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The 15 Gorilla Groups you can Trek on Safari in Uganda

Posted by on April 23, 2018

15-Gorilla Groups you can Trek-14 in Bwindi Forest-1 in Mgahinga Gorilla Park

Uganda’s Gorilla Habituation Experience Groups – 2 – Gorilla Trekking Groups 13

There are 15 Gorilla Groups you can Trek. 13 for a one hour Visit- 12 Habituated Groups in Bwindi Gorilla Groups you can TrekImpenetrable Forest and 1 in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. 8 daily Visitors are allowed for each of the groups and you are with them for a period of one hour.

Two Groups undergoing Gorilla Habituation can be trekked with the one-of-a-kind Gorilla Habituation Experience Program where you are 4 hours with a Gorilla Family on an All-Day Trek.

The Gorilla Habituation Experience takes place in the Southern Area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in the Rushaga – Nkuringo sectors. There are only 4-Visitors are allowed with each Group who are with researchers and trekkers.  This being not just a Gorilla Visitation but a Learning Experience.

Please Note:  The number of Gorilla Groups you can Trek in Uganda is often misrepresented, reporters, travel sites simply get it wrong.  The same applies to travel forums, even Travel Guides including the Bradt Guide, even Tour-Operator sites that do not do their research.

The 15 Gorilla Groups you can Trek in Uganda. mostly in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where there are 400 plus Gorillas in total coming from over 36 Gorilla Families or Social Groups.  There are also 16 Solitary Males that roam the ancient Forest which will be rarely seen.I

In Mgahinga Gorilla Park there are 80 plus Gorillas and one habituated Gorilla Family open for Trekking in this park that replicates Trekking in Rwanda – the Gorilla Group here is the Nyakezi Family.

The 13 Habituated Gorilla Groups that can be trekked in Uganda translate into 104 Gorilla Permits in Uganda per day – Add to that the two groups that can be visited on the Gorilla Habituation Experience and you 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.

Habituated Gorilla Groups are used to human beings, a process that is about two years and longer.  During that time the gorillas become used to the Presence Humans and go about their daily business while you are visiting them.

Please Note:  There are four areas within Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where you can track the various habituated gorilla families – they are listed below and the corresponding Gorilla Families.  This at times brings confusion to Visitors wanting to choose a particular group to trek, it can also be confusing when picking a Gorilla Lodge.

Please look at the Map and you can see some of the different entrance points into the Forest – Rushaga is not clearly marked but it is near Nkuringo.

Picking the Habituated Group that you want to Trek:

That is done on the day of your Trek and our Driver-Guide will assist in the process which is during the orientation meeting at each Trailhead.  This is a change from times past, but it is working out well and visitors normally get to visit the group that they have chosen.

Number of Gorillas in a Family:  The number of Gorillas in a family as described below are current as of January 2018.  They may and will change during the year –  The Key to a successful Gorilla Trek is not the number of Gorillas but the experience that you have.

Gorilla Trekking in 2018 :  The Trends in Gorilla Tourism for 2018

The 15 Gorilla Groups you can Trek In Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park in 2018

The 3 Habituated Gorilla Families in the Buhoma Area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest:

The Buhoma area was the first area to be opened up for Gorilla Trekking in 1991.  It has become the area with most of the infrastructure including its excellent Community Hospital, lodges, activities such as Mountain Biking, Village walk and the Batwa Experience which is a hike into the forest with the Batwa Pygmies, the first people of the Forest.

Mubare aka Mubale Gorilla Group also called the M-Group 

Location: Buhoma
Group size: 11

The Habituated Gorilla Groups that can be trekked in UgandaThe 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.

Gorilla Families are like human families with all kinds of dynamics, for Gorilla families that meet new additions through birth, through conquest and fights with other groups, At the beginning of 2018 there are 11 members of theMubare family led by the Silverback Kanyonyi – Beside him, there are 6 Adult Females,, 1 Sub-Adult (Gorilla Teenager) and 3 Infants – Toddlers.

The ease of tracking with the Mubare group varies – they used to be closer to the Buhoma Park Headquarters but more and more it takes an over 5-hour round-trip to track the group.

The word Mubare refers to the area where the group was first discovered in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

On the Dark Side of this Gorilla Family – Ruhondeza who died tragically in 2012 – the founder of the Mubare Group practiced infanticide, killing younger males that might become a threat to him.  Only the present leader Kanyonyi somehow survived.

The Mubare Group has been visited by Tourists since 1991.

Habinyanja Gorilla Group also called H-Group

Location: Buhoma
Group size:  17

The Habinyanja Gorilla Family was one of the earlier habituated groups in the Buhoma area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and over the years has had thousands of visitors from around the world that have spent an hour with them in the ancient forest.

It normally takes a full day – five hours or more 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.

It is a larger group of 17 led by Makara the lead Silverback.  There are also 1 black-back, 5 adult females, 1 sub-adult, 3 juveniles and 6 infants.

Please note that such figures change as gorilla babies arrive, old members, die or move to another group and other factors.

The group was first discovered near a swamp in Bwindi Impenetrable the name Habinyanja comes from the local name for water “Nyanja”

The Group was opened for Visitation by Trekkers in 1996.

The Rushegura Gorilla Group also referred to as the R Group:

Location: Buhoma
Group size:  16

The Rushegura Gorilla Group is one of the larger groups (16) in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and in the Buhoma area of the park.  Tracking time for this group tends to be shorter in recent times since they have stayed around the park headquarters area.  This group at times ventured out of the park and we had a group on safari who had this group outside of their tent during the night until the next morning to their delight.  They were simply amazed, to say the least.

Two different recent clients insisted on staying three nights at Gorilla Forest Camp because they were both hoping that the visit with the American photographer they saw on YouTube just might be replicated and they would see the gorilla group there.

Those wanting a shorter Trek should note that this large gorilla group can be often tracked in a shorter time than 5 hours.  There is, however, no guarantee that the gorillas may choose to venture off and it will take a longer time to track them.

The Rushegura Gorilla Family is led by Kabukojo the silverback, 4 blackbacks, 4 adult females, 3 juveniles, 4 infants making it a total of 16..

The 3 Habituated Gorilla Families  in the Ruhija Area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest:

The Ruhija area is a growing area with the choice of lodging from budget to upmarket, there are no luxury lodges in the area at this time but that may soon change.

The Oruzogo Gorilla Group:

Location: Ruhija
Group size:  17

The Oruzogo Gorilla Family can be tracked from the Ruhija area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – it is a larger group of 17 gorillas. The Oruzogo group has become 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.

If you want more sleep and rest and less driving, you ask your tour operator to book you into a lodge in the Ruhija area and not in the Buhoma 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 the gorilla tracking orientation.

The Oruzogo Gorilla Family started to receive visitors in 2011 and those who came to visit them simply love this group.  It is not an extreme trek but you need medium endurance and stamina.

The Oruzogo Gorilla Family is led by the Bakwate and there is 1 other silverbacks, 2 black backs, 5 adult females, 2 sub-adults, 1 juvenile and 5 infants.

Bitukura Gorilla Group:  

Location: Ruhija
Group size:  13

The Bitukura Gorilla group family learns quickly.  Normally it takes two years of habituation training but this group was ready for visitors in 15 months.  There are 14 members and a newborn arrived recently on the scene.

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.

Unlike some other groups, the Bitukura Gorilla Group gets along with one another, there has been peace and harmony in the group and no usual infighting that is found in other groups.

The Bitukura Gorilla Family is led by Ndahura and is made up of 4 silverbacks, 4 adult females, 2 juveniles and 3 infants – It is unusual to have this many Silverbacks in one group but they get along.

In order to track the Bitikura Gorilla Group, it is best to stay in the Ruhija area of the park, if you do stay in Buhoma – you have to leave quite early in order to make the gorilla tracking orientation in time.

Kyaguliro Gorilla Group:

Location: Ruhija
Group size:  20

The Kyaguliro A&B Group is a family with a history and with a family split.  It was originally habituated beginning in 1995, however, it was a family that was not visited by tourists and there were no permits issued for the Gorilla Group.  It was set aside as a Research Group studied by the German Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology.

The group had a major tragedy when the leader or family head Rukina was struck dead by lightning on April 7th, 2015.  After his death the group was led by an inexperienced young Silverback (Mukiza) who was later ambushed by an immigrating Adult Silverback (Rukara) from the Bitukura family, this fueled a split of the family into two – (Kyaguliro A -Rukara and Kyaguliro B -Mukiza) in May of 2016.

By the time you arrive, things may change again. Presently the two families continue to stay within close proximity of each other which has the potential for a reunion or crossing over of some family members. They are most often found deep in the forest and do not venture out into the peripheral areas.

The A&B groups are made up of Rukara which is composed of 10 individuals; 1 silverback, 2 blackbacks, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants, while the second group,  Mukiza is also made up of 10 individuals who include; 1 silverback, 4 adult females, 1 subadult and 4 infants.

 The 5 Habituated Gorilla Families  in the Rushaga Area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest:

Rushaga is the best Area in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for Gorilla Trekking – the area is easily accessed from Kigali Rwanda.

Nshongi Gorilla Group:

Location: Rushaga
Group size:  7

The Nshongi Gorilla Family is one of the larger habituated gorilla groups in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest after the recent split with where Mweza group was formed there are about 18 gorillas in the family.  The Nshongi Gorilla Group was introduced with much fanfare and celebrities from far and wide came in 2009.

Today things have calmed down and daily there are visitors to Uganda trekking the Nshongi Mountain Gorilla Family found here

The Nshongi gorilla family group is named after the Nshongi River where they were first found where this group was discovered 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 Nhongi 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:

Location: Rushaga
Group size:  12

The Mishaya Gorilla Family is another one of those gorilla groups putting the Rushaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest on the map of gorilla trekking since it gives the area an ever-increasing number of gorilla families.

Presently there are 12 family members led by Mishaya with 1 dominant silverback but in the world of gorilla families again like in our human families and friendship groups that number can change.  Silverbacks – there is one here will bring in other females into their groups or be 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 was 7 gorilla but like we noticed earlier, gorilla families sometimes are joined by friends or even acquire more member in successful battles.

The leader of the Mishaya gorilla group is Mishaya and he is a fighter – not too long ago the gorilla family was in a battle with another un-habituated gorilla group and some members of the group were treated for injuries.

Kahungye Gorilla Group

Location: Rushaga
Group size:  17

The Kahungye Gorilla Group is another Rushaga are gorilla family sizeable in number even after a recent split in the Family creating the new Busingye Gorilla Group.

The Kahungye Gorilla Family is led by Rumanzi and there are a total of  17 individuals that includes 3 silverbacks, 3 blackbacks, 3 adult females, 3 sub-adult, 3 juveniles and two infants.

The group was opened for visitors and gorilla tracking in 2011 after being habituated, a process that takes over 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 Kahungye comes from a hill in the Rushaga area where the gorillas were discovered. Once again, you cannot get permits for a particular group ahead of time, but the group you trek is determined with your input.

Busingye Gorilla Group

Location: Rushaga
Group size:  9

The Busingye Gorilla Family is a splinter group from the Kahungye Gorilla Group – an event that happened in August of 2012.  At the last check, the group consisted of 9 members and among them were three infants and what is called a sub-adult – gorilla teen.

This new group has created some excitement in Internet forums since it is a new group open 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.

Meaning 8 more permits in the Rushaga Area of the park.

Again due to the fluidity of the situation, at the present time, permits for the Busingye Gorilla Group are being handled at the local Uganda Wildlife Authority Office in Rushaga – that will most likely change in the near future and we will update it here.

Bweza Gorilla Group:

Location: Rushaga
Group size: 12

The Bweza Gorilla Family is an example of another family feud that leads another new gorilla family setting up household in the Rushaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.  The Bweza Gorilla family is led by the Silverback Kakono and is made up of 12 individuals including; 2 silverbacks, 4 blackbacks, 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.

Now they can be tracked in the Rushaga area of the park.  This is exciting news as the summer months approach which normally means a scarcity of permits.

Here is an announcement from the Uganda Wildlife Authority “The Area Conservation Manager BMCA Mr. Pontious Ezuma contends that with these gorilla dynamics coming into play,

UWA 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.

The  Habituated Gorilla Family  in the Nkuringo Area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest:

Nkuringo Gorilla Group:

Location: Rushaga
Group size: 12

Tracking the Nkuringo Gorilla Group takes a bit more energy and stamina.  This is probably the toughest trek in Uganda. The group may be the toughest group to trek and that has to do with the terrain at the beginning and end of the trek.

Yet there are not many complaints about being exhausted.   A better word would be exhilarated after the experience of a lifetime.

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 Nkuringo Group led by the Silverback Rafiki is made up of 12 individuals; 2 silverbacks, 1 blackback, 2 adult females, 2 sub-adults, 3 juveniles and two infants,

Nkuringo Group may be the toughest to track due to the tough terrain, however, those that take it – love it.

The  Habituated Gorilla Family in Mgahinga Gorilla Park:

Nyakagezi Gorilla Group:

Location: Mgahinga Gorilla Park
Group size: 10

The Nyakagezi  Gorilla Family is the only habituated gorilla group in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.  There are over 80 Mountain Gorillas found in Mgahinga National Park

This 10 member group has the migratory spirit within them and they think that they are frequent travelers, taking off for the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Fortunately they have not done so in recent years.

They returned to Mgahinga Gorilla Park in 2012 and this time they seem to have discovered home – the Mgahinga National Parks as their home once again.

The Nyakagezi  Gorilla Family is led by the Silverback  Mark and composed of 10 individuals; 5 silverbacks, 2 adult females, 2 juveniles, and 1 infant.

There are no new Gorilla Group Families being habituated in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Mgahinga Gorilla Park:

The Two  Gorilla Families to visit for 4-Hours in the Southern Part of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest On a Gorilla Habituation Experience – Permit Price 1,500 USD.

Gorilla Habituation Experience Groups to trek:

There are two Gorilla Groups that are being habituated in the Rushaga – Nkuringo Area in the South of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.  Both groups can be tracked and you can spend 4 hours with a Gorilla Family on an all-day trek., The cost is 1500 USD per permit instead of 600 USD for a normal permit

The program opened for visitors on a Pilot Program that has in 2017 been made a permanent activity offering by the Uganda Wildlife Authority..  In 2018 over 60% of our Gorilla Trekking Clients choose the Gorilla Habituation Experience over regular gorilla trekking.

Kabiza Wilderness Safaris is one of the leading Gorilla Habituation Experience Tour Operators taking clients to meet the Bushao and Bikingi Gorilla Families.

Gorilla Habituation Experience Information:

Gorilla Habituation Experience Safaris:

Comparing Gorilla Trekking with the Gorilla Habituation Experience:

These are Uganda’s habituated gorilla families that are open for gorilla tracking.  There is also the Kyaguriro Gorilla family that is habituated but used for research and studies. In 2018 there are 13 habituated gorilla groups that visitors can track in Uganda – 104 permits and visitors per day.

Add to that the two Gorilla Families that be tracked on the Gorilla Habituation Experience and you have 15 Gorilla Groups that can be visited in Uganda. which if you add 8 more permits, 4 for each of the groups with which you can spend 4 hours instead of one and you have a total 112 permits and potential Visitors per day in Uganda making it the leading Gorilla Trekking Country with the largest number of Permits..

Visit the 15 Gorilla Groups you can Trek in Uganda – if you have any questions – please ask us.

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