Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park has a historic connection with gorilla conservation that is supported by the several international organizations like Gorilla Doctor, International Gorilla Conservation among others. It was the base for the ground-breaking work of primatologist Dian Fossey which started in the late 1960s and is evocatively portrayed in the book and film “Gorillas in the Mist”. The most famous destination in Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park has become synonymous with mountain gorilla tracking safaris and no visit to the country would be complete without visiting these majestic primates.

Tourism in Volcanoes National Park is well established. For the most part, the gorilla tracking experiences and hotels operate smoothly and the people are friendly, appreciating the value of visitors to their economy and their area. Indeed, some of the lodges actively work with the local communities on projects for job creation and education, offering interesting visits to local villages.

There are several options for accommodation near Volcanoes National Park, and quite a range of choices – from simple and basic, to more up market. Those in Ruhengeri and Kinigi generally fall into the lower budget categories while the more expensive lodges can be found on the outskirts of the park or scattered further afield making it the best gorilla tracking place to be.

There is no other wildlife experience quite like an encounter with mountain gorillas. That precious hour spent in their company – watching the group playing, sulking, teasing each other, eating, or dozing just like we do – is extraordinary. And the gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park are among the best in Africa.

Rwanda is now home to twelve habituated groups of mountain gorillas that are scattered all over Volcanoes National Park. You will leave early in the morning for your briefing at the Park Head Quarters and then in parties of eight will be taken to your allocated group with a guide and trackers. Gorilla trekking can be arduous – some of the groups wander high up the mountainsides – but it is always utterly rewarding.

Encounters can never be guaranteed, but any time spent with them will never be forgotten. Eco Tours Rwanda is the best ideal company to travel with since they offer free transportation to and from the air port yet at an affordable cost in range of all client categories.

Before your visit to the gorillas, a guided walk into the mountains can be good for acclimatization. It also allows you to spend more time looking at the other wildlife in forest, and to gain a better understanding of the overall ecosystem.

Gorilla Families in Volcanoes National Park

  1. Susa group. This was the largest group before its split with over 40 members and was the group studied by dian Fossey, headed by kurira which means crying. The name Susa is derived from the Susa River along their home area. It’s the hardest group to trek as they range high into the mountains at the lower slopes of mountain Karisimbi it has a family of 28 individuals with 2 silver backs. The group is famous of the young twins named byishimo and impano and it also has the oldest habituated gorilla called poppy born in 1976.
  1. Karisimbi family [Susa B]. This has 16 individual including two silver backs and is the group that split from Susa in 2008 that’s why it’s at times called Susa B family. they stay high at the picks of Karisimbi volcanoes which takes a full day trekking. The trekker should be fit and health to enjoy this trek.
  1. Sabinyo gorilla group. This is the easiest group to access they are usually at the edge of the park. The group is led by guhonda the biggest, massive and strongest silver back gorilla of all having 220 kgs. It has 8 members with 2 silvers backs. The name was given after Sabyinyo volcanoes meaning old teeth. They are mostly found in the gentle foothills of mountain Sabyinyo and mountain Gahinga.
  1. Amahoro gorilla group. The trekking of this group endures a fairly steep climb. This group is led by the ubumwe having 17 individual with 1 silverback, 2 black backs, 5 adult females, 2 sub adult males, 2 juveniles and 5 babies. Its name is derived from the peaceful and congeniality character. they are often found roaming at the slopes of mountain Visoke and their trek is medium difficulty
  1. Group 13. These are also known as aka Agasha group. The name is derived from its first 13 habituated members but gradually increased to 27 members being led by agasha meaning the news with 1 silver back, 2 adult females, and 2 sub adults’ females, 3 juvenile and 7 babies. Can be found in the same are as Sabinyo groups.
  2. Umubano group. These broke off from Amahoro after a fight between ubumwe and Charles who is there leader. Charles stole a few females and formed his own group. They are now 11 with 2 silver back, 1 sub adult male, 3 adult female, 3 adult female and 6 babies. Their name means living together and is always found in the same area as the Amahoro.
  1. Kwitonda family. This is led by Kwitonda meaning humble and has 18 members with 4 silverback and one black back. These migrated from DRC and range far making there trekking moderately difficult like the Susa they are found on the slopes of mountain Muhabura.
  1. Hirwa group. The group emerged from two different existing families of group 13 and Sabinyo forming there own in 2006. They are led by munyinya and has 9 individuals 1 silverback,3 adult females, 2 sub adult females and 3 babies. They are usually found at the foot hill of mountain Sabyinyo on the Gahinga side. Hirwa means lucky one. This group also had twins born to them at the beginning of 2011.
  1. Bwenge family. It’s a new group formed in 2007. The name Bwenge means brightness or wisdom and the group is led by Bwenge who left his former group and was joined by other females from other groups. It has 11 individuals mostly found at the slopes of the Karisoke / Bisoke volcanoes and its trekking is moderately difficult. This group faced some difficulties of losing 6 of its infants. This is also the group whose members where featured in the movie gorilla in the mist.
  1. Ugenda family. This family has 11 members with 2 silverbacks and it’s led by ugenda. Its name means mobile / departure because it was always moving from one area to another. This group is found around mountain Bisoke and there hike is both easy and moderately difficult that’s they are not difficult to hike but many times they keep on moving from one place to another.

Although there are some difficulties in the trekking, guides always have to trace where these families are a day before the trekking and porter to carry luggage’s if the trek you are taking is relatively difficult involving long hours of trekking at a small fee.