Volcanoes national park in Rwanda is home to the highest mountain gorilla population of the Virunga massif region with 10 habituated gorilla groups ready for gorilla trekking. A group of 8 people each day is allowed to go watch a given gorilla group for only one hour after meeting your group, which means 80 gorilla permits are issued every day.
With the raising numbers of visitors flocking Rwanda to trek with gorillas, its become necessary to book your gorilla permit 3 months prior to your tracking dates to avoid disappointments
Below are habituated gorilla families in Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park, which can be visited.
Amahoro Group – the most peaceful
Amahoro family is the most harmonious group as its name means in Kinyarwanda – Peaceful, residing the slops of mountain Bisoke. The gorilla family comprises of 17 members with 2 dominant silverback gorillas, 5 young one, 5 female and 4 juveniles. Trekking the Amahoro group is a tough hike, as it requires you to hike up the Bisoke Volcanoes to locate your gorilla group.
The Agasha group initiated with 13 member habituated gorillas, it was named Group 13, with the dominant silverback called Nyakarima who was later overpowered by Agasha who took up the leadership of this group. Because of his ambitious leadership, Agasha managed to expand the group from the initial 13 individuals to 25 members.
This family occupies the Sabyinyo Mountains and some times the family ventures deep inside the forest, which makes the trek to visit the Agasha group tough
Bwenge Gorilla – Wisdom
Dominant silverback “Bwenge” formed this gorilla family where it derives its name. This group comprises of 11 gorillas members and had suffered a very great loss of the death of 6 young mountain gorillas. This group occupies the Karisoke volcano area. Trekking with this gorilla group is a challenge, as it requires hiking uphill to find the gorillas. Best time to visit this group is the dry season.
Hirwa Gorilla – Lucky one
Gorilla family comprising of a mixture of gorillas from neighboring gorilla families of Sabyinyo group and Agasha group. This group was formed as early as 2006 and several other gorillas joined the group and today this family has 9 individuals. The name Hirwa in Kinyarwanda means “lucky one” because this group was formed by luck
Kwitonda Group – Humble
Lead by Kwitonda a dominant silverback, this group migrated from the Democratic republic of Congo and comprises of 18 gorilla individuals. This group is occupying the lower slopes of Mt. Muhabura and constantly moves uphill, hence trekking this family is strenuous and requires you to be physically fit and ready to hike for a long time as the group constantly moves.
This is the nearest gorilla family located along the gentle slopes of mount Sabyinyo volcanoes, which is shared between Rwanda and Uganda. This group comprises of 8 mountain individuals with the dominant silverback Guhonda who has managed to keep the leadership of the group and managed to keep its major challenger out of the group
Susa A Group
Tourists looking for a challenge trek this group. With originally the highest number of mountain gorillas – 42 individuals, the Susa family was the one studied by Diana Fossey during her time in Rwanda from 1967 to 1985. As the family had become too large, it later split into 2 to form Susa B, remaining with 28 individuals.
The Susa A group is the oldest habituated gorilla family which gained popularity because of its intriguing twins Impano & Byishimo . The group gets its name from River Susa that drains through their home range
Susa B / Karisimbi Group
Also called the Karisimbi Group, this family split from Susa A, and comprises of 15 mountain gorilla members.
The group can be found along the upper slopes of mount Karisimbi and a hike to see this group is tough and strenuous, as it requires hiking uphill at high altitudes 4507 m.
Ugenda Family – On the move
This family is situated along the Karisimbi mountain area and its name “Ugenda” is derived from this roaming behavior. Ugenda means “on a move”. The group comprises of 11 gorilla members and trekking this group is tough as it’s located along the Karisimbi Volcanoes.
Umubano group is led by dominant silverback Charles who broke away from the headship of Ubumwe – the dominant silverback of Amahoro group forming th Umubano family. This group comprises of 11 members with 1 head silverback gorilla, 3 females, 6 juveniles and some infants.