhoma sector. The name habinyanja was derived from a Rukiga word “Nyanja” which means a water place. This was because the group as first sighted nearby a swamp pond in Bwindi by then the head of the group was Mugurusi and after his head was succeeded by two brothers Mwirima and Rwansigazi. Rwansigazi loved to travel while Mwirima loved to stay in one place. Later Rwasigazi formed the group Rushegura. The head of this family is the Silverback Makara and is comprised of now 17 members with 9 Adults, 5 infants and 3 juveniles. This group is one of the easiest to track and to reach it is a 45 minutes’ drive from the starting point, and you head out to the trail at Nyamishaba village.

Rushegura Gorilla Family.

This group split away from Habinyanja gorilla family and was opened up for tracking in 2002. This breakaway was led by Mwirima who was a strong silverback and wanted to form his group after many years of power struggle with his brother Rwansigazi, by the time Mwirima left he took with him, 7 members. Later he died, and now the group is under the leadership of a black back. The group has managed to increase its member to 19 members from the original 8 members. This group keeps moving between Uganda and DR Congo as it lives on the border edge and keeps crossing over many times. This is another easy group to track with tourists starting there trek from the park headquarters and walk just 15 munites to get to the trail in Mukono.

Katwe Gorilla Group.

This is the newest group in Buhoma sector, and this group took up to 3 years to be fully habituated and ready for visitor tracking. The group has one dominate silverback, four females and two babies. It’s not exactly know how many members this group has as other members keep moving in and out of the group. This group was founded in 2018, and this was done in a bid to increase the number of Gorilla permits available per day hence increase the revenue of the country as well.

Ruhija sector

Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Families. Located in the Eastern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the sector is home of Gorilla families Bitukura and Oruzogo family and all are available for tracking.the sector has another group called Kyaguriro family for research use. The region stands at an elevation of over 2350 meters above sea level making it the coldest area in Bwindi. The region offers excellent hiking opportunities and has charming trails for those interested in nature walks like the Rwamunyonyi peak. Other primates in Ruhija include monkeys, and mammals include elephants and antelopes.

About Gorilla Families in Ruhija sector

Bitukura Gorilla Family.

The family is located in Ruhija which is on the Eastern side of Bwindi, and the group was named after a river in the park because the group was first sighted near the river hence the name. Habituation of the group started in 2007, and the group was later opened up for tracking in October 2008. The rangers had been encountering the group previously during there habituation of the Kyaguriro group, and they were never hostile, and this made it easy for them to habituate the gorillas. They became accustomed to human company faster than other gorilla groups. This group is very peaceful and with little politics as compared to other gorilla families that are characterized with such. The group was made up of 24 members, but due to deaths and flights some members split up, the group is now made up of 14 members with 4 silverbacks, 4 adult females, 3 juveniles and 1 infant. The group is under the leadership of Ndahura know to be a peaceful leader.

Oruzogo family

The family was first opened for tracking in 2011, and after habituation, the group had 25 members with two silverbacks. At the moment the group comprises of 17 members with one silverback Tibirikwata the head of the family, 2 black backs, 7 females, 2 young adults and 5 infants. In the region, it has the highest number of members and it derives its name from a particular plant in the region near its home where it was first spotted. The group became famous in 2013 when its member gave birth to a set of twins a female by name Kankonda and this group is very playful making it a joy to watch to those visiting for Gorilla tracking.

Kyaruguriro Gorilla Family.

The group was habituated in 1999 and was set aside as a research group for those interested in research and habituation. The group was made up of 20 members with Rukina as the head silverback who later died after being struck by lightning. The group was left in the leadership of the immature mukiza in 2016, then fights erupted between Mukiza and Rukara which split the group into two Kyaguriro A and Kyaguriro B with A having 10 members and B having had 10 as well and also known as Mukiza Gorilla Family.

Rushaga sector

Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Families. Located in the south park to Bwindi impenetrable National Park, Rushaga is a home for 5 Gorilla Families which by far is the most of any sector, and its gorilla families are easy to trek due to the nature of terrine in the region. Rushaga can be easily accessed through Kisoro and becomes a straightforward tracking point for those traveling from Kigali. The habituated families in this region include Busingye, Bweza, Nshongi, Mishaya and Kahungye which are all available tracking and open to tourists. Also, this is the only region in Bwindi that offers Gorilla Habituation experience with two families Bushaho and Bikyingi currently going through the process. The sector, also like buhoma and ruhija sectors, offers a chance of the Batwa community visit experience for those interested in cultural encounters.

About gorilla families in Rushaga sector

Nshongi Gorilla Group

This used to be the largest gorilla group in Bwindi and boosted over 36 Gorilla members in the Family. Over the years the group has broken up twice to form the now Bweza and Mishaya Gorilla Family. At the moment the group has 25 members with Nshongi as the dominant silverback heading the group and other 3 sub silverbacks, 4 blackbacks, 7 Adult females and 6 juveniles and 4 infants. The fact that this group has many members makes it a beauty to watch as it’s a jolly and playful group with the infants mostly.

Mishaya Gorilla Group

This group is a break away from the nshongi Gorilla group, and in 2010 there were flight and disputes and Mishaya the silverback split to create its group, the silverback managed to take away with him 7 members, the group is famous for its fighting nature and over the course of the years it has managed to attract other members (female) with the number now increasing its members up to 12 and 3 infants.

Bweza Gorilla Group

This initially broke away from Nshongi Gorilla Family with 8 members in 2013, and while park authorities through this group would reconcile with Nshongi and join back, it failed to do so and was opened up to the general public for tracking. The group and consists of 1 silverback, 2 infants and the others being females and juveniles. It’s the most exciting group to watch by visitors as it goes about its day to day activities in the park.

Kahungye Gorilla Family

The group was habituated in 2011 and opened for tracking, and by then it had 27 members, not even after a year the group through flights, and misunderstandings split creating the Busingye group. As of now the group remained with 13 members with the silverback Rumansi and followed by 2 black backs Rwigi and Ruhamuka, females and juveniles.

Busingye Gorilla Family.

The group was created in 2012 after splitting up from Kahungye group, and the group gets its name from its head Busingye meaning “peace” ironically he is not a peaceful Gorilla, he is known for picking fights amongst other groups. Busingye started with 7 members, but now the group has been able to grow up to 8 members and is thriving from grabbing females from other males, and this is a sign of power.

Gorilla Habituation experience gorilla families in Rushaga

It’s the process where mountain gorillas are trained to get used to humans is called Gorilla Habituation, the process takes several years of training with a team of well-trained Gorilla rangers and doctors, they spend day after day with the gorillas making them get used to seeing people. The process takes up to 4 hours every day with the Gorillas, and there are two families for habituation, i.e. Bikyingi gorilla family and Bushaho gorilla families currently undergoing this process. Bikyingi family is located in Rushaga 21 members with 1 Silverback 2 sub-adults, 9 females and 9 infants while Bushaho family located farther south close to Nkuringo sector is made up of 8 individuals with 1 silverback called Bahati, 1 black back, 1 sub-adult, 3 adults females1 juvenile and 2 infants. Bahati the head a former member of Nkuringo Gorilla Family.

Nkuringo sector

The sector is also located in the southern part of Bwindi, Nkuringo is home to Nkuringo family and Christmas family available for trekking. At times, Bushaho gorilla family crosses from Rushaga to Nkuringo Nkuringo sector, which means you can find them either way. Nkruingo is located on higher altitudes, which make trekking in this region very strenuous and hard. The sector is recommended for the young and energetic travellers and those interested in something beyond just seeing gorillas but also hiking. While in this area it’s clear and straightforward to see the Virunga Volcanoes in Uganda and Rwanda and may give you ideas to visit the region.

About Gorilla families in Nkuringo sector

Nkuringo Gorilla Family

This was the first family that was habituated in 1997 and habituation process started, the group was opened up for tracking in 2004, the group gets its name from the local area it was first spotted Nkuringo meaning “Hills”. When it was first opened the group comprised of 19 members but over the years the members have reduced to now just 12 members in the group. The group was lead by Rafiki which is a Swahili word which means “Friend”, after his death in 2008, the group is also known to be the first group to have given birth to twins in 2004 but one of the twins passed away later.

Bushaho Gorilla family

Bushaho gorilla family has 9 members known for now. Still, just like other gorilla families, it may expand in size depending on newborn babies, whether the dominant Silverback will be able to conquer other members from other unhabituated mountain gorillas in that region. Now that Bushaho gorilla family was opened in 2016 bringing the total number of gorilla families in all four regions of Bwindi has now increased to 17 meaning that Uganda is one of the best countries to see these endangered mountain gorillas in the wild.

Christmas Gorilla Family.

Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Families. The Christmas gorilla family is located in the southern part of Bwindi in Nkuringo region. This is the third mountain gorilla family to be habituated in Nkuringo, making it three gorilla groups open for gorilla trekking in this region. The Christmas group is reported to have up to 9 members with 6 mainly seen when trekking this family. The group is headed by a dominant silverback known as Christmas, One black back, three females and one baby. This group is available for tracking and its known for its tendencies of coming to neighboring communities searching for food.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Gorillas

There is one family of habituated gorillas here the – Nyakagezi group. This group has more than 11 members; it is now open for tracking but confirmation about the presence of the gorillas has to be done with the UWA Kisoro office at least a night before tracking. Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Families

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