THE BEST 21 GORILLA FAMILIES IN BWINDI & MGAHINGA PARK FOR TREKKING IN UGANDA
Which Gorilla Families Can Be Seen In Uganda?The forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has 20 gorilla families that are available for visitors vacationing in Uganda to meet. There is only 1 family that thrives in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, just to the south near the Rwanda border of the Virunga Mountains. Below is some information about the families you may be able to see in the locales where they live.
- According to scientists and researchers, as on February 2020, 21 habituated gorilla families live in Uganda
- 20 mountain gorilla families living within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in 4 different areas
- Only 1 family living in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park that lies on the Virunga Mountains, south of Bwindi
A. Gorilla Families In The Buhoma Sector - BwindiShould you choose to go on a gorilla adventure holiday in the Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you’ll learn that there are five groups that you might encounter: the Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, Katwe and Binyido families. Most people who would prefer a shorter and less strenuous trek while touring Bwindi choose this area, since most of the gorilla families are closer and more readily tracked.
1. Mubare Gorilla Family (6 Members)
- The first family targeted for the habituation process in 1991
- Originally lead by the silverback Ruhondeza followed by Kanyonyi, now headed by Maraya
- Known for infanticide with the dominant silverback killing off the infants when taking over the family
2. Habinyanja Gorilla Family (16 Members)
- Typically found wandering the Nyamishamba ridges lead by the alpha silverback, Makara
- Known for being particularly adventurous and roaming over a vast area
- Habituation process started in 1996
3. Rushegura Gorilla Family (15 Members)
- Takes its name from Ebishegura, a species of trees commonly found in the family’s favorite wandering grounds
- Known to go exploring the properties around lodges and community gardens
- Group first formed in February 2002
4. Katwe Gorilla Family (7 Members)
- Named after the hillside location where their habituation was first initiated in January 2018
- Formed by some of the members breaking away from the Mubare group after the death of Kanyonyi
- Comprises of a total of 7 members including 2 adults females and 2 sub-adults
5. Binyido Gorilla Family (6 Members)
- Group studied for 3 years before it was added to the list of gorilla families in the park
- Comprises of a total of 5 additional members and 1 dominant silverback
- Open for visits from tourists wishing to spend time with gorillas in their natural habitat
B. Gorilla Families In The Rushaga Sector - Bwindi
6. Shongi Gorilla Family (8 Members)
- Habituation process in progress since 2006
- Split into two distinct groups, Mishaya and Bweza in 2013
- Dispersal of Mishaya group after 2014 after which members joined Bikingi and Bweza families
7. Kahungye Gorilla Family (19 Members)
- Headed by the silverback, Ruziika
- Habituation process started in 2008 when the family comprised of 29 members
- Splintered in 2012 when the Busingye group broke away
8. Bweza Gorilla Family (11 Members)
- Headed by the silverback, Kakono
- Prefers to remain in locations closer to human communities
- Often sighted by vacationers on village walks or around accommodations
9. Busingye Gorilla Family (12 Members)
- Roaming the slopes of the Rushaga sector preferring more remote locations
- Originally part of the Kahungye group which began habituation in 2008
- Breakaway group currently headed by the alpha male, Busingye
10. Bikingi Gorilla Family (14 Members)
- Habituation process started in the year 2012 and still under progress
- Headed by the silverback, Bikingi
- Now includes several members of the Mishaya group and non-habituated individuals
11. Mishaya Gorilla Family (10 Members)
- Comprises mainly of members who have broken away from the Shongi group at different times
- Originally formed by the silverback Mishaya who died in February 2014 after an intestinal blockage
- Some of the remaining members joined the Bweza and Bikingi groups because of the absence of a strong leader
In May 2018, scientists uncovered that they were now a part of the group led by Tinfayo. The silverback had also been a member of the Shongi group until 2012 when he split away along with a female, Shida, and her infant, Rotary. At present, Tinfayo is the leader of the Mishaya group that also has 1 blackback, 4 mature females, 1 sub-adult female, and 3 infants. Primate researchers in Uganda have been closely following the movements of the group and its behavior.
12. Kutu Gorilla Family (8 Members)
- Originally designated by researchers for visitors desiring to understand how the habituation process is carried out
- Now open for visits from wildlife enthusiasts undertaking the gorilla tracking experience
- The family comprises of a total of 8 members including 1 dominant silverback who leads the group
13. Mucunguzi Gorilla Family (8 Members)
- Group named Mucunguzi after the dominant silverback who leads the family
- Formerly Mucunguzi was a part of the Bweza group and later ousted
- Mucunguzi formed a new family after fighting the head of the Bikingi group and taking away some of the females
C. Gorilla Families In The Ruhija Sector - Bwindi
14. Bitukura Gorilla Family (11 Members)
- An unusual group with the adult males being extremely tolerant of each other
- Headed by the silverback, Mugisha who took over leadership in 2016
- Often spotted roaming the locations close to the forest boundaries at Ruhija
15. Oruzogo Gorilla Family (17 Members)
- Unique family because of its unusual preference for the Alchornea hitela plant, also called Oruzogo
- Habituation process underway since 2008
- Headed by the alpha silverback, Bakwate
16. Kyaguliro Gorilla Family (8 Members)
- Under habituation since the year 1995 and studied by the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Evolutionary Anthropology
- Split into two groups in 2016, Kyaguliro A (Rukara) and Kyaguliro B (Mukiza)
- Rukawa family preferring the denser regions of the forest and rarely spotted on the peripheries
The next silverback to take over leadership was Mukiza, who was still quite inexperienced. After an ambush by silverback Rukara from the Bitukura group, the family split into two subgroups: the Kyaguliro A (Rukara) and Kyaguliro B (Mukiza). Since the break, which happened in May 2016, the Kyaguliro family wanders in the denser forest regions and seems to avoid the edges of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. As you will find on your gorilla trekking forest trip in Uganda, the 8 member family now comprises 1 silverback, 2 blackbacks, 2 adult females, 2 sub-adults, and 1 infant.
17. Mukiza Gorilla Family (13 Members)
- A split-off group formed from the Kyaguliro family in 2016
- Also studied by the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Evolutionary Anthropology
- Headed by the silverback Mukiza
D. Gorilla Families In The Nkuringo Sector - Bwindi
18. Nkuringo Gorilla Family (15 Members)
- Headed by the silverback, Rafiki and under habituation since 1997
- First mountain gorilla family, which was habituated in the Nkuringo sector
- Often spotted roaming the outlying zones of the forest because of which humans were moved into the buffer zone of the park
On your tour, you will learn that this family has the distinction of having the first recorded twin birth in the reserve, noted in December 2004. They are often seen foraging for food in the outlying zones of the park, close to 98% of the time. For this reason, authorities moved local human inhabitants in the buffer zone of Bwindi further away, to minimize their contact with the gorilla families and the possibility of transmitting human diseases to these rare primates. These steps were taken after the Nkuringo family contracted scabies.
19. Bushaho Gorilla Family (12 Members)
- Originally part of the Nkuringo family
- Headed by Bahati since 2012
- Named for the Bushaho region where they are often spotted foraging for food
20. Christmas Gorilla Family (9 Members)
- Third gorilla family in the Nkuringo sector to open for tourism visits
- Headed by a dominant silverback named Christmas
- Has a total of 9 members including 1 blackback, 3 females, and 1 infant
E. Gorilla Families In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
21. Nyakagezi Gorilla Family (8 Members)
- Only habituated gorilla family to live in the park, the habituation process started in 1991 and ended in 1994
- Known for their very adventurous nature and previously tracked across Virunga Mountain in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda.
- Unusual family with several males living together peacefully
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GUIDE ON BWINDI PARK
Standing on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley at a UNESCO World Heritage site, Bwindi is known for the amazing biodiversity. The highlight of your safari in Bwindi Park is undoubtedly the gorilla-viewing experience.
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WHERE & BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BWINDI
Bwindi has varied accommodations, from the forest luxuries of Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge and Bwindi Lodge. The deluxe options are Buhoma Lodge and Mahogany Springs.
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SAFARI & TOUR IN BWINDI
The primary activity at Bwindi Park is gorilla trekking including the habituation experience. Other tours are birdwatching excursions, forest waterfall hikes, Buhoma mountain biking, Batwa cultural encounters etc.
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BEST TIME TO VISIT BWINDI
Given that the main focus of your safari in Uganda is likely to be the mountain gorillas, the best time to visit Bwindi is in the long dry season, which begins in June and continues through July and August.
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EAST AFRICA SAFARI BOOKING TRIP IDEA FOR BWINDI IN UGANDA
When visiting Bwindi Park for your gorilla safari trek, we recommend combining it with Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, and Kibale (chimpanzee safari) alongside your city tour visits of Kampala and Entebbe.
You may optionally extend out to other wilderness areas such as Mgahinga to track down golden monkeys and gorillas in the same park, Jinja for whitewater rafting on the Nile River, and Semliki, Lake Mburo or Kidepo for an offbeat wildlife tour.
You can end your vacation on the beach at Lake Victoria or even extending out to the exotic spice island of Zanzibar or Lamu, or even Mombasa.
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