Gorilla Trekking Information

Gorilla Trekking Information

Uganda boosts of over half the world’s Gorilla population with approximately 400 individuals. Famous for mountain Gorillas found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National park located in the South-Western Part of the country.

Gorilla trekking take place in Four major sectors of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest; Buhoma sector with 4 Habituated Gorilla families, Ruhijja sector with 4 Habituated gorilla Families, Nkuringo Sector with 3 habituated Family and Rushaga Sector with 6 Habituated Gorilla Families and Mgahinga park with 1 habituated gorilla family. This brings habituated gorilla families to a total of 18 which can be visited by 8 tourists each family per day.

To find out more about gorilla families, please check the gorilla families’ page;

Gorilla trekking starts in the morning with a briefing of visitor at the park headquarters before driving to the gorilla trekking starting point with your ranger, trekking starts by 8 am. You will walk in the dense forest searching for the gorillas and the trek can last from a few hours to as more as a whole day depending on where they built their nests last night and how far they would have moved to search for food. Once you find these close relatives of ours, you are allowed 1hour interaction due to conservations purposed. Coming face-to-face with a mountain gorilla is a life experience exiting that will always have a fresh memory on your mind.

What to Pack?

Gorilla trekking is an exciting adventure and a lifetime experience, by its nature and the location where it happens, there is more or less that you may need depending on your preferences. “So pack for a purpose” you can pack all you need in a small backpack

  • Long Sleeved Shirt made of materials that dry quickly or the wick-away moisture type of clothes. (the long sleeves protect you from tree branches, sun and insects)
  • A fleece or light wool sweater mornings can be cool and the evenings can get quite chilly in Bwindi.
  • A thin rain layer or a cheap poncho just in case is starts to rain while on the trek
  • Long pants preferably made of a synthetic material, long pants will help with the stinging nettle plants and ants.
  • Walking shoes or Boots that can support your ankle are important; you might encounter ankle-deep mud at certain points.
  • Gaitors or long socks (to touch the trouser and boots for protection from insects) this depends on personal preference and the type of boots and trousers you use.
  • Smart wool socks 
  • All clothing should be neutral coloured, loose fitting and relaxed clothing.
  • Sunscreen or moisturising cream
  • Sunhat or Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Insect repellent with DEET, please note that DEET can affect man-made fibres and plastics
  • Ziplocs / dry bags and other plastic bags for keeping valuables dry or storing wet clothes
  • Packed lunch, find out what the packed lunch is make sure to have it with you or some energy bars and fruit depending on your preferences. Trekking may last longer into the afternoon. 
  • Enough water minimum of a litre would be okay and should also be part of your packed lunch.
  • Walking stick 
  • You may need to hire a porter to Carry some of your stuff or for support
  • Lastly, do not forget to carry you gorilla permit, your guide will always have the permit printed on the card but just to be sure it is present.

Gorilla Trekking Rules

Before you embark on the trek there are precautions you need to take and safety guidelines, mostly this will be told during the briefing the morning just before your guide leads you to the jungle to seach for these incredible apes. Here are some of them you need to observe.

Before the start:

. Do NOT visit the gorillas if you have a cold or infectious illness, the gorillas would easily get infected too, conserve!

. Gorilla trackers must be fit and in good health to be able to transverse the steep slopes in the impenetrable forest.

. Human waste should be buried 30cm (12”) deep.

. Maximum number of visitors is 8 persons per gorilla group per day.

While with the Gorilla;

. Maintain a 7m (21ft) distance from the gorilla

. Smoking, drinking and eating are not permitted on the tour

. If you must sneeze or cough, cover your face and turn away from the gorillas, as they can catch cough and colds from human.

. Visits are limited to one hour with the gorillas per gorilla group per day

. Do not make sudden movements

. Do not touch the gorilla even if they come closer to you or if they touch you.

. Do not surround the gorillas

. Do NOT use flash photography

Gorilla Families

Uganda apparently has 18 Habituated Mountain Gorilla families which can be visited by tourists. In Buhoma we have Mubare also known as Maraya, Habinyanja, Rushegura and Katwe Families, in Ruhija we have; Bitukura, Oruzogo, Kyaguriro and Mukiza, in Nkuringo we have Nkuringo Family, Bushaho and Chrismas. Rushaga has the highest number of Gorilla families; Nshongi, Mishaya, Kahungye, Rwigi, Bweza and Busingye while in Mgahinga park we have Nyakagezi family.

Bikyingi, Kutu and Mucunguzi in Rushaga are Families under Habituation at the moment and not yet ready for trekking however can be visited by tourists interested in Gorilla Habituation experience.

Before you start your Gorilla Trekking Adventure, we need you to be fore-equipped with information about the gorilla families as definitely you will end up with one of these families. Please note that due to the dynamics of the wild and forces of nature, the information and details provided here may change any time without notice much as we keep updating it time to time so that you can have fast hand details.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Location: Buhoma

Habinyanja Gorilla Family

Size: 12 Members with 1 silverback

Habituated by 1999, the group was first sighted near a swamp in Bwindi Impenetrable forest thus its name Habinyanga from a Rukiga word “Nyanja” which means a water body.  Habinyanja Family in 2002 due succession battles broke up giving birth to Rushegura Family and the two sometimes meet and have peaceful reunions. 

Mubare Gorilla Family

Size: 10 Members with 1 Silverback

Habituated by 1993, this is the Oldest Uganda’s gorilla family. The group was first sighted near Mubare Hill deep in Bwindi forest by the trackers hence its name “Mubare”, (the group is also sometimes called Maraya) this is when a gorilla was first seen in Uganda. The group started with 18 Members but due to life loss and moving to other groups, today the group has only 10 individuals.

Rushegura Gorilla Family

Size: 15 Members with 1 silverback

This group broke away from Habinyanja in 2002 at a place known as Rushegura hence its name; Mwirima who inspired the breakaway from Habinyanja dominated the family. This is a calm group and the most adventurous, it used to cross to the neighbouring DR. Congo, the family is usually seen in the communities in Buhoma and sometimes at gorilla forest Camp.

Katwe Gorilla Family

Size: 10 Members with 1 silverback

Located in the northern sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, Buhoma, Katwe Group took up to three years of habituation and was officially opened up for tourism in August 2018. This group was first sighted at the top of a hill hence the name “Katwe“. This is one of the recently habituated gorilla families,  Katwe family increased the number of habituated gorilla families in Buhoma sector of Bwindi to 4, each can be visited by 8 tourists daily meaning a total of 32 gorilla trekking permits now available daily in Buhoma. Some members of Katwe family keep moving out and back in the group, and the family apparently has 10 individuals including 1 Silverback who leads the family.

Binyindo Gorilla Family

Size: 12 Members with 1 Silverback 

Still in Buhoma sector there is yet another gorilla family, Binyindo the dominant silverback to this group has a cut on the Nose hence the name of the group `Binyindo`, which means bad nose. The group has 12 members with 1 silverback; it is not yet fully opened up to visitors. This is so far the newest group as of April 2019.

Location: Ruhija

Bitukura Gorilla Family

Size: 11 Members with 2 Silverbacks

Habituated by 2008 the gorilla family adopted its name from Bitukura River in the Ruhijja sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. The group has a close relationship with the Kyaguriro family and they usually meet, it took short time of habituation only 15 month due to the frequent encounters of the family members with UWA rangers which made habituation easier.

Mukiza Gorilla Family

Size: 13 Members with 1 Silverback

Mukiza is the name of the leading silverback to this gorilla family; this group faced a breakaway due to dominancy battles, Silver Kyaguriro managed to convince other seven members and they left forming their own group. The family has 13 members including 1 silverback.

Kyaguriro Gorilla Family

Size: 8 Members with 1 Silverback

This group broke away from Mukiza. Initially the group was called Kyaguriro Rukara immediately after the brake away, this gorilla group is used for both tourism and research purposes. This helps the conservationists to study more about the behaviour and lifestyle of Mountain Gorillas.

Oruzogo Gorilla Family

Size: 17 Members with 3 Silverbacks

Oruzogo family was the second habituated gorilla group in the Ruhijja sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park,   this family was opened up for visits in 2011 with 23 members. Today the family has 17 individuals with 3 Silverbacks 

Location: Rushaga

Kahungye 

Size: 16 Members with 2 Silverbacks

The Kahungye gorilla family in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi National Park was opened for tourism activities in 2011 with 27 individuals and 3 silverbacks however in less than a year the group split up forming another family the Busingye Gorilla Family. The Kahungye family has further suffered another break away with Rwigi leaving the Family, now consists of 16 individuals including 2 silverbacks.

Rwigi 

Size: 06 Members with 1 Silverback

Rwigi apparently the new gorilla family in Bwindi Impenetrable forest as of April 2019, Rwigi a silverback that belonged to the Kahungye family broke away with some females and formed his own family, the family was officially opened up for visit by tourists in April 2019. It comprises of 6 individuals including RWigi the silverback.

Busingye

Size: 12 Members with 1 Silverback

Silverback Busingye broke away from the Kahungye family in June 2012 forming his own family the Busingye family. The word Busingye is a local Rukiga word meaning ‘peace’. However, the silverback Busingye is known for fighting with other silverbacks and he would always grab females to add to his family whenever he could clash with other families especially the non-habituated ones, he is ambitious and always wanting to show off his power when he faces others.

NShongi

Size: 07 Members with 1 Silverback

 The Nshongi gorilla family was the largest group ever habituated, the process completed by 2009 with 36 individuals. The family was first spotted near river Nsongi after which the group was named, the word Nshongi refers to the deep colour of the waters of the river. Due to the large size of the group a year later in 2010 Mishaya one of the Silverbacks broke away with 10 other members and formed the Mishaya Family.  Nshongi group was left with 26 individuals and the breakaway has continued to date when the group is comprised with 7 individuals including 1 silverback.

Mishaya

Size: 08 Members with 1 Silverback

Mishaya broke away Nshongi group in 2010 and formed their own family. Their leader Mishaya was a known fighter and he often faced-off with other gorilla families from whom he could always influence females to follow him and he expanded the family. However, today the group has only 8 individuals including one silverback and one black back.

Bweza

Size: 11 Members with 3 silverbacks

Originally, the Nshongi family was the largest gorilla group ever habituated. However, in July 2010 Silverback Mishaya decided to start his own family. Two years later also Bweza, another silverback preferred to separate himself from the rest of the group. Initially, the UWA rangers suspected that they would get back together again, but when it appeared that the split was infinitive, this ‘new’ group opened for tourism in December 2012.

Mucunguzi

Size: 08 Members with 1 Silverback

Mucunguzi is a group still under habituation ad can be visited by tourist partaking in the Gorilla Habituation Experience.

Bikingi

Size: 14 Members with 2 Silverbacks

Bikingi is a group still under habituation ad can be visited by tourist partaking in the Gorilla Habituation Experience.

Kutu 

Size: 11 Members with 2 Silverbacks

Kutu is a group still under habituation ad can be visited by tourist partaking in the Gorilla Habituation Experience.

Location: Nkuringo

Nkuringo

Size: 14 Members with 2 silverbacks

Nkuringo gorilla family was completely habituated in 2004. Nkuringo family was first found around a hill hence its name as the word Nkuringo is a Rukiga word that means “a round hill”. The individuals of this group were often found feeding on crops including bananas and sweet potatoes in the communities and near people’s homes, this caused conflicts with the local communities, the habituation. Habituating this gorilla family and opening it up for tourists was a measure of directly benefiting the local communities at the same time conserving the gorillas.

 Bushaho

Size: 11 Members with 1 Silverback

Bushaho is the name of the place where this group was first sighted, the Bushaho gorilla family is fully habituated and open to tourism activities and comprises of 9 individuals including 1 silverback.

Christmas

Size: 06 Members with 1 Silverback

This group broke away from Nkuringo family, the leading silverback Christmas was born on Christmas day. Together with other 5 members Christmas decided to move on and start their own family. The group is open to tourism activities since 2018, this together with Bushaho increase the number of gorilla families in the Nkuringo sector to 3.

Mgahinga National Park

Location: Ntebeho

Nyakagezi

Size: 10 Members with 3 Silverbacks

Mgahinga National Park only has one gorilla family the Nyakagezi family! The family has 10 individuals including 3 silverbacks, the dominant silverback likes travelling and kept on crossing borders between Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Recently the group firmed its citizenship in Uganda as they have been stable in Mgahinga National Park since 2012.

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