All mountain gorillas in the different gorilla destination belong to a certain gorilla family or group also called a tribe. A gorilla family comprises of 10 to 30 members headed by a dominant silverback gorilla. A group can have more than 1 silverback but the oldest is always the head, he father of the group and the prominent member of the group. A face to face encounter with these rare creatures in the wild living just like man in a social environment, is incomparably the most emotional experience that you shouldn’t miss out life. With 10 habituated gorilla groups set for tourism in the Volcanoes National Park, you certainly have a reason to visit the Land of a Thousand Hills to achieve that long time dream. For researchers, there are 2 additional groups for you to carry out your research which include the Pablo Shida and Beetsme.
For gorilla trekking adventures in Rwanda, the following are some of the habituated groups for you to track while on your trip in Rwanda.
The Susa A group
For adventure lovers, the Susa “A” gorilla family should be a must for you to trek. This group was followed by Dian Fossey while she was in for her research. The Susa group derived its name from River Susa that flows via the gorilla family’s home range. This comprises of 28 members of which 3 are silverbacks. It was once the largest number of gorillas counting about 42 but due to break off, most of the member joined the new group known as the Susa “B”. This troop also features the playful Impano and Byishimo the twin gorillas in the family. It is also from this troop that poppy who features as one of the ancient habituated gorillas by the Dian Fossey at a time originated.
The Karisimbi group
This is also known as the Susa “B” Group. It broke away from the Susa “A” troop. It comprises of 15 individuals and mainly sighted around the Karisimbi slopes. If you are wish to engage in active hikes then this is the right group for you track. However, note that the members of this group tend to roam as far as the Karisimbi caldera and this means that you may need a whole day to track through to find this group. But things have been eased where by trackers are usually sent to the jungle to find out the location of these gorillas before the next group of tourists are set off to the forest for their trek.
For tourists who are looking for simpler gorilla groups to track look not further than the Sabyinyo troop. This is headed by Guhonda silverback the renown hugest and most powerful of all the silverback gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park. Guhonda had a close challenger and the rival known as Ryango. Where as Sabyinyo troop comprised of few individuals, it is exceptionally stunning to strike your imaginations while on safari in Rwanda. The 8 member group features one silverback gorilla, 3 adult females, one non adult male, two juveniles and one baby.
This is made of 18 individuals. The word Kwitonda means humble. It features two silverbacks and one black back gorilla. This group is also famous to have moved from DRC and mainly ranges for extended distance making it one of the most challenging troops to track.
The word Umubano denotes “Neighborliness” and the group features 11 individuals with one silverback, 1 sub adult male, 3 adult females and 6 babies. This troop split from Amahoro after Charles challenged Ubumwe silverback gorilla which led him to take some of the gorillas from Ubumwe’s group. Charles was mature enough and hence he couldn’t circum to the orders of Ubumwe and the only thing he had to do was to challenge him for days, weeks and months till he overpowered him and ended up by taking some of the group members to create his own. Since then, he has had some respect from Ubumwe although some times they meet there are no fights hence a humble group to interact with while on a safari.
Hirwa gorilla group
The word “Hirwa” means the lucky one. This troop originated on 17th June 2006 when trackers sighted a cluster of individuals from different groups of Sabyinyo and Group 13 and hence creation of small troop. Lucky enough, other gorillas kept on joining and now it stands on its own with 9 individuals that include the one silverback, 3 adult females, 2 sub adult females and 3 babies.
Amahoro gorilla group
The word Amahoro denotes peaceful and this troop features 17 individuals with one silverback, 2 black backs, 5 babies, 2 juveniles, 2 sub adult males. This group is headed by Ubumwe silverback and hiking to encounter this troop in the wild requires some physical fitness.
This is also popular as aka Agashya group. It was during that period of habituation that this group had 13 individuals that it derived its name as Group 13. Currently, it is proud to be group of about 25 individuals which includes 1 silverback, 12 adult females, 2 sub adult females, 3 juveniles and 7 babies. Before it was led by Nyakarima silverback but when Agashya killed his strength he overtook him after long fight. Agashya went with al the members on top of the volcano and Nyakarima never tried following them. Agashya then kept expanding the group up to the current number. For any attack or even when visitors go to track this group, Agashya becomes suspicious and what he does is only move on top of the volcano with the group members.
Ugenda gorilla group
This means being on move. The group comprises of 11 individuals with 2 silverback gorillas. The name came as a result of its migratory behavior which also makes it a bit hard to track.
Bwenge gorilla group
This is composed of 11 individuals with one silverback gorilla. The group is mainly found around Mount Karisimbi slopes and it is led by Bwenge silverback gorilla. This group was created in 2007 after Bwenge left his original family and was joined by several female gorillas from other groups. However, this troop has had misfortunes especially when they lost 6 young gorillas although the 2 successful births tried to regain the group’s strength. This group also offers breathtaking hikes; it straddles within 600 meters which also tends to be muddy and slippery making it a bit challenging for tourists to trek through it.
In conclusion, gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park is only possible in any of the above habituated gorilla groups in Rwanda. Only one habituated family is assigned to a group of eight tourists to track every day. Each gorilla group features distinct trekking experiences and history which are all worth exploring while on Rwanda safari.