Volcanoes national park has 10 habituated gorilla groups and each group is visited by a maximum of 8 people every day. These groups have different locations within the forest and so the time you spend tracking depends on where your particular gorilla family has found a home or food on that particular day. Habituated gorilla groups in Rwanda include;
- Susa Group. Also called the Susa A Family was Dian Fossey research group, named after Susa River that goes through where this group is located. Susa often stays up in the mountain ranges thus making hard to track. It originally had 42 members and was the biggest and so tracking this family wasn’t fun at all because they would be all over the place. It was re-sized to only 28 including 3 Silverbacks. In this group, you find the famous Byishimo & Impano twins and their mother takes good care of them both unlike other mothers who usually dump one of the twins because it’s hard to care for both baby gorillas.
This family is also called Susa B because it was split from Susa A family when it got so big. It has 15 members, often seen around the slopes of Rwanda’s highest peak Karisimbi therefore its suitable for the serious hikers given their location. You need to be physically fit to track this group as they sometimes move to higher altitude hence making it a full day activity and tiresome.
Sabyinyo Gorilla Group
This family was name after Sabyinyo volcano and it’s the easiest to track since they are closer. Their alpha is called Gironde and he is the largest as well as most powerful of all alphas. He is physically huge and has managed to keep Ryango his biggest contender isolation. This family has the least members of only 8 but it’s as impressive as the rest.
Amahoro Gorilla Group
The name means peaceful group and indeed it’s the most peaceful of all families. it has 17 members only because some of them were taken away by Charles from Umubano since Ubumwe, Amahoro’s alpha is too peaceful and easy going to fight for his members.
The name means neighborliness; it has 11 members with Charles as the alpha and they all broke off Amahoro after Charles matured into an alpha himself. Charles and Ubumwe went to battle when the former couldn’t take orders from the later anymore, he walked away with some members forming their family.
13 Group (also called Agasha Group)
This originally had 13 members thus the name but today it has about 25 members or so. Agashya is the alpha after overthrowing Nyakarima after a fierce battle and walked away with the whole group. Agashya moved up the volcano, formed a new family and Agashya’s family has been growing since then.
This family has 18-member and it’s named after its alpha Kwitonda meaning humble one. Group has 2 silverbacks and 1 blackback. Sometimes it’s very hard to track this family as they sometime wonder off too far into the jungle since they migrated from Congo. This makes it and Susa B the hardest families to track.
The name means lucky one and it’s a product of a merge from Group 13 and Sabyinyo that is why it’s a very tiny family of 9 members. In spite of the fact that it’s a new family, Hirwa is strong and protects its own against all danger.
This family has 11 members with Bwenge as the silverback and it’s commonly found the Karisoke slopes. It was formed in 2007 after Bwenge deserted his former group to form his and he was later followed by some females from different families. Tracking this group is also hectic because you have to hike up the hill which takes about 3 hours as the trails are often very muddy and slippery. Important to note about this group is that it featured in the “Gorillas in the Mist” the movie.
This family lives around Karisimbi region. It has 11 members among which are 2 silverbacks and just like the name suggests “being on the move”, it’s often moves from one place to another which makes it hard to track. You may have to walk the whole day looking for them.
Gorillas are the most sought primates is Africa therefore, there are thousands of tourists from all parts of the world do visit Uganda, Rwanda and DR.Congo for these amazing apes. Gorilla trekking requires proper preparations which include getting the right dress code and all the other stuff you may need during your trek.