The popular gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda are done within the Volcanoes national park. Gorilla trekking is done for habituated (been tamed to behave normally in the presence of people) gorilla families. There is a total of 10 habituated gorilla families in Rwanda open to gorilla safari Rwanda tourists. A total of eight (8) tourists are allowed to trek a gorilla family per day.
Gorilla families in Rwanda
Amahoro Gorilla Family
This is the most peaceful gorilla family in Rwanda with 18 members led by silverback Ubumwe. The name Amahoro originates from a Kinyarwanda word that means serenity. This family is indeed known for its peacefulness and friendliness living to the expectations of its name though it has led to lose of some members to another group called Umubano. Trekking these gorillas is tasking since one has to hike Mt. Bisoke where the group established their home.
Umubano Gorilla Family
The Umubano gorilla family is a split from the Amahoro gorilla family. The family broke away because of constant battles between Charles and Ubumwe the two head silver backs. At the time of the split, Charles broke away with 13 members forming the Umubano family which means living together.
Susa A Gorilla Family
Susa A gorilla family was previously part of the Susa family that had 42 members before the split and was the most popular group. Susa A gorilla family was formed in 2008 after the split and it remained with 33 members with two silverbacks. The gorilla family lives in the lower slopes of Mt. Karisimbi popular for its playful twins Byishimo and Impano. This was the group thoroughly studied by Dian Fossey during her time in Rwanda from 1967 to 1985.
Susa B (Karisimbi) gorilla family
This is the other part of the gorillas that split from the Susa family. The group has 16 members including 2 silver backs. The group inhabits the upper slopes of Mt. Karisimbi at an altitude of 4,507m offering a trying moment for those on Rwanda gorilla trekking safari tours to trek them. This group is suitable for tourists who are interested in serious hiking.
Kwitonda Gorilla Family
Since Virunga national park is within the Virunga massif that is trans boundary, Kwitonda gorilla family migrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its named after its dominant silver back called Kwitonda meaning the ‘Humble one’. This group has 23 members and lives in the lower slopes of Mt. Muhabura and its movement is un predictable.
Ugenda Gorilla Family
Ugenda is a Kinyarwanda word that means on the move or mobile. Ugenda gorilla family has 11 members with two silverback gorillas. The group attained its named because its random movement behavior which makes it one difficult group to track on a Rwanda gorilla safari.
Bwenge Gorilla Family
The Bwenge gorilla family has 11 members led by silverback Bwenge. The group was formed in 2007 when silverback Bwenge left his group and was later joined by females from other groups. Bwenge group occupies the slopes of Karisoke volcano between Karisimbi and Bisoke mountains. Bwenge is a Kinyarwanda word which meaning Wisdom and from its name, it’s no wonder that this gorilla group featured in the Movie titled Gorillas in the Mist.
Sabyinyo Gorilla Family
This gorilla family is popular for its giant silverback known as Guhonda weighing about 220kg. It’s the nearest and easiest gorilla family and to track on a gorilla trekking Rwanda safari. It inhabits the gentle slopes between Mt. Sabyinyo and Mt. Gahinga. The group has 13 members including one silver back after another was exiled from the group. s
Agashya (Group 13) Gorilla Family
This group is named after the initial family number that was 13 at the time of habituation. The group was initially led by a silverback called Nyakarima but was later over thrown by Agashya whose name means news which is now the leader and the family was named after him. The family as of now has 27 members.
Hirwa Gorilla Family.
This gorilla family has 16 members with its name originating from its formation process which was out of luck, it therefore means the lucky one. This family was formed in 2006 by some members of Sabyinyo group and others from 13 group (Agashya). Hirwa group inhabits the foothills of Mt. Sabyinyo to the side of Mt Gahinga.
Titus Gorilla Family.
The family is named after the Silver back Titus which was born during the days of Dian Fossey’ research at Karisoke. Titus the young gorilla lost his family to poachers including his father, uncle, brother, mother and sister. Titus was later raised by another family and considered one of the successful gorillas in history. This group is meant for research but open to tourists when other groups are fully booked.
Since you know each gorilla family beware of the gorilla family characteristic before you go for a Rwanda safari.