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Gorilla Groups – Rwanda Volcanoes National Park

The exhilarating climb to the Mountain gorilla’s natural habitat of shady bamboo forest offers fantastic views in all directions, before the trackers are immersed in the mysterious intimacy of the rainforest, alive with the calls of colourful birds and the chattering of rare golden monkey. Nothing can prepare one for the impact of encountering a fully-grown silverback gorilla, up to three times the size of an average man, yet remarkably peaceable and tolerant of human visitors.

Book your permit : Gorilla permits can be booked via email: info@primatesafari.com.

10 Gorilla Groups

Group 13 name changed to Agashya (meaning special)

Family size: 27 members, including 1 Silverback

This was the first habituated group and has grown from an initial 13 members! Can be found in the same area as the Sabyinyo group,

Sabyinyo Group

Family size: 13 members, including 2 Silverbacks, one of whom is the biggest of all the silverbacks in the volcanoes.

This group resides in the gentle slopes between Mount Sabyinyo and Gahinga and thus are easily accessible.

Amahoro (‘Peace’) Group

Family size: 18 members, including 2 Silverback

Generally to be found on the slopes of Mt Visoke – intermediate in difficulty.

Umubano (‘Live Together’) Group

Family size: 13 members, including 2 Silverbacks

This group was formed by members of the Amahoro family after one of the males (Charles) broke off in order to lead his own group. Their territory overlaps with that of the Amahoro Group.

Kwitonda Group

Family size: 23 members, including 4 Silverbacks

This family is named after the dominant Silverback of the group and means ‘humble one’. The group inhabits the lower slopes of Mt Muhabura and is also one of the more difficult families to track.

Karisimbi Group

Family size: 16 members, including 2 Silverbacks.

This group was formed when the largest gorilla family, Susa split into 2 groups. This hike is categorised as difficult and as its name denotes the group is found on lower levels of Mt Karisimbi.

Ugenda Group

Family size: 11 members including 2 Silverbacks

This group is found around Mt Bisoke and the hike is generally not too difficult.

Bwenge Group

Family size: 11 members including 1 Silverback

This group is found around Mt Bisoke and the hike is generally not too difficult.

Susa Group

Family Size: 33 members, including 2 Silverbacks

This group sometimes migrates to higher altitudes making them harder to track. The group is well known for having twins: Byishimo and Impano. This was also the group originally studied by Dian Fossey. Drive from the starting point from Kinigi takes approximately one hour and clients should be prepared for a severe hike. This group split in 2008, the name of the group which split from Susa is called Karisimbi with 15 members including 3 silverbacks.

Hirwa Group

Family size: 16 members, including 1 Silverback

This is still a relatively new group which was formed from two different families, Group 13 and Sabyinyo. Usually to be found in the foothills of Mt Sabyinyo on the Gahinga side. This group has two twins born at the beginning of 2011.


Uganda primate Safaris

Rwanda Primate safaris

Costs for gorilla permits:

  • USD $750 per person for non-nationals
  • USD $375 for foreign residents
  • 30,000 Frw for Rwandan citize

Gorilla rules

To protect the gorillas and visitors, the following rules must be adhered to:

  • no one with a communicable disease, such as flu or diarrhea, is allowed to visit the gorillas
  • do not surround the gorillas but remain in a tight group
  • leave a distance of at least 5m between you and the gorillas
  • if they approach you, move back slowly
  • flash photography is strictly forbidden
  • do not eat or smoke within 200m of the gorillas
  • if you need to sneeze or cough, turn away from the gorillas and cover your nose and mouth
  • burry all human faeces in a hole dug at least 30cm (one foot) deep and ensure that it is properly filled in afterwards.
  • All litters must be removed from the park for disposal
  • Do not spit on vegetation or soil while in the park
  • No person under 15 years is allowed to track gorillas
  • When with the gorillas, avoid making loud noises or sudden movements
  • Contact time with the gorillas is strictly limited to one hour
  • Please observe all instructions from your  guide.

What to take – a checklist

  • Solid walking shoes or boots
  • Rain gear and hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Camera

Porters are available at a modest cost