Gorilla tours in the last decade has become one of the more African thrilling adventure encounter as more of the travelers have resorted to securing a day on their African trip to spend it with the apes. Throughout the mountain gorilla zone there are habituated gorilla groups that available for gorilla safaris and are well protected to enable a reasonable number of trekkers have an ample time with the apes.
Gorillas are known to be more sociable species living in groups commonly known as families. Before gorillas are ready for trekking they first under habituation process which can last for not less than two years until they get used to human presence. Though gorillas are well known for being hugest among all primate species and sometimes very aggressive apes to any threat that they can fight to defend their families even until death, but they are shy species which can try hiding away in the presence of human and this is a reason why they are first undergo habituation process to ensure a close-up encounter for trekkers.
Uganda was the first country to habituate a gorilla group which process started in 1991 in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Today Uganda alone hosts 19 habituated gorilla families available for trekking from is two gorilla parks of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
A list of habituated gorilla groups in Uganda
Mubare Gorilla group
Mubara gorilla group was the first habituated family in the world in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Habituation started earlier in 1991 and was opened for tourists in 1993, it can be trekked from Buhoma sector which is the commonly known sector as it hosts the park headquarters. Buhoma sector mainly is the less changing trekking sector as gorillas can even be located around some lodges. Mubara gorilla groups has suffered from a number of challenges among which include losing of members as its number of individuals keeps of fluctuating.
Habunyanja Gorilla Group
The Habinyanja gorilla family is one of the oldest habituated in 1997 and was opened for trekking by 1999. The name “Habinyanja” is derived from the local Rukiga language “Nyanja” meaning “a place with water”, where the group was first sighted. This gorilla family is under the leadership of Makara the dominant silverback who grabbed lead from Rwansigazi but both silverbacks co-existed harmoniously.
Rushegura Gorilla group
Rushegura family was broke out from Habinyanja following the death of the old silverback Mugurusi, the two brothers Rwansigazi and Mwirima shared power but due to their differences descried to breakup forming Rushegura. Rwansigazi was an adventurous who always liked travelling, but Mwirima preferred always wanted staying in close ranges. The family was named Rushegura a place where the two families splinted from in 2000 and in 2002 was fully habituated and opened for trekking. Another old gorilla family in Bwindi Impenetrable forest in Buhoma sector. Rushegura is one of the most cool families and easier as the family individuals can be seen wandering around lodges in Buhoma.
Oruzogo Gorilla group
The family was opened in 2011 for trekking, it can be trekked in Ruhijja sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The family in 2012 received twins from female Kabobe, it’s one of the hugest families in Bwindi with over 23 individuals. Other individuals in the group include Busungu (meaning “short tempered”), Kaganga (“the giant one”) and Bwoba (“the coward”). The family is leadf
Katwe Gorilla Group
This family is among then newly introduced habituated gorilla families in Uganda, Katwe was fully habituated and ready for trekking in 2018 leading to gorilla families in Buhoma counting to 4 families. This gorilla family was habituated for three years when was guaranteed to be familiar with human presence. Katwe was named after its leading dominant silverback Katwe. After habituation in 2018, researchers endured following and investigating Katwe to identify the exact number of members in this family.
Bitukura Gorilla Group
The family was named after River Butikura where group was first seen and this family was habituated for a period of 15 months when it became ready for trekking in 2007. This is the most peaceful family with no experiences of internal fights with a reasonable number of 24 individuals with 4 silverback which harmoniously live alongside each other. Bitukura family is situated in the Ruhijja sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Kyaguriro Gorilla Group
Kyaguriro family is among the oldest gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable forest, it was first habituated in 1999 and left aside for researchers and later it was opened for tourists. Kyaguriro is under the leadership of dominant silverback Rukara who ambushed the inexperienced Mukiza silverback who had just replaced Rukina that died of lightening on 5th April 2015. Currently the family has a reasonable number of more than 19 individual and can be trekked in Ruhijja sector.
Nshongi Gorilla Group
Nshongi family was named after River Nsongi where the family was first sited. The word Nshongi derives from “Omushongi Gwoboki, meaning ‘honey’ and referred to the deep color of the river. The family was fully habituated and opened for tourist 2009, its one of the most exciting families to trekkers in Rushagga sector of Bwindi Impenetrable forest. The Nshong family has greatly suffered with breakup with other families, it was habituated with over 36 individuals but the number reduced to 25 when Misaya family splinted and also Mishaya and Bweza splinted. Currently Nsongi family has one of the least number of individuals among all other families.
Mishaya Gorilla Group
Mishaya family one of the calmest gorilla group in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and is ever putting increase on the numbers of gorillas in Rushaga sector and currently has 12 family members. Mishaya gorilla family is friendly which even welcomes break away members to join from other families. The family originally broke away from Nshongi family in 2010 under a lead of a silverback fighter Mishaya and recently had battles with unhabituated group.
Kahungye Gorilla Group
The family was habituated and opened for tourism in October 2011. This group is one of the few gorilla groups which have maintained a sizeable number of individuals with about 17 members. From once consisted of 27 gorillas but splinted to form another family called Busingye. The group is active and led by the dominant silverback Gwigi, which means “door” in the local language.
Busingye Gorilla Group
The family splinted from Kahungye family in 2015 and by that time the family was surveyed to see if it can return back to Kahungye but was in vain. The word Busingye means peace in a local Rukiga language but this doesn’t mean that the family is peaceful has it is seen initiating fights with other families and grabing other family members and add them to Busingye family. The family started with 7 members and today the number has increased now to over 9 individuals.
Bweza Gorilla Group
Bweza family is another 3rd gorilla family that broke out from Nshongi and was fully habituated and open for trekking in 2013. There remind speculations by the park management of this family returning back to Nshongi family which never happen. Bweza splinting from Nshongi in 2010 just 2 years after Mishaya had splinted from Nshongi. The family was under the leadership of the Silverback Kakono and was composed of 12 members including 2 silverbacks, 4 blackbacks, 3 adult females, 1 sub-adult, and two toddlers.
Bikingi Gorilla Group
The family splinted for Mishaya under the leadership of Bikingi a dominant silverback in 2012 and can be trekked in Rushaga sector. Some of the Isolated individuals of this group went and co-existed with other unhabituated gorillas forming a new group which was later habituated.The family started with 15 members including one silverback, 5 adult females, 2 sub-adults, 2 juveniles and 5 infants.
Rwigi Gorilla Group
It’s among some of the newest habituated gorilla family in Rushaga sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The family splinted from kahungye and was fully habituated and opened for trekking experience on 11th April 2019. The family started with 5 members under the lead of the dominant Silverback Rwigi. This gorilla family can be trekked from the Nkuringo section of Bwindi Impenetrable forest.
Nkuring Gorilla Group
This was the first gorilla family to be habituated in the Nkuringo sector west if Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and was ready for trekking by 2004. The group was habituated short after individuals of this family had destroyed crops of the local people around the park. The family derived its name Nkuringo which means “around hill” where they were primarily sited. The family is under the lead of Rafiki the dominant silverback, it’s one of the most challenging family to trek passing through rough terrain to find them. Following the background for the habituation of this gorilla family, currently the community is benefiting directly from the tourist activities of this gorilla group.
Bushoho Gorilla Group
The family splinted from the old Nkuringo family by the lead of Bahati silverback and started with 8 individuals in 2012. The silverback after separating from the Nkuringo it was monitored and later found leading another parallel group.
Christmas Gorilla Groups
Another newest groups still under monitoring was habituated and launched in 2019. It’s now a third family in this sector and is headed by silverback Christmas that was born on Christmas. The family has a total of 9 members including 3 adult female, 3 black back, 2 babies and the leader sliver back, the family is near clouds mountain gorilla lodge and Nkuringo Bwindi lodge for excellent accommodation and feeding.