The 12 Habituated Gorilla Groups that can be trekked in Uganda

Posted by on August 6, 2017

The 12 Habituated Gorilla Groups that can be trekked in Uganda – 11 in Bwindi – 1 in Mgahinga Gorilla Park

There 11 Habituated Gorilla Groups in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and 1 in Mgahinga Gorilla Park – 12 in all – meaning 96 Gorilla Permits per day – Still at 600 USD. 


The 12 Habituated Gorilla Groups that can be trekked in Uganda – 11 are found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and 1 in Mgahinga Gorilla Park. Two Groups can be accessed under the one of a kind Gorilla Habituation Experience Program where you are 4 hours with a Gorilla Family. This takes place in the Southern Area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in the Rushaga – Nkuringo sectors.


The 12 Habituated Gorilla Groups that can be trekked in Uganda. mostly in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where The 12 Habituated Gorilla Groups that can be trekked in Ugandathere 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.  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 – they Gorilla Group here is the Nyakezi Family.

The 12 Habituated Gorilla Groups that can be trekked in Uganda translate into 96 Gorilla Permits in Uganda per day – there are only 80 permits per day in Rwanda.  Add on top of that the two groups undergoing Gorilla Habituation in the Southern Area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and you have 104 visitors that can spend a memorable time with a Gorilla Family – do note that the Gorilla Habituation Experience allows only 4 visitors, is 4 hours with a Gorilla Family on an all day trek and the permits are 1500 USD per person instead of 600.

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 Human Presence and simply go about their daily business while you are visiting them.

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 some. 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:

You will be most like to do so – but unlike in the past where Permits were bought for a particular group, that in most instances in no longer possible.  On the day of the Safari during the trekking orientation you can give your input and normally your request is honored and you are off into the forest tracking the group of your choice.


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


The Buhoma Area is one the busiest area of the park in terms of activities one can partake in and in terms of lodges where one can stay.  There are definitely a lot more rooms available than there are permits – it was the first area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest that was open for gorilla tracking. There are 3 Habituated Gorilla Families that are found in this secto of the park


Mubare aka Mubale Gorilla Group also called the M Group:

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 member and when the leader, the silverback Ruhondeza died it left only 5 family members.

In 2013 four other gorillas have joined the Mubare gorilla family and there are now nine family member as members of other groups have become part oft he Mubare group.

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.

When the Mubare group was six and then five in number after the death of their lead silverback Ruhondeza tour operators and visitors avoided using the group for visitation but that has changed in recent times since their number has risen to 9 due to new strong leadership from the new Silverback who has taken charge of the group.

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

The advantage with the Mubare Gorilla Group is that they can be tracked from the Buhoma area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.


Habinyanja Gorilla Group also called H Group:

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 about 18 in size with two Silverbacks – but 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”

Gorilla Families like Human Families have a split at times and the Rushegura family also found in the general Buhoma area split off some years back to form its own family.  Today these two families and the Mubare Gorilla Families cross each others paths and the meetings are mostly peaceful in nature.


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

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

Like many groups in the Park – the Rushegura Gorilla Group is another splinter group, this one from the Habinyanja Gorilla Group.

Buhoma is an exciting place with three great gorilla groups of which the Rushegura Group is one.


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.  There are 3 Gorilla Groups that can be trekked here – one of the Groups is a research group that is also used for Visitors.

The Oruzogo Gorilla Group:

The Oruzogo Gorilla Family can be tracked from the Ruhija area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – it is a larger group of 22 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.
Ruhija in the last two years has had more lodges become available from budget to upmarket and it does make it easier if a visitor to the Oruzogo group stays right in Ruhija.


Bitukura Gorilla Group: 

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 tht is foiund in other groups.

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:

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.


Rushaga Area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest:

Rushaga is the best Area in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for Gorilla Trekking and the only area for The Gorilla Habituation Experience.


Nshongi Gorilla Group

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 at 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.

If you want to trek the group – that is determined on the day of the trek and can easily be arranged.


Mishaya Gorilla Group

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 it is about 7 gorilla members 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

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.

One reason we do not like to put the numbers of gorilla groups online since the numbers are somewhat fluid and tend to change with this or that argument in the family.

We do put the numbers and size for a gorilla group at the time we write up an itinerary and obtain permits for a group for you.

The group was opened for visitors and gorilla tracking in 2011 after being habituated, a process that takes over two years.

The Name Kahungye comes from a hill in the Rushaga area where the gorillas were discovered. Once again, yo cannot get permits for a particular groiup ahead of time, but the group you trek is determined wieth your input.


Busingye Gorilla Group

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 like change in the near future and we will update it here.

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 like change in the near future and we will update it here.


Bweza Gorilla Group

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 group is 7 member strong and there are 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.


Nkuringo Area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest:

Nkuringo Gorilla Group

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 ending of the trek.

Yet there are not many complaining 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 is a large group in the southern, scenic area of Nkuringo, a not to be forgotten experience.

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


Mgahinga Gorilla Park:

Nyakagezi Gorilla Group:

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 9 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.

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.

This group has to be confirmed that will be in Mgahinga National Park Headquarters in the Kisoro area 24 hours before scheduled tracking.

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

Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Mgahinga Gorilla Park:


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 2013 there are 12 habituated gorilla groups that visitors can track in Uganda – 96 permits and visitors per day…a once in a lifetime experience, for some a twice in a lifetime experience since they track gorillas twice while in Uganda…enjoy your time with the Mountain Gorillas of Uganda…take a look at our Best Gorilla Trekking Safaris.


Gorilla Habituation Experience Groups to trek:

There are two Gorilla Groups that are being habituated in the Rushaga Area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.  Under a Pilot Program, both groups can be tracked and you can spend 4 hours with a Gorilla Family, the cost is 1500 USD per permit instead of 600 USD for a normal permit

This a  Pilot Program that is being closely monitored and up to date has been a complete success.  The program is very similar to the CHEX – Chimpanzee Habituation Experience.

 

The Habituation Experience is only offered in Uganda – is a Uganda exlusive.


Visit the 12 Habituated Gorilla Groups that can be trekked in Uganda – if you have any questions – please ask us.