Gorilla groups in Uganda
There are over 15 gorilla groups you can trek in Uganda. There are 12 habituated groups in Bwindi impenetrable Forest and 1 group in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. There are 8 daily visitors that are allowed for each of the groups and you are with them for a period of 1 hour. There are two groups that are undergoing Habituation and can be trekked. The two groups that are undergoing gorilla Habituation can be trekked with the one of a kind and the gorilla Habituation experience program where you are given 4 hours with the gorilla family on an all day trek.
The Gorilla Habituation Experience takes places in the southern Area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in the Rushaga- Nkuringo sectors. There are over 4 visitors that are allowed with each group who are with researchers and trekkers. This being not just a Gorilla Visitation and a learning experience. There are 400 mountain gorillas in Bwindi Forest and over 80 of them in Mgahinga National Park. The 13 Habituated Gorilla Groups that can be trekked in Uganda translate into 104 Gorilla permits in Uganda per day and the two groups that can be visited on the Gorilla Habituation prince and have 15 groups open for trekking with a grand total of 112 permits. With Gorilla Habituation Experience Groups there are only 4 Visitors per group allowed. Rwanda has 80 permits per day.
The three Habituated Gorilla Families in Buhoma Area of Bwindi Forest. This area was the first to be opened up for Gorilla trekking in 1991 and it became the area with most of the Infrastructure including its great community Hospital lodges, activities like mountain biking, village walks and the Batwa Experience which is a hike into the forest with the Batwa Pygmies, the first people of the Forest.
Mubale Gorilla Group
The Mubare Gorilla Family was the first habituated gorilla group in 1998. Originally there were 12 family members and when the leader, the silverback Ruhondeza died it left only 5 family members. The gorilla families with all kinds of dynamics for gorilla families that meet new additions through birth, through conquest and fights with other groups, in 2018, there are 11 members of the Mubare family led by the silverback Kanyonyi, There are 6 adult females, 1 sub adult and the 3 infants. The ease of trekking the Mubare group varies, they used to be closer to the Buhoma park headquarters and it takes 5 hours round trip to track the group. The word Mubare also refers to the area where the group was first discovered in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Ruhondeza who was the leader of the group died in 2012 and the founder of the group practised infantide, killing younger males that might become a threat to him. It was only the current leader Kanyonyi who survived. The Mubare Group has been visited by Tourists since 1991.
Habinyanja Gorilla Group
It’s also called the H- group and it’s located in Buhoma sector. It has got 17 members. The family was one of the earlier habituated groupps in Buhoma area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and over the years has had many visitors from around the world that have spent an hour with them in the ancient forest. It normally takes a fully day to track the Habinyanja group. They daily move and roam over a wide range in the forest. Nevertheless, there are harder groups to track that take a bit more energy. This is a larger group of 17 members led by Makara the led silverback and there is 1 black back, 5 adult females, 1 sub adult, 3 juveniles and 6 infants.
This group was first discovered near a swamp in Bwindi impenetrable and the name Habinyanja comes from the local name for water Nyanja. This group was opened for visitation by trekkers in 1996.
Rushegura Gorilla Group
The group is located in Buhoma and has got 16 members. The Rushgura Gorilla group is one of the largest groups in Bwindi Forest and in the Buhoma area of the park. Tracking time for the group tends to be o shorter in recent times since they have stayed around the park headquarters area. The group offered out of the park and we had a group on tour who had this group outside of their tent during the night until the next morning to their enjoyment.
Those interested in a shorter Trek should also note that this large gorilla group can be often be tracked in a shorter time than 5 hours. There is also no guarantee that the gorillas might choose to venture off and it will take a longer time to track them. The group is led by Kabukojo the silverback, 4 black backs, 4 adult females, 3 juveniles, 4 infants making a total of 16.
The Oruzogo Gorilla Group
The group is located in Ruhija and it has got 17 members. The group can be tracked from the Ruhija area of Bwindi Forest, it’s a larger group of 17 gorillas. The Oruzogo group has become very popular with tourists not just because of the size of the group, but because of the playful energy exhibited by the juveniles and toddlers in the group that keeps visitors entertained, to say the least. In case you want more sleep and rest as well as less driving, you ask tour operator to book you into a lodge with in Ruhija area which is an hour drive time from Ruhija and that would mean leaving your lodging at 6:00 to 6:30 am in order to reach Ruhija at the right time for gorilla tracking orientation.
The group started receiving visitors in 2011 and those who came to visit them loved the group. It’s not an extreme trek but you need medium endurance and stamina. The group is led by the Bakwate and there is 1 other silverback, 2 black backs, 5 adult females, 2 sub adults, 1 juvenile and 5 infants.
Bitukura Gorilla Group
The group is located in Ruhija and has got 13 members. It takes 2 years of Habituation training and the group was ready for visitors. There are 14 members and a new-born arrived recently on the scene. The Gorilla groups gain and lose members and the Bitukura group originally consisted of 24 gorillas however other groups recruit, in the gorilla family there are feuds and some gorillas simply leave rather than fight. Contrasting to some other groups, the Bitukura Gorilla Group gets along with on with another, there has been peace and harmony in the group and there are no fighting’s found in the group.
In order to track this group, its best to stay in the Ruhija area of the park and in case you stay in Buhoma, you have to leave quite early in order to make the gorilla trekking orientation in time.
Kyaguliro Gorilla Group
It’s located in Ruhija sector and has 20 members. This Kyaguliro A & B group is a family with a history and with a history and with a family split. It was first habituated beginning of 1995, however, it was a family that was not visited by the tourists and there were no permits issued for the gorilla group. The group was set aside as a Resarch Group studied by the German Max Palnck Institute of volutionary Anthropology.
This group had gotten a tragedy when the leader of the family Rukina was struck dead by lightening in 2015. After his death, the group was led by mukiza who was later ambushed by an immigrating Adult silverback Rukara from the Bitukura family. This fuelled a split of the family into two – (Kyaguliro A -Rukara and Kyaguliro B -Mukiza) in May of 2016. The family groups are made of Rukara which is composed of 0 members; 1 silverback, 2 black backs, 3 adult females, 2 juvenile and 2 infants. The second group is called Mukiza and it’s also made of 10 members; 1 silverback, 4 adult females, 1 sub adult as well as 4 infants.’
Nshongi Gorilla Group:
The group is located in Rushaga and it has got 7 members. The Nshongi Gorilla family is one of the largest habituated gorilla groups in Bwindi Forest after the recent slit with Mweza group that was formed with about 18 gorillas in the family. The group was introduced with much fanfare and celebrities from far and wide came in 2009. The Nshongi Gorilla family was namd after the Nshongi River where they were first found some years back. The area where the Nshongi gorilla is usually found is a large forested area where you can also see other primates, birds, butterflies in the rich, thick rainforest of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. The group is headed by the silverback Bweza and there is only one silverback, 3 adult females, 1 sub adult, 1 juvenile and 1 infant.
Mishaya Gorilla Group
The family is one of those gorilla groups selling The Rushaga area of Bwindi Forest on the map of gorilla trekking since it gives the area an ever increasing number of gorilla families. It has got 12 members led by Mishaya with 1 dominant silverback. The male silverback is responsible for bringing in other females into their groups or b joined by break away members of other groups.
The Mishaya Gorilla Family Group is a breakaway group that was originally a part of the Nshongi Gorilla Family Group. By the end of 2015, the group has 7 members but sometimes they are joined by friends or even acquire more members in successful battles. The leader of the group is called Mishaya and he is a fighter as well.
Kahungye Gorilla Group
The family is found in Rushaga with 17 members even after a recent split in the family creating the new Busingye Gorilla group. The family is led by Rumanzi and there are a total of 17 individuals that includes 3 silverbacks, 3 black backs, 3 adults, 3 sub adult, 3 juveniles and the two infants. This group was opened for visitors and gorilla tracking in 2011 after being habituated, a process that takes two years. Once again we note that the size of families’ changes, they split, divorce, have feuds and runoff in a huff, while the males may raid another group and grab a few females to come along.
The name Kahugye comes from a hill in the Rushaga area where the gorillas were discovered. The permits for a particular group have to be booked in advance to avoid missing out.
Busingye Gorilla Group
The group is located in Rushaga sector and it has got 9 members. The Busingye gorilla family is a splinter group which is an event that happened in August in 2012. It has got 9 members and among them are the 3 infants and what is called a sub adult. The group has created some excitement in internet forums since it’s a new group opened for tracking. Presently the group is being observed whether there are any signs of a return to the Kahungye Gorilla Group and it seems there is too much bad blood and no sign of reconciliation. The permits for tracking Busigye are being handled by the local Uganda Wildlife Authority office in Rushaga and this will change in the near feature.
Bweza Gorilla Group:
The family is found in Rushaga and has got 12 members and it’s an example of another family feud that leads another new gorilla family setting up household in the Rushaga area of Bwindi Forest. The Bweza Gorilla family is led by the silverback Kakono and is made of 12 individuals including; 2 silverbacks, 4 black backs, 3 adult females, 1 sub-adult, and two infants. This group broke away from the Nshongi Family group because of too many feuds within the group at the end of 2013.
The gorillas can be trekked in the Rushaga area of the park. This is great news as the summer month’s approach which normally means a scarcity of permits. Uganda Wildlife Authority has got more space available for tourists who intend to do gorilla tracking in the southern sector. He advises that the visitors can now book this family because it is one of the versatile and exciting groups one can visit for a memorable time while in Bwindi’s Impenetrable Park for gorilla tourism.
Nkuringo Gorilla Group:
The Group is located in Rushaga sector and has got 12 members. Tracking the family takes a bit more energy and stamina. This is the toughest trek in Uganda and has to do with the terrain at the beginning and end of the trek. There are not many complaints about being exhausted. The better word would be exhilarated after the experience of a life time. Even a 94-year-old woman in 2013 completed this trek and fulfilled her lifelong dream of seeing the gorillas in the wild. She was however carried on a stretcher by porters into the forest.
The family is led by the silverback Rafiki and is made up of 12 members with 2 silverbacks, 1 black back, 2 adult females, 2 sub adults, 3 juveniles and 2 infants.
The family is located in Mgahinga Nationl Park and has got 10 members in total. There are over 80 mountain gorillas that are found in Mgahinga National park. The group migratory spirit with in them and they think that they are frequent travellers, taking off for DRC and Rwanda. But they have not done so in the recent years. They returned to Mgahinga Gorilla park in 2012 and this time they seem to have discovered home which is Mgahinga National Park.
The Nyakagezi Gorilla family is led by the silverback Mark and composed of 10 membrs, 5 individuals, 2 adult females, 2 juveniles and 1 infant. There are no new Gorilla Group Families being habituated in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.