Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Families. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is located in South-western Uganda, covering parts of Rukungiri, Kisoro, and Kabale Districts. It is situated in mountainous countryside, which, together with some remnant lowland forest outside the boundary, constitutes an important water catchments area for many rivers, supplying the agricultural land of the surrounding region. This is the richest forest in Uganda, in terms of the number of plant species, as the area is one of the few large expanses of forest in East Africa where lowland and montane communities merge.
The valley bottoms contain a dense ground cover of herbs, vines, and shrubs with only a few trees hence its name, the impenetrable forest. This is one of the richest faunal communities in East Africa. There exists about one-half of the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas. There are also several endangered species of birds with limited ranges. Gorilla tracking in Uganda began on 1st April 1993 in the Buhoma sector northern side of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. It is advisable to make reservations at least 3-6 months before your intended date of visit.
Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Families. There are 4 locations for tracking gorillas in Bwindi these are Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. The 4 locations have a total of about 18 families as of December 2018. Tracking permits need to be bought prior to tracking by booking directly with the reservations office at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Headquarters or through a reputable tour agent. Permits can be paid for up to two years in advance.
Located in the northern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Buhoma sector was the first sector to be habituated in 1993 just after the park was declared a UNESCO Heritage. Buhoma is the most famous and most visited part of the park, with the oldest Gorilla family Mubare and three other families of Habinyanja, Rushegura and Katwe Gorilla families.
About the families in the Buhoma sector
Mubare Gorilla Family
This is the oldest gorilla group in Bwindi and was habituated in 1993 when tourism had just been introduced to Bwindi. The name Mubare was derived from the famous Mubare Hills where the team of trackers first sited the group. After the habituation, the group was made up of 12 members, headed by Ruhondeza and over the years with raids and misfortune, the group was reduced to only 5 members. After the death of Ruhondeza who died at over 50 years and with now new leadership from another silverback Kanyonyi, the group has managed to regrow and currently has 9 members.
Habinyanja Gorilla Family
The group was habituated in 1997 and started tracking in 1999. The group is also found in Buhoma sector. The name habinyanja was derived from a Rukiga word “Nyanja” which means a water place. This was because the group as first sighted nearby a swamp pond in Bwindi by then the head of the group was Mugurusi and after his head was succeeded by two brothers Mwirima and Rwansigazi. Rwansigazi loved to travel while Mwirima loved to stay in one place. Later Rwasigazi formed the group Rushegura. The head of this family is the Silverback Makara and is comprised of now 17 members with 9 Adults, 5 infants and 3 juveniles. This group is one of the easiest to track and to reach it is a 45 minutes’ drive from the starting point, and you head out to the trail at Nyamishaba village.
Rushegura Gorilla Family.
This group split away from Habinyanja gorilla family and was opened up for tracking in 2002. This breakaway was led by Mwirima who was a strong silverback and wanted to form his group after many years of power struggle with his brother Rwansigazi, by the time Mwirima left he took with him, 7 members. Later he died, and now the group is under the leadership of a black back. The group has managed to increase its member to 19 members from the original 8 members. This group keeps moving between Uganda and DR Congo as it lives on the border edge and keeps crossing over many times. This is another easy group to track with tourists starting there trek from the park headquarters and walk just 15 munites to get to the trail in Mukono.
Katwe Gorilla Group.
This is the newest group in Buhoma sector, and this group took up to 3 years to be fully habituated and ready for visitor tracking. The group has one dominate silverback, four females and two babies. It’s not exactly know how many members this group has as other members keep moving in and out of the group. This group was founded in 2018, and this was done in a bid to increase the number of Gorilla permits available per day hence increase the revenue of the country as well.
Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Families. Located in the Eastern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the sector is home of Gorilla families Bitukura and Oruzogo family and all are available for tracking.the sector has another group called Kyaguriro family for research use. The region stands at an elevation of over 2350 meters above sea level making it the coldest area in Bwindi. The region offers excellent hiking opportunities and has charming trails for those interested in nature walks like the Rwamunyonyi peak. Other primates in Ruhija include monkeys, and mammals include elephants and antelopes.
About Gorilla Families in Ruhija sector
Bitukura Gorilla Family.
The family is located in Ruhija which is on the Eastern side of Bwindi, and the group was named after a river in the park because the group was first sighted near the river hence the name. Habituation of the group started in 2007, and the group was later opened up for tracking in October 2008. The rangers had been encountering the group previously during there habituation of the Kyaguriro group, and they were never hostile, and this made it easy for them to habituate the gorillas. They became accustomed to human company faster than other gorilla groups. This group is very peaceful and with little politics as compared to other gorilla families that are characterized with such. The group was made up of 24 members, but due to deaths and flights some members split up, the group is now made up of 14 members with 4 silverbacks, 4 adult females, 3 juveniles and 1 infant. The group is under the leadership of Ndahura know to be a peaceful leader.
The family was first opened for tracking in 2011, and after habituation, the group had 25 members with two silverbacks. At the moment the group comprises of 17 members with one silverback Tibirikwata the head of the family, 2 black backs, 7 females, 2 young adults and 5 infants. In the region, it has the highest number of members and it derives its name from a particular plant in the region near its home where it was first spotted. The group became famous in 2013 when its member gave birth to a set of twins a female by name Kankonda and this group is very playful making it a joy to watch to those visiting for Gorilla tracking.
Kyaruguriro Gorilla Family.
The group was habituated in 1999 and was set aside as a research group for those interested in research and habituation. The group was made up of 20 members with Rukina as the head silverback who later died after being struck by lightning. The group was left in the leadership of the immature mukiza in 2016, then fights erupted between Mukiza and Rukara which split the group into two Kyaguriro A and Kyaguriro B with A having 10 members and B having had 10 as well and also known as Mukiza Gorilla Family.