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mountain gorilla
Mountain go rilla spotted in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda© African Pearl Safaris

Uganda is home to about half the world’s population of mountain gorillas, with the majority of them living in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Bwindi has as many as 11 habituated gorilla families available for tourists to track, while Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has one. There are four different locations in Bwindi where the families can be tracked: Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, Nkuringo.

Below we have provided a list of Uganda’s habituated mountain gorilla family groups, along with their respective locations:

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Mubare gorilla group

Location: Buhoma (northern Bwindi)

Found in Mubare Hills in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, the Mubare family is the oldest habituated gorilla group in Uganda. The group started with 12 family members and later grew to 18 individuals. Unfortunately, due to fights with other wild gorilla groups, it lost several members, and remained with five members for a number of years until March 2013 when four other members –  including a new dominant silverback – joined. Uganda gorilla permits for Mubare are in high demand from tourists due to its convenient proximity to Queen Elizabeth National Park and short tracking hike.

Habinyanja gorilla group

Location: Buhoma (northern Bwindi)

The Habinyanja group has 18 members including two silverbacks, and was first visited by tourists in 1999. Habinyanja is a fascinating family with a lot of drama and commotion caused by power struggles between the dominant silverbacks and fights for family leadership. Tracking mountain gorillas in the Habinyanja family takes about 3-8 hours.

Rushegura gorilla group

Location: Buhoma (northern Bwindi)

The Rushegura gorilla family came together in 2002, after one of the silverbacks from the Habinyanja group decided to break away. The Rushegura group is a calm family of 19 members, including one silverback. In the past they used to cross the border and venture in the neighbouring DR Congo every now and then, but they always returned and have now settled in Bwindi.

Mountain gorilla trekkers and guide
Ranger guide with tourists tracking mountain gorillas in Bwindi © African Pearl Safaris

Bitukura gorilla group

Location: Ruhija (northeastern Bwindi)

Bitukura is a peaceful family of 14 members including four silverbacks. The 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 frequently encountered by the Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers prior to the habituation. Originally, the Bitukura family had 24 members, but due to disputes within the family some gorillas simply chose to leave the group and were probably recruited by other families.

Oruzogo gorilla group

Location: Ruhija (northeastern Bwindi)

Situated in Ruhija area, the Oruzogo group is one of the more recent families in Bwindi. This family has 16 members including one silverback. The family has got playful and energetic juveniles which have made it one of the most popular gorilla families visited by tourists.

Kyaguriro gorilla group

Location: Ruhija (northeastern Bwindi)

The Kyaguriro family is a habituated group that is not visited by tourists, and has been reserved for research and other studies. Keeping in contact with this group helps conservationists learn more about the mountain gorillas of Bwindi, including some remarkable differences with the mountain gorillas that live in the Virunga National Park in the eastern DR Congo.

Nkuringo gorilla group

Location: Nkuringo (southern Bwindi)

The Nkuringo family has got 18 members including two silverbacks. The family was led by one silverback named Nkuringo who died in April 2008, leaving behind two silverbacks: Safari and Rafiki. Tracking the Nkuringo group is a bit demanding. The trek is tough but totally worth it once visitors encounter this family in the southern area of Bwindi.

Young mountain gorilla in Uganda
Baby gorilla feeding in Bwindi © African Pearl Safaris

Nshongi gorilla group

Location: Rushaga (southeastern Bwindi)

Nshongi was once the largest group ever habituated with about 36 gorilla members (with four silverbacks), and was officially introduced in September 2009. It was named after the river Nshongi, where the family was first sighted. In July 2010, however, the group split and numbers dropped to 26 members, with the other split forming the present Mishaya group. In 2013, the family split further and were reduced to 18, with the new split forming the present Bweza group with 10 members. The Nshongi group is in a large forested area where you can also see other primates, birds and butterflies.

Mishaya gorilla group

Location: Rushaga (southeastern Bwindi)

In July 2010, silverback Mishaya decided to leave the Nshongi group with some females and start his own family. He is a typical fighter and was able to gather more females from other non-habituated groups in the area. Mishaya is the only adult in the group and is known for being a fighter who often starts interactions with other gorilla families.

Kahungye gorilla group

Location: Rushaga (southeastern Bwindi)

The size of this group is 13 members with three silverbacks. Visitors and gorilla tracking to the Kahungye group commenced in 2011, but in less than a year the group split, creating the new Busingye group. Before the separation, the family consisted of 27 individuals (including three silverbacks). Busingye is one of the newest groups in the park found in the Rushaga sector close to the Nshongi and Mishaya groups.

Busingye gorilla group

Location: Rushaga (southeastern Bwindi)

The Busingye gorilla group is another family that has split, having broken away from Kahungye group back in June 2012. It was the silverback Busingye who decided to split and create his own family. Busingye in the local language means ‘peace’, which is quite surprising since this ambitious silverback is known for his legendary fights with other groups. He likes showing his power and whenever encountering a wild family he mercilessly grabs a female to add to his own family.

Bweza gorilla group

Location: Rushaga (southeastern Bwindi)

The Bweza family split from Nshongi group – which used to be the largest ever habituated group in Bwindi. Early in 2013, there were speculations by the Uganda Wildlife Authority park management that the Bweza split would return and bond again with Mishaya, but this never came to pass and was later introduced for tracking.

Mountain gorilla trackers in Uganda
Ranger guides in Bwindi © African Pearl Safaris
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Nyakagezi gorilla group

Location: Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

The Nyakagezi group is the only family in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The group is led by Mark, the dominant silverback, who likes travelling and keeps crossing the borders between Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. Over the past few years, however, the group has been stable and they are trying to settle on the Ugandan side since November 2012, and are likely to stay for a while.

Africa Geographic Travel
African Pearl Safaris

African Pearl Safaris is a leading tour company in Uganda. It was the first company to take tourists to Bwindi for gorilla trekking in 1993. African Pearl Safaris specialises in gorillas and chimpanzee tracking safaris, classic wildlife safaris, mountain hiking expeditions, cultural tours, boating and fishing in Lake Victoria, lodge/hotel bookings, family adventure tours, and excursions in Uganda and Rwanda.