There are 10 Gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park which is part of the wider Virunga mountain ranges spreading all the way to the Democratic Republic of Congo. About 500 mountain gorillas inhabit the Virunga range. The other half live in Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga gorilla parks.
Mountain gorillas live in family groups led by a dominant silverback. During gorilla tours, the allocation of gorilla families is based on their preferences, accommodation, and overall level of fitness. Some gorilla groups live deep in the forest and require longer tracking hours.
Below is a list of Gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park;
Gorillas in Volcanoes are things that attract tourists, and this group in particular. They are adventurous and always on the move to discover the different wonders of the park. As such, the hiking experience to see them is enriched like a treasure hunt as it treats you to many sights and sounds you would have missed out on. The group is currently led by a silverback called Agashya who had to overthrow Nyakarima before taking over the throne. The family’s population has grown from 13 to 27 members in a space of 8 years.
Karisimbi Gorilla Group
This gorilla group has 15 members and is usually found on the slopes of the Karisimbi volcano. This is the gorilla family that split from Susa (Susa-A) after a long feud and hence the name Susa-B or more commonly Karisimbi. Tracking this gorilla group is difficult and if they wander too far on a particular day, gorilla tracking activities can be canceled. The trackers usually go ahead of the visitors to confirm the location of the gorilla family and then relay this information to colleagues leading the tourists. If you are in great shape and can endure the long trek up the Karisimbi volcano slopes, get ready to be rewarded with beautiful scenery that makes the whole experience worth every penny.
Sabyinyo Gorilla Group
This is a small gorilla group of about 8 members led by the powerful silverback Guhonda. At 220kgs, Guhonda is perhaps the largest silverback in the park. The group derives its name from the Sabyinyo “Old man’s teeth” Volcano around which they live. Guhonda has kept his family together by excluding and relegating his rival silverback Ryango to a loner outside the group. The group contains playful juveniles and is easy to spot because they stay near the edge of the park.
Umubano Gorilla Group:
Umubano means “living together”. The Umubano group was once part of the Amahoro family until Charles the leader broke away from Ubumbwe the Amahoro dominant silverback. As he grew older he started undermining the calm Amahoro group leader. After the constant confrontations with Ubumbwe, Charles decided to make off with some females from the Amahoro family to start his own. The gorilla family contains 11 individuals with 6 youngsters and lives in the area near the Amahoro family. This gorilla group is visited by many tourists because of the less effort required to reach them as well as the unique personality of the group.
Hirwa Gorilla Group
This is a relatively new group that was created when some individuals from Group 13 and the Sabyinyo family came together to form their own group. They are found on the slopes of Mount Sabyinyo led by a dominant and very protective silverback. The Hirwa name means “lucky one” because the group was lucky to have more individuals join them voluntarily. This unusual group formation was witnessed in 2006 and now has 16 members including twins. Locating this group can be difficult on certain days.
Kwitonda Gorilla Group
With 18 individuals that include two silverbacks, this is a difficult group to track. Led by Kwitonda “humble one in Kinyarwanda”, this group originated from Gorilla groups in Congo. They live around the slopes of Mount Muhabura but tend to move within a wide geographical area that makes tracking cumbersome but exciting