Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda

Mountain gorillas in Rwanda – Mountain gorillas’ social structure is arranged in families called gorilla groups. These groups are headed by a dominate silver back. Get to know the different mountain gorilla groups / families in Rwanda below as well as gorilla trekking Rules and the gorilla safari packing list.

Mountain Gorilla Groups / Families in Rwanda

Sabyinyo Group

Sabyinyo is one of the groups closest to the park’s edge with 8 individuals: 1 silverback, 3 adult females, 1 non adult female, 2 juveniles and 1 baby.
This name was got after the Sabyinyo volcano which means “old man’s teeth”.
This group contains, Guhonda, the largest silverback of all the groups, who is well known for his massive physical appearance. Guhonda has kept his main challenger, Ryango, out of his group as a lonely silverback.

13 Group

This group is named simply for its original size of 13 individuals when it was discovered, it has since maintained the name, with 21 individuals: 1 silverback, 10 adult females; 1 sub adult female; 1 juvenile and 8 babies.

Amahoro Group

This means a “peaceful group”, Amahoro, is the most peaceful of all the gorilla groups. The group has 17 individuals: 1 silverback, 2 black backs, 5 adult females; 2 sub adult males; 2 juveniles and 5 babies. However, peace comes at a price. Ubumwe, the group’s silverback is so peaceful and calm; he has lost group members to Charles in the Umubano group.

Umubano Group

Meaning “neighborliness”, Umubano has 9 individuals: 1 silverback; 1 sub adult male; 3 adult females and 4 babies. Led by Charles, the dominant silverback, Umubano was formerly a part of the Amahoro group. As Charles matured into a silverback of the same rank as Ubumwe, he could not stand being given orders and decided to stage a fight and challenge Ubumwe. The fight went on for weeks and then months. Finally, Charles managed to snatch from Ubumwe a few females and formed his own group. Since then, he has commanded respect and recognition from Ubumwe. We have observed, on various occasions, interactions between the two silverbacks, but no fighting has been seen since the great battle ended.

Susa Group

This group got its name from the Susa River within their home range. This is the largest gorilla group one can visit. The group has 38 individuals: 4 silverbacks, 4 black backs, 10 adult females, 3 sub adult females, 1 sub adult male, 1 non adult female, 2 juveniles and 13 babies. It is known for its surviving gorilla twins. Please note that when you reach this group, the first thing you note is that there are gorillas everywhere

Hirwa Group

Meaning “lucky one”, Hirwa has 9 individuals: 1 silverback, 3 adult females, 2 sub adult females and 3 babies. Hirwa came into the lime light on the 17th of June 2006 when trackers witnessed its formation. Two gorilla transfers from group 13 and Sabyinyo joined the then very small Hirwa group. As luck would have it, other gorillas joined them as well and created the group. Despite being the newest group on the block, Hirwa exhibits strength and holds its own amongst all the other established groups.

Kwitonda Group

This gorilla group has 10 individuals located on the Sabinyo volcano, sometimes in Democratic Republic of Congo and thus off-limits.

Mountain Gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda

These can be arranged by a travel operator, or can be purchased directly through the Office Rwandaise du Tourisme et des Parcs Nationaux (ORTPN) / The Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks, at the headquarters in Kigali, or at their office in Musanze. Currently the viewing permits cost $1500 per person, per day, and the cost is included in your safari cost.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking Rules

  • Obey the local guide instructions at all times, for the safety of the gorillas and visitors.
  • Do not touch the Gorillas – they are wild animals.
  • Do not remove anything from the park e.g., flowers, fruit, porcupine quills, and many more
  • If you are feeling ill, or are carrying a contagious disease, please volunteer to stay behind. An alternative
  • visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your viewing permit money.
  • No flash photography is allowed.
  • Do not eat or drink when close to the gorillas – this is a disease risk.
  • One hour is the maximum time supposed to be spent with the gorillas, however if the gorillas become
  • restless or tense the guide will finish the visit early.
  • Keep a minimum of 7 meters from the gorillas thus limiting them from being infected with diseases.
  • Do not spit in the park and go to the bathroom only as instructed by your guide.
  • Do not leave anything in the park, if you pack it in, pack it out!
  • Keep your voices down at all times.

Gorilla Safari Packing Lists:

1. 2 –3 pairs of light weight slacks/trousers – that can dry quickly (if wearing on treks)
2. 3 short sleeved t-shirts, 1 pair of shorts and 1-2 long sleeved shirts
3. 1 sweater or sweatshirt and strong waterproof walking boots/jacket
4. Hat-wide brim or with a visor for sun protection
5. Lightweight wool socks
6. Pair of sports sandals
7. Gloves – gardening or similar for gorilla trekking
8. Insect repellent, flashlight, binoculars, camera and extra lenses
9. Sunscreen glasses
10. Extra batteries – Some safari Lodges have facilities for recharging batteries
11. Personal toiletries

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[…] like wild celery have water content. Mountain gorillas rarely drink, likely because their food provides them enough […]

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