Gorillas move to new places every day and never stay in one place twice. There is nothing like closet or furthest gorilla family, trek terrain may be different but the time taken is unpredictable. A 2 or 3 hour trek today could be tomorrow’s 6 or 7 hours.
Mubare Gorilla Family
This was the first group to be habituated for tracking, the habituation started in 1991 and this group was named after the stunning Mubare Hills in which this group was discovered. It has a family size of 9 members including 1 silverback located Buhoma. The group started with 12 family members led by the dominant silverback ‘Ruhondeza’. In a few years the group grew to 18 individuals. Unfortunately, due to fights with other wild groups, it lost several members including the one Ruhondeza who used to take care of everyone else in the party. The group remained 5 members for several years until march 2013 when 4 other members including a new dominant silverback joined and its now an interesting group to visit.
Rushegura Gorilla Family
Rushegura Group was habituated in 2000 for tracking and received tourists in 2002. It is a huge group within the Buhoma area. It comprises 19 members including 1 silverback located in Buhoma. They started with 12 individuals including 5 females. This ‘Habinyanya 2 group’ quickly received a new name that derives from ‘Ebishegura’. A tree specie that was abundant in the home area of the new family. The Rushegura group is a calm family. In the past they used to cross the border and venture in the neighbor DRC every now and then but returned and have always been in Buhoma village and sometimes even wander through the gardens of Gorilla Forest Camp.
Bitukura Group is among the newest groups in the forest. It is found and roams the verdant forest within the Ruhija area. This family comprises of 14 members including 4 silverbacks located in Ruhija. The Bitukula group was named after a river where the family members were first sighted. The habituation that started in July 2007 was a relatively easy process as the gorillas were already be visited by tourists within 15 months after the start. Bitukura is a peaceful family including 4 silverbacks and some playful juveniles. They share a close bond and often have ‘group meeting’ or get together. Originally, the group had 24 members but due to disputes within the family, some gorillas simply chose to leave the group and were probably recruited other families. To visit this family, it is advisable to stay in the Ruhija area.
Kyaguriro Gorilla Familly
The group has a size of 15 members including Kyaguriro is another habituated gorilla group that is not visited by tourists and has been reserved for reserved for research and other studies.
Oruzogo Gorilla Family
This family comprises of 16 members including 1 silverback located in Ruhija sector. The Oruzongo group one of the recent gorilla families opened for visitor access in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. this family is situated between Ruhija area and is led by a dominant silverback ‘Tibirikwata’. It’s the latest habituated gorilla family and was opened for Tourism in 2011. This increased the great opportunity for more visitors to track the gorillas in Bwindi. Its one of the most popular families with tourists not just because of the size but the playful and energetic juveniles and toddlers in the group. The only problem in the Ruhija area of Bwindi where the group is found is that there are a few lodging options especially budget ones. Yet it’s possible but not advisable for visitors to sleep in Buhoma area which is over an hour drive away then drive to Ruhija area for a pre-tracking orientation.
Nshongi Gorilla Family
The family has 18 members and it was the largest group ever habituated with about 36 gorilla members and was officially introduced in September 2009. It was named after the river Nshongi where the gorilla family was firdt found. Although most gorilla families usually consisting of about 25 members have one or two silverbacks, this was a strange one with 4 silverbacks. Another remarkable fact is that the group is led by Nshongi who is not even the oldest silverback in the family and that the three silverbacks and seven blackbacks lived in harmony with each other and did not make an attempt for leadership. In July 2010, the group split and remained 26 members with the other split forming the present Mishaya Gorilla group. In 2013, the family further split and reduced to 18 with the new split forming the present Bweza Gorilla Group with 10 members. The Nsongi Gorilla Group is in a large forested area where you can also see other primates, birds and butterflies.
Mishaya Gorilla Family
Comprising of 7 members including 1 silverback, this family is located in Rushaga. In July 2010, silverback Mashaya decided to leave the Nshongi Gorilla group with some females and started his own family. He is a typical fighter and was able to gather more females from other non-habituated groups in the area reaching a total group size of 12 gorillas including three infants. Mishaya is the only adult in the group and is known for being a fighter who often starts interactions with other gorilla families. By the end of 2013, the group was 7 gorilla but some gorilla families some times are joined by friends or even acquire more member in successful battles. Visitors normally sett off from the park headquarters at Rushaga. For those who choose to walk it takes approxiamtely 30min to the trailhead. The Silverback Mishaya left the Nshongi Group with 9 others in July 2010 to form the Mishaya Group
Kahungye gorilla family
This family has a size 13 members with 3 silverbacks which are the only ones named. The dominant silverback is called Rumansi followed by the other two old male gorillas named Rwigi and Ruhamuka. The group was opened for visitors and gorilla tracking in 2011, but in less than a year the group split creating the new Busingye Gorilla Family. Before the separation, the family consisted of 27 individuals including 3 silverback. Busingye is one of the newest groups in the park found in the Rushaga sector close to the Nshongi and Mishaya gorilla groups.
Bweza Gorilla Familly
This gorilla family comprises of 7 members including 1 silverback. This family is on Nshongi group that used to be the largest ever habituated in Bwindi. However due to silverback Mishaya’s decision to leave the group and start his own family in 2010, he left with reasonable number of them including the silverback Bweza. Towards the end of 2012, Bweza chose to be independent, he walked away with about 6 other members from the Mishaya gorilla group.
Busingye Gorilla Family
This family comprises of 9 individuals including 1 silverback. Busigye family is another splitter gorilla family having broken away from Kahungye family in 2012. It was silverback Busingye who decided to split and create his own family. Busingye means ‘peace’ which is quite surprising since this ambitious silverback is known for his legendary fights with other gorilla groups. He likes showing his power and whenever encountering a wild family he mercilessly grabs a female to add to his own family. Permits are received from the Bwindi local Uganda Wildlife Authority Office.
Nkuringo Gorilla Family
Nkuringo is a local word meaning ‘round hill’ it’s a word from Rukiga language referring to the hill where the group was first sighted Nkuringo group was launched in 2004 after the 2 year habituation process. One of the reasons for their habituation was their continued venture into the local communities’ gardens feeding on bananas, sweet potatoes and other crops.
The family was led by one silverback Nkuringo who died in April 2008, leaving behind 2 silverbacks Safari and Rafiki. Safari took over the leadership and in the same year in November, newborn twin baby gorillas Katungi and Muhozi arrived and expanded the family further. Unfortunately, Katungi died at the age of one and half years due to illness. Tracking the Nkuringo Group takes a bit more energy and stamina. This is probably the toughest trek in Uganda. Yet there is not many complaining about being exhausted, a better word would be exhilarated after the experience of a lifetime. Nkuringo family is a large group in the southern scemic area of Nkuringo and not to be forgotten experience. The group is composed of 19 members including 2 silverbacks.