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Habituated Gorilla groups in Uganda Bwindi and Mgahinga

Interested in knowing about all the gorilla groups in Uganda? Or want to know which is the best Uganda gorilla group to Trek? Uganda has a total number of 14 habituated gorilla families with each group comprising of 10 to 40 members of varying ages headed by a silverback gorillas (the oldest male) in the group. Bwindi impenetrable forest hosts 12 habituated gorilla groups groups and 2 more families available for gorilla habituation experience. Only 8 Gorilla permits  are available each day for each gorilla group. Gorilla families are given names depending on their formation history, group location and name of the dominant silverback.

Mgahinga national park hosts just one Uganda gorilla family – the Nyakagezi group. Few visitors go to Mgahinga for gorilla tours despite having one of the the largest gorilla families anywhere around. Mgahinga Gorilla park is the best place to go for Gorilla habituation experience. Detailed information for each of Uganda’s  mountain gorilla groups are summarized in the following paragraphs. Briefly, the gorilla groups in Uganda are:-

  1. Mubare Gorilla Family – Buhoma (Bwindi)
  2. Habinyanja Gorilla Family – Buhoma (Bwindi)
  3. Rushegura Gorilla Family – Buhoma (Bwindi)
  4. Bitukura Gorilla Family- Ruhija (Bwindi)
  5. Oruzogo Gorilla Family – Ruhija (Bwindi)
  6. Nkuringo Gorilla Family – Nkuringo (Bwindi)
  7. Nshongi Gorilla Family – Rushaga (Bwindi)
  8. Mishaya Gorilla Family – Rushaga (Bwindi)
  9. Kahungye Gorilla Family – Rushaga (Bwindi)
  10. Bweza Gorilla Family- Rushaga (Bwindi)
  11. Busingye Gorilla Family – Rushaga (Bwindi)
  12. Kyaguriro Gorilla Family – (Ruhija)
  13. Nyakagezi Gorilla Family – (Mgahinga)

Gorilla Families in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park 

Mubare Gorilla Family – Buhoma (Bwindi)

Because of their location, this is the easiest family to track in Bwindi. The name Mubare originated from the first gorilla trackers in the area. The group currently contains 8 members led by Kanyonyi.  This is the oldest gorilla group in Uganda and opened back in 1993. Initially under the leadership of Ruhondeza, the group has decreased in number over the years from 18 members when first sighted. Infighting, death and member migration to other groups left about 5 by 2012.

Ruhondeza’s leadership ended when another group attacked and took away his females in 2012. Ruhondeza lived for over 50 years and continued to be monitored by researches till his death. His grave is marked and can be located by a guide.

Habinyanja Gorilla Family – Buhoma (Bwindi)

This gorilla group is among the very first to be opened to tourists. The group contains 17 members and is led by Makara who replaced Habinyanja. This group was habituated in 1997 and was then led by silverback Mugurisi (old man). The group was named “Habinyanja” (place with water) in Rukiga because they were first sighted near a swamp in Bwindi. After passing away due to old age, Mugurisi was replaced by his two brothers Rwansigazi and Mwirima who had different personality traits. Mwirima liked staying within a specific range while Rwansigazi loved moving around different sections of the forest. In 2002, the two brothers separated peacefully. Rwansigazi left with part of the group and retained the “Habinyanja” name while Mirimas group was named the Rushegura family.

Rushegura Gorilla Family – Buhoma (Bwindi)

The Rushegura group contains 19 members that include one silverback.  This is the group that was formed when Rwansigazi and Mwirima separated from the larger Habinyanja group in 2002. The Rushegura name is derived from “Ebishegura”, a tree specie common within the family’s territory. Mwirima’s ability to create a stable and calm family is admirable as the number of individuals increased to from 12 to 19 by April 2010. At about 25 years of age Mwirima is strong and dominant, never shying away from confronting wild groups threatening his authority. Because of the groups’ stability and calmness, they are not shy around people and can be seen around lodge gardens.

Bitukura Gorilla Family- Ruhija (Bwindi)

The Bitukura Family has 14 individuals from its original 24. The group is led by Ndahura who took over from the now retired Karamuzi. The group that also has three other silverbacks was named after a river near their territory. Whereas the habituation process for mountain gorillas takes 2 or more years, it took only 15 months with this family. Visitors where first allowed in October 2008 but the group had already had frequent encounters with park rangers whenever they mixed with the already habituated Kyaguriro family.

Oruzogo Gorilla Family – Ruhija (Bwindi)

With 25, members, this is a large group by usual standards. It is the second family in the Ruhija area and includes two silverbacks. Tibirikwata leads the group that first opened to visitors in 2011. The group has grown and is much loved by visitors because of its playful youngsters resulting from several births from the females Ntamurungi (June 2011), Musi (October 2011), and Kakoba (March 2012).

Nkuringo Gorilla Family – Nkuringo (Bwindi)

Nkuringo the great silverback initially led this group that now includes 19 individuals. After his death in 2008, he left two silverbacks Rafiki and Safari. Safari, his son took over from him. The group was first spotted near a round hill hence the name “Nkuringo” in Rukiga. Because the group lived near the villages outside the park, they had frequent encounters with humans and often sneaked to eat crops hence having creating conflicts. It was decided to habituate the group in 2008 to allow the community gain from tourism and see the conservation of gorillas as bringing economic opportunities to them.

Nshongi Gorilla Family – Rushaga (Bwindi)

At the time the group was opened to visitors and tourists in 2009, the Nshongi family had 37 individuals – the largest ever habituated. It currently has 26 individuals and 4 silverbacks. The family was first seen near a river hence the name Nshongi (referring to the deep honey-like color of the river). When it was opened for tourism in September 2009, the family was unique due to its large size. Before they split in 2010, the family lived in harmony despite the many silverbacks. The Nshongi group under the dominant silverback Nshongi remained with 26 individuals while silverback Mishaya moved away with 10 individuals.

Mishaya Gorilla Family – Rushaga (Bwindi)

When Mishaya left Nshongi in 2010, he developed a reputation of starting fights with other gorilla families not only to protect his own, but to also steal females from neighbors. He succeeded in gathering a few females but was wounded in one of the fights with a wild gorilla family (not habituated). Luckily he was treated by gorilla conservation doctors nearby. The group now has 12 individuals with Mishaya the only dominant silverback.

Kahungye Gorilla Family – Rushaga (Bwindi)

This group contains 13 members including 3 silverbacks led by Rumansi. Ruhamuka and Rwigi are the other old males. The group was only recently (2011) opened for visitors. The group had 27 members when habituated but split shortly after creating another group Busingye. The Kahungye group is led by “Gwigi” (door in the local dialect).

Bweza Gorilla Family- Rushaga (Bwindi)

This group was opened to visitors in 2012. The group evolves from the Nshongi gorilla family which was the largest family ever habituated in Bwindi. When Silverback Mishaya separated from Nshongi in 2010, Bweza left him two years later (2012) with six members. The group contains 9 individuals still led by Bweza.

Busingye Gorilla Family – Rushaga (Bwindi)

This group was opened to visitors in 2013. Busingye leads this group of 9 members after splitting away from the Kahungye family in 2012. Though his name means peace, Busingye is known for frequent fights and stealing females from neighboring Gorilla groups. He is very ambitious, dominant and uses every opportunity to show his power.

Kyaguriro Gorilla Family – (Ruhija)

The Kyaguriro group contains 15 members led by Rukina who grabbed power from the old Zeus. The gorilla group has been set apart for research by conservationists and limited access is given to visitors. Researchers have come up with interesting findings from this group. Their findings show some differences in behavioral tendencies between Uganda’s Gorilla families, Rwanda’s Gorilla families and  Congo Gorilla familes.

Gorilla Families in Mgahinga National Park

Nyakagezi Gorilla Family – (Mgahinga)

There is only one habituated gorilla groups in Mgahinga National Park. The group is unpredictable and often migrates to Rwanda and Congo led by Mark the dominant Silverback. Apart from Mark, there are 2 other silverbacks in a group of 10. Because of their unpredictable movements, viewing the family can be difficult. Although they have currently settled in Uganda, you need to contact the authorities through your tour operator to know their exact.

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Customer Reviews

Ngoni Safaris Uganda

Customer Reviews

Michael T 06/June/2021

Above & Beyond
Review of: 3-Day Gorillas trekking and Batwa Experience
Sedrick went above and beyond to accomodate our request for an itinerary alteration due to our compressed time in Uganda. He also compeltely took care of scheduling our covid 19 testing and drove us to the site on arrival.

Our driver/guide Ben was also outstanding!

**We highly recommend using a porter during gorilla trekking as their are some complex parts to the trail/terrain. This also benefits the local people by providing them work.**

David 24/June/2021

Seeing Lots of Animals and Uganda
The schedule suited my time in Uganda exactly and was a great opportunity to view some of the top wildlife and natural wonders of the country. Lodgings range from mid-range to near upscale and are in beautiful locations. Food is good and ample. My driver, Stanley, was expert at spotting wildlife and, very importantly on the Ugandan roads, a careful and skilled driver. You see various parts of the country on this tour, and due to distances, be aware you'll spend quite a few hours on the road. One thing they might add is an itinerary going into more detail ahead of time on each day's activity and suggested things to bring. I was concerned about the needed COVID test for return home, but they took care of arranging that, and it turned out successfully. Overall the tour was a real highlight and is highly recommended.

Justo Nov 18, 2019

I went on an 11 day safari visiting Kampala, Jinja, Lake Mburo NP, Bwindi NP, Queen Elizabeth NP and Kibale NP. Communications with Ngoni were prompt and easy from the start. As soon as I made my booking, Sedrick contacted me through WhatsApp and guided me through the rest of the process. Leading up to the tour he made sure I was well-prepared to begin. He was always very clear and friendly. Service was exceptional. I had the pleasure of going on this safari with three members of Ngoni's staff - Sedrick, Nelson and Joel. These guys made my comfort their priority from the moment we met. Whether it was checking if I was okay with the accommodations or making sure I always had a bottle of water, I always felt like I was being well taken care of. Nelson is an excellent guide. His knowledge about the flora and fauna of Uganda was extensive, always able to answer any questions I had and was eager to teach - it's obvious that he has a great love for his country and it's environment and is eager to share this love with his clients. My experience with Ngoni and Uganda surpassed all expectations I had. Absolutely amazing, and thanks to the guys at Ngoni it feels like a new home - can't wait to come back and visit. Webale, brothers!

Stephany Aug 13, 2019
Sedrick was unique and stood out from the rest in the high quality communication he provided since the first inquiry. He called me to provide information about the itinerary and see if I had any questions even before booking the tour. We communicated through WhatsApp for any other questions that came to mind after that call. After picking me up from the airport, he and Pilot (additional tour guide) provided plenty of information about the country to give me some context and we started our long drive to the impenetrable forest. The food was delicious with many options; the accommodation was very clean with exceptional service; and the transportation from Entebbe to Bwindi park was very comfortable (although long). As a solo female traveler, both tour guides (Sedrick and Pilot) did an exceptional job at enduring I accomplished everything intended to in Uganda, and always made me feel safe. I highly recommend to book your safari with this company because the quality and professionalism will not let you down.

Shakira Dec 14, 2018

Ngoni safaris uganda is the best tour operator in Uganda. A few weeks back we traveled to Bwindi impenetrable with sedrick to explore the beauty that is Uganda. This company took care of us . with most comfortable car , Great guide .We highly recommend it to the next travelers

Winnie Dec 19, 2018
I was going on a gorilla safari with my friend and this was going to be the first ever safari for the both of us. Luckily, the communication with the office was super easy and we got answers to all of the questions we needed. The driver / guide (Sedrick) was very professional and funny and made our time very pleasant. Also, he had a proper knowledge of the local area close to the Mgahinga national park and he promptly spoke some 7 languages which we thought was super positive. The safari was surely the highlight of out East African trip!

Ritah Jan 2, 2019
My Team and I did a five day trip, including Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Murchison Falls and Kidepo. It was truly an incredible experience. Our guide, Sedrick, was knowledgeable, skilled in driving in some challenging settings and just plain fun to hang out with for five days. The lodging was perfect, especially Savannah Lodge. The tents and beds were high quality. The views were spectacular. Meals were delicious and varied. I recommend Ngoni safaris Uganda with all my heart and soul!

Pilot May 28, 2019
Our six days trip was amazing. The driver/guide had an incredible knowledge of animal and bird-life and are so interesting to talk to. His driving skills through lashing rain and massive puddles was admirable! The cooks managed to produce varied and delicious meals from the kitchen, which we ate both at accommodation or roadside when we were travelling from one place to another . At all times we felt safe and well-looked after. All in all, an incredible experience, due not only to the abundance of wildlife we were lucky enough to see, but also to the great efforts put to have our Safari a better one . The safari was full of fun. Traveling with ngoni safaris is my life time memorable experience and I highly recommend it to travellers who would love to visit uganda or EastAfrica for holidays, vacations or Adventure.. Even five stars are too small .