Rwanda is located in central eastern Africa and it’s also well known as the country of a thousand hills, the country is home to the endangered mountain gorillas together with Uganda and Congo. Gorillas in Rwanda can only be found in Volcanoes national park.
Volcanoes national park is not only home to mountain gorillas but to five of the 8 Virunga volcanoes, with the highest being mount Karasimbi at an elevation of 4,507 meters above sea level alongside the other four mountains that is mount Sabinyo, Mount Muhabura, mount Gahinga, and Bisoke.
Rwanda offers luxury gorilla trekking as a permit goes for $1500 compared to Uganda and Congo where a gorilla permit costs $600 and $400 respectively. Gorilla permits in Rwanda should be bought in advance like 3 months before the actual day of trekking because they are on high demands.
Permits in Rwanda can be obtained through a trusted travel agency or from the Rwanda development board. 50% of the gorilla trekking fee will be refunded to tourists in case they show any sign of illness, this is because gorillas can easily get infected by humans and this is very dangerous.
While trekking mountain gorillas, all the people intending to trek on that particular day will be required to report to Kinigi park headquarters by 7:00 am early morning. Only persons of 15 years of age and above will be allowed to trek mountain gorillas. After obtaining a gorilla permit, below are some of the gorilla families that you can trek in Rwanda:
Ugenda gorilla family
The Ugenda gorilla family is located around the mountain slopes of mount Bisoke; the name is derived from a local word to mean “departure” the name was given to the group because they always move up and down making it hard to trek. The family is made up of 11 members with two silverbacks.
Susa gorilla family
Susa gorilla family is the group that the famous primatologist Dian Fossey used for her study until her death in 1985, the group is made up of 28memebers and one of the members in the group is said to have been born during the time Dian Fossy was alive.
Sabyinyo gorilla family
Sabyinyo gorilla family is led by the dominating silverback Guhonda, the group is one of the groups in Volcanoes national park that can easily be trekked in the mountain slopes of mount Sabinyo and Gahinga.
Karisimbi gorilla family
The Karisimbi gorilla family used to be part of the largest gorilla family Susa group before they split to form to the Karasimbi gorilla family, the family is also among the hardest to trek as they can sometimes move to higher elevations of mount Karasimbi.
Agashya gorilla family
Agashya gorilla family also known as group 13 used to contain 13 members during habituation though it grew to 25members now. The group can be trekked from the slopes of mount Gahinga and mount Sabinyo.
Amahoro gorilla family
Amahoro gorilla family derives its name from a local word to mean “peaceful” the group inhabits the regions of Mount Bisoke. The group is made up of 17 individuals with one silverback Ubumwe who has lost most of his members to Charles of the Umubano gorilla family because of his calmness.
Kwitonda gorilla family
Kwitonda gorilla family is comprised of 17 members found around mount Muhabura, the name of the group means “humble one” this group migrated from Congo so they are always on the move making it one of the gorilla groups to trek.
Umubano gorilla family
Umubano gorilla group split off from the Amahoro gorilla family to form their own family led by Ubumwe silverback, the gorilla family is not very far from Amahoro gorilla family and is composed of 11 members.
Bwenge gorilla family
The name Bwenge is derived from a local word to mean “wisdom”. The family can be trekked on the slopes of Mount Karisimbi and Bisoke the group was opened for trekking in 2007 with Bwenge being the dominant silverback.
Hirwa gorilla family
Hirwa gorilla family is a mixture of Sabinyo gorilla family and Agashya gorilla family. This is one of the gorilla groups blessed with twins in Volcanoes national park and they can be trekked from mount Gahinga and mount Sabinyo slopes.
The best time to trek gorillas in Rwanda is during the dry seasons of June to September and December to February. If your trekking in the rain season, you should endeavor to carry good hiking boots, raincoat, warm clothing, garden gloves, energy snacks and so much more. Tourists can hire porters to help them carry backpacks at a very cheap price.