The volcanoes of Rwanda located in its north, is the only place where mountains gorillas can be trekked in the country. The gorillas are trekked in there groups and in Rwanda the groups are divided into two; the ones used for research purposed are only accessed by researchers/ scientists and they have the largest members of the family and they are beetsme and Pablo’s shida’s.
The second groups are the habituated groups for tourism. These are 10 groups and are visited by a maximum of 8 persons at a maximum of one hour meaning that 80 visitors can possibly trek each day to the mountain gorilla in volcanoes national park.
Before your gorilla trek, you will be assigned to a gorilla group that fits your level of fitness and these are the gorilla groups;
1. Susa group. This was the largest group before its split with over 40 members and was the group studied by dian Fossey, headed by kurira which means crying. The name Susa is derived from the Susa River along their home area. It’s the hardest group to trek as they range high into the mountains at the lower slopes of mountain Karisimbi it has a family of 28 individuals with 2 silver backs. The group is famous of the young twins named byishimo and impano and it also has the oldest habituated gorilla called poppy born in 1976.
2. Karisimbi family [Susa B]. This has 16 individual including two silver backs and is the group that split from Susa in 2008 that’s why it’s at times called Susa B family. they stay high at the picks of Karisimbi volcanoes which takes a full day trekking. The trekker should be fit and health to enjoy this trek.
3. Sabinyo gorilla group. This is the easiest group to access they are usually at the edge of the park. The group is led by guhonda the biggest, massive and strongest silver back gorilla of all having 220 kg. It has 8 members with 2 silvers backs. The name was given after Sabyinyo volcanoes meaning old teeth. They are mostly found in the gentle foothills of mountain Sabyinyo and mountain Gahinga.
4. Amahoro gorilla group. The trekking of this group endures a fairly steep climb. This group is led by the ubumwe having 17 individual with 1 silver back, 2 black backs, 5 adult females, 2 sub adult males, 2 juveniles and 5 babies. Its name is derived from the peaceful and congeniality character. they are often found roaming at the slopes of mountain Visoke and their trek is medium difficulty
5. Group 13. These are also known as aka Agasha group. The name is derived from its first 13 habituated members but gradually increased to 27 members being led by agasha meaning the news with 1 silver back, 2 adult females, and 2 sub adults’ females, 3 juvenile and 7 babies. Can be found in the same are as Sabinyo groups.
6. Umubano group. These broke off from Amahoro after a fight between ubumwe and Charles who is there leader. Charles stole a few females and formed his own group. They are now 11 with 2 silver back, 1 sub adult male, 3 adult female, 3 adult female and 6 babies. Their name means living together and is always found in the same area as the Amahoro.
7. Kwitonda family. This is led by Kwitonda meaning humble and has 18 members with 4 silver back and one black back. These migrated from DRC and range far making there trekking moderately difficult like the Susa they are found on the slopes of mountain Muhabura.
8. Hirwa group. The group emerged from two different existing families of group 13 and Sabinyo forming there own in 2006. They are led by munyinya and has 9 individuals 1 silver back,3 adult females, 2 sub adult females and 3 babies. They are usually found at the foot hill of mountain Sabyinyo on the Gahinga side. Hirwa means lucky one. This group also had twins born to them at the beginning of 2011.
9. Bwenge family. It’s a new group formed in 2007. The name Bwenge means brightness or wisdom and the group is led by Bwenge who left his former group and was joined by other females from other groups. It has 11 individuals mostly found at the slopes of the Karisoke / Bisoke volcanoes and its trekking is moderately difficult. This group faced some difficulties of losing 6 of its infants. This is also the group whose members where featured in the movie gorilla in the mist.
10. Ugenda family. This family has 11 members with 2 silver backs and it’s led by ugenda. Its name means mobile / departure because it was always moving from one area to another. This group is found around mountain Bisoke and there hike is both easy and moderately difficult that’s they are not difficult to hike but many times they keep on moving from one place to another.
Although there are some difficulties in the trekking, guides always have to trace where these families are a day before the trekking and porter to carry luggage’s if the trek you are taking is relatively difficult involving long hours of trekking at a small fee.