Gorilla trekking is the most captivating wildlife experience carried out in the Virunga massif that comprises of Rwanda’s Volcanoes, DR Congo’s Virunga and Uganda’s Bwindi national parks. Rwanda has 10 habituated gorilla groups tracked on a daily basis. Thus on each day 80 visitors are expected to go gorilla trekking. Below are the habituated gorilla groups in the Volcanoes national park.
1. Susa Group
With 33 members, including 2 Silverbacks, Susa group is the biggest in Volcanoes national park. The most exciting about this group are the twin siblings:Byishimo and Impano. This was Dian Fossey’s first group of study. It is an hours drive from Kinigi, the park headquarters. Despite the strenuous hike, it is the most preferred group by the hikers. In 2008 the group had internal conflict and thus split into another group of 15 members including 3 silverbacks. called Karisimbi
2. Sabyinyo Group
Family size: Sabinyo group comprises of 13 members including 2 Silverbacks, one of whom is the largest of all the silverbacks in the volcanoes national park.The group is easily accessible as it roams the gentle slopes between Mount Sabyinyo and Gahinga. Gorillas trekking might take anything from ten minutes to an hour to access, but ordinarily, the slopes are not too daunting (though can be slippery after rain).
3. Amahoro Group
The Amahoro group (peaceful)which lives on the slopes of Mt Visoke, comprises of 18 members including 2 Silverback. Accessing this group is very strenuous since trackers have to hike over a steep slope. Members of this group are the most peaceful and gentle.
4. Agashya Group
This was the Group 13 but recently changed the name to Agashya (meaning special). It is comprised of 27 members including 1 Silverback. It is the first group to be habituated. At the time of its habituation, it comprised of only 13 members. Presently it has grown to a size of 27 members. It lives alongside the Sabinyo group and sometimes moves deeper into the mountain.
5. Umubano (‘Live Together’) Group
with 13 members, including 2 Silverbacks, this group was formed by members of the Amahoro family after one of its silverbacks, Charles, broke off to form his own group. They live in the same territory the Amahoro Group.
6. Kwitonda Group
Inhabits the lower slopes of Mt Muhabura and comprises of 23 members, including 4 Silverbacks. It is named after the dominant Silverback of the group called Kwitonda (humble one). This group, too, poses a big challenge to trackers.
7. Hirwa Group
This is relatively a new group and comprises of 16 members, including 1 Silverback
It was formed from two different families – Group 13 and Sabyinyo. The group marauds the foothills of Mt Sabyinyo on the Gahinga side. Its two twins were born at the beginning of 2011.
8. Karisimbi Group
As the name suggests, Karisimbi family lives on Mt Karisimbi and comprises of 16 members including 2 Silverbacks. This group is a result of the split into 2 groups by Susa. The hike to this group is also very challenging.
9. Ugenda Group is made up of 11 members including 2 Silverbacks. Ugenda means mobile. This group inhabits Mt Bisoke and the hike is relatively not very difficult.
10. Bwenge Group
Comprises of 11 members including 1 Silverback. Bwenge means wisdom. This group roams around Mt Bisoke and the hike is also relatively easy.