There are over 12 gorilla tracking families in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest that you can track according to report 2018.
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.
Group size: 11
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.
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 the Mubare 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.
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.
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.
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 black backs, 4 adult females, 3 juveniles, 4 infants making it a total of 16..
The Ruhija area is a growing area with the choice of lodging from budget to upmarket, and luxury lodges in the area.
The Oruzogo Gorilla Group:
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 silverback and there is 1 other silverback, 2 black backs, 5 adult females, 2 sub-adults, 1 juvenile and 5 infants.
Bitukura Gorilla Group:
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,
Kyaguliro Gorilla Group:
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 sub adult 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.
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:
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
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
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 was 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:
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:
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.
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.
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..
Family size: 9 members including and one silverback
Mubare is the oldest habituated gorilla group in Uganda. It was found in the Mubare hills, deep in Bwindi forest, and was fully habituated in 1993. The group started with 12 family members, led by the dominant silverback Ruhondeza. In a few years the group grew to 18 individuals. Unfortunately, due to fights with wild gorilla groups and loss of members
Family size: 15 members including 2 silverbacks
The Habinyanja group was first visited by tourists in 1999. The name comes from “Nyanja” which is the local word for ‘body of water’. It refers to the swamp in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where the group was first sighted. Habinyanja is a fascinating family with a lot of drama and commotion. This is caused by the power struggles between the dominant silverbacks and fights for the family leadership. The adult females are led by the shrewd alpha female called Kisho
Family size: 18 members including and no silverback
The Rushegura gorilla family was brought together in 2002, after one of the silverbacks from the Habinyanja group decided to break away. They started with 12 individuals including 5 females. This “Habinyanya 2 group” quickly received a new name, that derives from “Ebishegura” – a tree specie that was abundant in the home area of the new family. The Rushegura group is a calm family. In the past they used to cross the border to neighboring DRC every now and than but always returned to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. They are usually not far from Buhoma Village and sometimes even wander through the gardens of the lodges
Family size: 12 members including 4 silverbacks
The Bitukura group was named after a river where the family members were first sighted. The habituation that started in July 2007 was a relatively easy process as the gorillas were already frequently encountered by the UWA rangers. Although the habituation process normally takes a minimum of two years, this group could already be visited by tourists within 15 months after the start. Bitukura is a peaceful family including 4 silverbacks and some playful juveniles. They share a close bond and often have ‘group meetings’ or get-togethers.
Family size: 19 members including 2 silverbacks
The Nkuringo group was named after the Rukiga word for “round hill” and was launched in 2004. One of the most important reasons for their habituation were the problems they created for the local communities by destroying crops and other products. By opening up the gorilla family for visitors, the community could directly benefit from tourism and it formed a protection for the gorillas as well. The family was led by the silverback Nkuringo who died in 2008, leaving behind 2 silverbacks in the group. In November 2008, the Nkuringo family expanded thanks to the special birth of a twin – Katungi and Muhozi – though Katungi unfortunately died at the age of 1.5 years. Please note that gorilla families in Uganda keep changing as more members are born, other die and other gorilla families in Uganda separate to produce more families.
Family size: 36 members including 5 silverbacks
Nshongi is the largest group ever habituated and was officially launched in September 2009. It was named after the river Nshongi, close to the place where the gorilla family was first seen. Although most gorilla families in Uganda usually consist of 25 members with one or two silverbacks, this family is a rare exception. Another remarkable fact is that the group is led by Nshongi, who is not even the oldest silverback in the family.
Family size: 7 members including 1 silverbacks
Busingye gorilla group is the newest family to break away from Kahungye which was opened for trekking in 2011. It was suspected that at one time Kahungye would split as it had three silver backs and a bigger group.