Gorilla Trekking Regions in Uganda.
Uganda is one of the 3 African countries homing the endangered mountain gorillas. Uganda is blessed with almost half of the total population of these endangered species. With two National parks entirely dedicated to these Gentle Apes, Uganda homes almost ½ of the total world’s population of mountain gorillas.
Uganda has two areas for trekking the mountain gorillas that is Bwindi impenetrable National park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
Bwindi National Park:
It is in the southwestern part of the country with an approximate area of 33sq km. Gorilla trekking started way back in 1993 in the Buhoma sector. Kabale is the nearest big town with facilities like banks, ATMs, a shopping center and many more. Bwindi is a UNESCO and world heritage site because of its ecological importance and biodiversity.
It is the main gorilla trekking destination od Uganda with 4 tracking sectors or trails namely:
Buhoma is found in Kanungu district. It is the first place where gorilla tracking started from. It has 5 habituated Gorilla groups.
It was the first group to be habituated and tracked. It is found in the mubare hills. It was fully habituated in 1993 under the leadership of Ruhondeza the dominant silver and had up to 18 members. He died in 2013 after a vigorous fight with a blackback in the family who was doubting his leadership by then. Kanyonyi r expanded the group which had reduced to 5 members to 9 and currently to 11 members.
It is one of the indigenous groups to be habituated between 1997 and 1999. It gets its name from a local word meaning the pool of water. It was initially under the leadership of silverback Mugurusi during its habituation process. He passed on and left leadership to his sons Rwansigazi and Mwirima. Later on, Mwirima broke away from his brother and formed his group Rushegura. This was because Rwansigazi wanted to explore distant places while his brother wanted to leave in the same area.
Rwangasigazi passed on his power to his son Makara the current silverback. The group is currently made up of 18 members.
It was habituated in 2000 and opened for tracking in 2002. It disintegrated from the Habiyanja group. It is very mobile within Buhoma and sometimes can be spotted around the premises of UWA offices, Buhoma camp, and some Batwa Villages. The group was led by Mwirima who died in 2015 leaving leadership to Kabukojo the black back. The group currently has 16 members.
Katwe Gorilla Group.
It is one of the newest gorilla families in Bwindi. It was announced to the public by the Uganda wildlife authority in August 2018 after 3 years of habituation. With the availing of this group, it increased the gorilla permits available at Buhoma from 24 to 32 permits a day since only 8 members can track the gorilla family in Uganda and Rwanda. It was launched alongside the Christmas group in Nkuringo. The group is led by a dominant silverback Katwe, and currently has about 10 individuals with 4 adult females, 3 blackbacks, and 2 infants.
Muyambi gorilla family.
It was unveiled to the public in 2019. It is the newest gorilla group in Buhoma. Muyambi was a member of the mubare group who split away to form his group. The group recently had an addition in 2020, however, the current number of members in this group remains uncertain.
It lies on the eastern side of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.it can be accessed through Buhoma or Kabale. It has 4 habituated gorilla groups. It has a strong touch an experience of ecotourism because the area is still undisturbed and less crowded. It was open for gorilla tracking in 2018.
It is made of 14 members, it is the most peaceful group in this sector. It has 4 silverbacks. This group is also known for organizing family meetings and gatherings. It previously had over 24 individuals but split up because of power struggles.
This group has 23 members with 1 silverback which is well known for its outstanding size. The group has very Playful juveniles and toddlers. It is one of the newly habituated groups in 2011. It demands a minimum level of fitness to track the group since it takes most of its time in very steep areas with high latitudes.
This group is reserved for research and only 6 people can track this group.it has a total number of 21 members with 8 Adult females under Rukina. He died after leading the group for 11 years. This group often has wrangles with Mukiza another silverback in the group. After his death, a migrant silverback from the Bitukura family Rukara took over leadership. The continued fights later led to the breakdown of the group to form the Mukiza group.
It broke off the Kyaguliro group. It can also be known as Kyaguliro B. it is led by silverback Mukiza. It was formed in 2016 after Mukiza broke away from the main Kyaguliro A group. It has 13 individuals, 1 silverback, 6 female adults 2 sub-adults, I juvenile, and 3 infants.
It lies in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Kisoro district. It is the sector with the highest number of gorilla families. It is the only sector that has the habituation permits in Bwindi.
Nshongi Gorilla Family.
It is the largest habituated family. It formerly had over 36 members but currently has 24 members with 1 dominant silverback Nshongi. 2 silverbacks, 3 blackbacks, 6 adult females, 6 juveniles, and 3 infants. The group has for a longer time frame stayed peaceful with no power struggles.
It split from Nshongi in 2010 due to disputes under the leadership of silverback mishaya. He went away with some adult females from Nshongi. The group Started with 7 gorillas with I silverback, however currently it has 12 individuals with 3 infants.
The family is made up of 13 gorillas, 3 silverbacks, and the dominant silverback being Rumansi, the others silverbacks are are Rwigi and Rahamuka. the group was nearly ready for tracking in 2011but further broke up for another group called Busingye.
This group has 9 gorillas with 1 dominant silverback, 3 infants, and 2 adults. It broke away from Kahungye in 2012.
It is comprised of 7 members. 1 silverback, 2 infants. It split from the Nshongi group and it is the most versatile group of all in the Rushaga sector.
The Gorilla habituation process is restricted to 2 gorilla families Bikingi and Bushato. Trackers are allowed 4 hours to experience and explore the daily behaviors of these gorillas together with researchers and the ranger and veterinary doctors.
It is situated in the south of the Park. This sector has is famously known for the silverback Rafiki who died brutally in the hands of poachers. However, the sector has 3 habituated Gorilla groups. It was the 2-sector established after Buhoma in 2004.it is very challenging to reach the gorilla families because of the steep and rugged landscape.
It was the first habituated family in this sector. It has 19 gorillas with 4 blackbacks, 4 adult females. right after its habituation, it had 20 members. Silverback safari led the group after the death of silverback Nkuringo. Safari disappeared after an Encounter with the Bushaho group and Rafiki took over the leadership of the family.
The group has 12 members. It was the second group available for gorilla tracking after Nkuringo. It is led by silverback Bahati. The group has s1 silverback, 1 black back, 1 sub-adult female,2 juveniles, and 2 infants.
This group was named after a dominant silverback who was born on Christmas day. It split from Nkuringo Group and did not go through the habituation process because it was already fully habituated. The group has 6 members. 1 dominant silverback, 2 adult females, 1 sub-adult, and 2 juveniles.
Besides Bwindi impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga National Park is also known for gorillas and golden monkeys. It is also another area where gorillas can be tracked in Uganda. It is at the border with Rwanda and DR. Congo. The park has one habituated gorilla family known as Nyakagezi. The group has 9 members with 4 silverbacks, 2 infants, 2 adult females, and 1 juvenile. The current dominant silverback Mark took over from his father Bugingo who is over 54 years old and still leaves within the group. This group lives within the slopes of the Virunga Ranges. The family has a very stubborn baby called Rukundo which is often catching the eye of all trackers who visit this park. The group was also famously known for its migratory behaviors but permanently settled in Mgahinga.
It is easily tracked in Uganda because it is found in the lower altitude and prefers a small home range for nesting, relaxing, and feeding.
Besides gorilla tracking in this Park, it has other areas of interest like the summits of the 3 volcanoes of Muhabura, Gahinga, and Sabinyo. They are famous for intermediate hikers and junior hikers. The beautiful gorge with unique birdlife and drainage systems like rivers, waterfalls, unique flora and fauna, The golden monkeys, the different Albertine Endemic bird species, and Batwa trails with unique and interesting cultures.