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  • Evelyn Nakazi

Rwanda Gorilla Groups

Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park is the only park in Rwanda where mountain gorilla trekking is conducted each day. It comprises 10 habituated groups where the usual treks are done and they include;

Susa group (The Susa A group)

This is a group that Dian Fossey carried out her research prior to her mysterious death in 1985. It consisted of over 41 individuals of mountain gorillas at a time which made it the largest group with members however, due to fights and splitting, it reduced to 28 individuals with 3 silverbacks. Remarkably, poppy also originated from this troop. He was born in 1976 making him the oldest in the park. This gorilla family is also famous as one of those most challenging troops to track and is ideal for adventure enthusiasts. It was named after River Susa that runs through it. The Susa group is also famous for its twin gorillas of Byishimo and Impano.

Amahoro family

If you are looking for peaceful families to track in Volcanoes National Park then the Amahoro family is the best choice. It consists of 18 members including 2 silverbacks. The group mainly thrives around the Karisimbi Mountain slopes and hiking through it requires some physical fitness but it rewards visitors with amazing adventures. Amahoro group is led by Ubumwe silverback.

Karisimbi family

This is a splinter group from the Susa A group which established itself around 2008. It is known as the Susa B family and comprises 16 individuals including 3 silverbacks. It mainly lies around the Karisimbi Volcano (4507 meters) and you have to be physically well if you are to track this troop while on safari in Volcanoes National Park.

Sabyinyo family

This group is headed by the massive and strongest Guhonda silverback. In 2014, it had only 8 members compared to today where there are 13 in number including 2silverbacks and 3 adult females and others are mainly juveniles. This troop is located at the base of Sabyinyo Volcano and Mount Gahinga. It can be visited easily.

Umubano group

This group denotes togetherness. It is a splinter group from the Amahoro family. It detached itself at the time of Ubumwe the dominant silverback. Currently, it features 13 individuals including 2 silverbacks and it is led by Charles.

Kwitonda Gorilla family

This is known to have migrated from DR Congo and its members at times live further thus requiring some physical wellness among trekkers. It also means the humble one and it is led by the main silverback, consisting of 23 including the 4 silverbacks and they usually roam around Muhabura Volcano foothills.

Agashya group

This is best known as a special group as its name suggests and visitors on gorilla trekking at this park can have special moments with its members. Formerly, it had 13 individuals at a time of habituation which gave it the name ‘Group 13.’ However, currently, it is made of 27 individuals including 1 silverback that succeeded Nyakarima. The word Agasha also denotes news and this group thrives mainly at the base of Sabyinyo and Gahinga volcano. Tracking this troop demands medium effort.

Bwenge group

This denotes wisdom and it is a group with 11 individuals. It can be trekked from around the Karisoke Mountain slopes. It opened for tourism in 2007 and was led by Bwenge. This family lost about six individuals and this impacted a lot on its development as a group although these days, there has been some stability.

Hirwa Gorilla family

Hirwa group came into existence in 2006 and its name denotes lucky one. It split from Agashya and the Sabyinyo troop. It consists of 16 individuals and recently welcomed twin gorillas. For some of you who would like to trek through this group, you can combine it with adventures at the base of the Gahinga Volcanoes and Sabyinyo.

Ugenda group

This means mobile given its behavior of moving from one place to another. The troop consists of 11 individuals and it is roaming around Bisoke Mountain. Tracking this family may not require a lot of energy as is the case with the Susa groups.

Lastly, each group features distinct traits and history which reward you with unique experiences. To have the most enjoyable and memorable adventure, track at least one or two groups and compare the experiences.

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