HABITUATED GORILLA GROUPS IN UGANDA & RWANDA
Habituated Gorilla Groups in Uganda
As of June 2019, there are 16 habituated gorilla groups in Uganda which are for tourism purposes. Of these 16 groups, 15 are within different locations in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and 01 in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. These are the groups where the tourists visit on a daily basis. A maximum of 8 persons can visit each of the 16 gorilla groups per day spending a maximum of one hour each visit. The Bwindi gorilla groups are organized according to the location; Buhoma area currently having 4 groups, Ruhija area currently having 4 groups, Nkuringo area group having 2 Gorilla groups (One group for habituation experience only) and Rushaga area having 5 groups (One group for habituation experience only). The two groups under Gorilla Habituation Experience have a special arrangement where one can visit these groups for habituation experience spending a maximum four hours in each visit. There is only one gorilla group available for tourism in Mgahinga gorilla National Park.
Habituated Gorilla Groups in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
Frequently inhabits the closest territory to the park’s edge, between mount Sabyinyo, from which the group takes its name and mount Gahinga. They can usually be reached within a two hour walk. The group is led by Guhonda, the largest silverback measured to date, at 220kg.
The Amahoro group
This means, Peaceful, is led by Ubumwe, who lives up to his name. There is a steep climb to reach the tranquil Amahoro group, however, the climb is well worth it, once in contact with this tranquil group.
This is led by Charles the silverback who took part of the Amahoro group to create its own when he matured into the same rank as Ubumwe. The two silverbacks have met since, but Ubumwe seems to respect Charles and the two groups live peacefully alongside. Indeed, Umubano means “live together”.
Susa is currently the largest group of gorillas in the world and the one originally studied by Dr. Dian Fossey. In this group you will also find the oldest known habituated gorilla, poppy, who was born in 1976. The group takes its name from the Susa River which has its source in the Virunga Mountains.
The Kwitonda group include the three silverbacks. This group came across to Rwanda from Uganda and the DRC to establish itself on the slopes of Mount Muhabura.
The Agashya group was named after, it’s Commanding Silverback, whose name means “The News”. Agashya’s takeover was unprecedented: he won the group over by first studying the former leader, Nyakarima and then challenging him. Agashya group is known to spend most of its time on the forested saddle between Mount Sabyinyo and Mount Gahinga
The Hirwa is an emerging group of members from the other groups. It is the newest group, residing mainly on the foothills of Mount Sabyinyo on the Gahinga side. Its name means “lucky one”.
Besides above there are other groups that have of recent been formed such as;-
- Titus group
- Isabukuru group
- Pablo group
When is the best time to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda?
When choosing to go gorilla trekking, your options lie between Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. But for those hoping to trek mountain gorillas, deciding what time of year to visit these majestic creatures can have a big impact on both your experience and your wallet.
Located along the equator and home to the beautiful Lake Victoria, Uganda is fast becoming one of the most unique and sought after travel destinations in all of Africa. The country has two rainy seasons: the short season lasts from October to November and the long rainy season lasts from mid-March to the end of May. The rest of the year is considered Uganda’s ‘dry season’. This said, climate change in recent years has brought about changes in weather patterns, making it harder than ever to predict the seasons.
When to go gorilla Trekking
In Uganda and Rwanda, temperatures average around 22C° and can drop at night to around 12C°. The level of rainfall in Uganda is between 1,000-2,000mm per annum. However, the region generally offers clear skies throughout the year, making gorilla trekking available year-round.
Many visitors choose to travel to Uganda and Rwanda between June and September and between December and February as there is generally less rain and more sun during these months.
December is one of the busiest months of the year, so it’s advisable to book your accommodation early to avoid disappointment.
If you are looking for the best conditions for gorilla trekking and aren’t worried about pricing, the dry seasons are ideal. The countries also have a raised topography which means that the climate is fairly cool all year round so despite some serious leg-work you aren’t likely to ever overheat.
Often travelers prefer going on a gorilla safari in low season as the gorilla groups are less congested and easy to find gorilla trekking permit in Uganda as they are always on a competitive demand. The cost of the gorilla trekking permit remains the same both in low season and high season. The cost of Gorilla permit in Uganda is at $700. for Foreign non Residents of East Africa, Foreign Residents pay $600. and East African Citizen member states pay UGX. 250,000 to visit the mountain gorillas.
Visiting in this season also means that you can enjoy the jungle with relatively few people. It’s also said that February and September are good months for a holiday in Uganda as there are less tourists visiting so the lodges are not as full as they are in high season. It also means you can also often get discounted lodge and hotel prices.
While the rainy season can have an effect on travels in Rwanda and Uganda, a day is almost never lost to the rain. Most days will have both rain and sunshine, meaning that despite some wetness, it is usually not long before you can continue with your activities as planned. Whether it rains or not, gorilla tracking is conducted every day and is almost never canceled because of bad weather.
All in all, gorilla safaris in Uganda and Rwanda in the low seasons are more pocket-friendly. One thing to note though, while you might find some great specials on accommodation, in Rwanda gorilla permits are never discounted, even in the low season, with the current price of a gorilla permit in Rwanda at US$1,500 per person.
No matter what time of year you decide to go gorilla trekking in the region, a visit with the gorillas will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable experiences of any tourist’s travels.