Gorilla trekking Rwanda
Gorilla trekking Rwanda : Rwanda is one of the few countries offering the famous mountain gorilla trekking experience, Rwanda mostly referred to as the land of a thousand hills is one of the smallest countries in Africa located in east-central Africa. Rwanda as a nation is situated below the equator bordering Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the democratic republic of Congo.
Rwanda is an amazing tourist destination made up various tourist attractions enclosed in protected areas, among the most loved and unique attractions in Rwanda are the critically endangered mountain gorillas known for offering an extraordinary gorilla trekking experience through its numerous beautiful habituated gorilla families.
Mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda takes place in volcanoes national park, volcanoes national park is one Africa’s oldest national parks located in northern western region of Rwanda. This parks covers the area of 160 square kilometers stretching through the districts f burera, musanze, Rubavu and Nyabihu. Volcanoes national park is part of the great Virunga conservation area stretching over 5 volcanoes that is Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo, bordering Virunga national park of democratic republic of Congo and mgahinga gorilla national park of Rwanda. The 5 volcanoes in the park are covered by thick rain and alpine forest where mountain gorillas live on the high altitudes.
Mountain gorilla trekking Rwanda takes the tourist through the thick forest searching for the habituated mountain gorillas in their families, mountain gorillas in Rwanda which are open for trekking underwent through habituation process where they were trained to get comfortable with human presence. While trekking you will encounter approximately 480 mountain gorillas in the southern region of volcanoes national park in their groups/ families, in the park mountain gorillas are grouped into two that is for research purposes and for tourism purposes. Mountain gorillas for research are Beetsme and Pablo’s Shida’s, these are only accessed by scientists and researchers, mountain gorilla for tourism purposes are ten habituated groups which are open for trekking by tourists and include
- Susa gorilla group
Susa gorilla group deriving its name from river Susa is one of the oldest gorilla families in in volcanoes national park as it was researched by Dian Fossey, currently this family is the most challenge among the other families to trek as it live on the high altitudes of the forested volcanoes. Susa gorilla group is famous and loved for its two playful infant twins Byishimo and Impano birthed by Nyabitondore and poppy one of Rwanda’s first habituated gorillas born in 1976 which was part of the earlier gorilla groups researched by Dian Fossey. Initially Susa gorilla group was the biggest gorilla group in the park until some members broke away leaving the group with only 28 members with 3 silverback.
- Karisimbi gorilla group
Karisimbi gorilla group is sometimes referred to as Susa B since it is a break away from the Susa group, karisimbi gorilla group is always found at the slopes of mount karisimbi at the altitudes of 4507Meters. Trekking this group is a little challenging as the group moves up to the karisimbi caldera making the trekking only suitable for serious trekkers, karisimbi gorilla family consists of 11 members with 4 silverbacks, 1 black back, 2 infants and 1 adult female under the leader ship of Nyagakangaga a dominant silverback.
- Sabyinyo gorilla group
Sabyinyo gorilla group deriving its name from mount sabyinyo is one of the easiest gorilla families to trek in Rwanda, this family is found on the slopes of mount sabyinyo on the border of the park. This family previously known as Amavubi a Kinyarwanda word meaning wasps consists of 8 family members with 3 adult females, 1 youthful female, 1 infant, 2 juveniles and 1 silverback. The group is under the leadership of a giant silverback Guhonda, Guhonda is the largest silverback in Rwanda weighing approximately 220 kilograms, he is so powerful and brave which s witnessed by the fact that he has managed to keep away his stiff competitor Ryango from the group.
- Amahoro gorilla group
Amahoro gorilla group is the most calm gorilla family in Rwanda which closely rhymes with its name which is derived from a native Kinyarwanda word meaning peaceful. Amahoro gorilla family is also challenging to trek as you have to navigate through steep terrain but it is very rewarding as the group is very amazing to in be in company with. Amahoro group consists of 17 family individuals with 1 silverback, 2 black-backs, 5 adult females, 2 sub adult females, 2 juveniles and 5 babies under the leadership of a very peaceful dominant silverback Ubumwe.
Umubano gorilla group
Umubano gorilla group deriving its name from a native Kinyarwanda word meaning neighborliness is a breakaway group rom Amahoro family, the family broke away after the Charles the leader of the Umubano gorilla failed to submit to the new ruler after the death of the dominant silverback. Umubano gorilla group is consists of 13 members with 1 sub adult, 6 infants, 3 adult females and 1 silverback, the group is headed by Charles a very ambitious strong young silverback who has successfully maintain his group and also conquered females to his group.
- Agasha gorilla group
Agasha gorilla group is a family of 25 members with 1 Silverback, 12 Adult females, 2 two Sub adult female, 2three Juvenile and 7 Babies. This gorilla family derives its name from its current leader Agashya a dominant silverback who names means News in a native Kinyarwanda language. Dominant silverback Agashya is famous for his ultimate strength, he overpowered his opponent Nyakarima in a brutal fight taking away all his members from him. This was an extraordinary event in gorilla history as it also shocked Nyakarima himself, after taking all the group members Agashya shifted up to the volcano as a way of safe guarding his group from invasion of Nyakarima.
- Kwitonda gorilla group
Kwitonda gorilla group deriving its name from a Kinyarwanda word meaning humble one is a group of 18 members, this group is also one of the most challenging groups in Rwanda to trek as it stays on high altitudes of the volcano. This group consists of 18 members with 2 silverbacks under the leadership of Kwitonda a dominant silverback.
- Hirwa gorilla group
The name Hirwa means the lucky one in native Kinyarwanda, this group is one of the easiest families to trek with 13group members consisting of 1 Silverback, 3 Adult females; two Sub adult females and 3 Babies. Hirwa group is one of the new gorilla families in volcanoes national park and known to be one of the most wondering groups in Virunga conservation area, the family came into existence when a dominant silverback Munyinga decided to leave Susa family together with two females after his troubles of mating with every female. Hirwa family group consists of one births that is a set of twins.
- Bwenge gorilla group
Bwenge gorilla group is a new group established in 2007 usually found on the slopes of karisoke, this group was formed when Bwenge a dominant silverback left his birth group with other females to form his own group. Trekking this group is challenging as the trails which lead to it are muddy and pretty steep, the group is a famous group as it featured in the legendary movie of “gorillas in the mist”. Bwenge group is a group of 11 individuals and becoming very strong as it has witnessed two successful births in the recent couple of years.
- Ugenda gorilla group
Ugenda gorilla group is a group of 11 individuals with 2 silverbacks living on the slopes of karisimbi volcano, this group is known for always being on a move which makes trekking it very challenging
Mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda is only open to tourists who poses a mountain gorilla trekking permit which costs US$ 1500 per permit per person , the permit allows a tourist to trek one gorilla family for one hour. For tourists interested in behind the scenes gorilla safari experience the permit costs US$ 15,000, for professional photography and filming a permit costs US$ 5000 for 3 days consecutively. For a large crew of 8 people, the permit costs US $ 12,000.