In Rwanda, there are currently officially 8 habituated gorilla groups that tourists are able to track. Although, it is hoped that the recently ‘new’ Karisimbi Group, split from the Susa Group, will be opened up for tracking increasing the total number of gorilla permits available.

Rwanda’s 8 Habituated Gorilla Groups that are tracked by tourists:

Susa-A Group
Family size: 28 members with 3 Silverback.

The Susa Group was famously studied by Dian Fossey and was the largest gorilla group consisting of young twins named Byishimo & Impano. The group was named after the Susa River which lies within their home range. The group, however, have now split into 2 separate groups, the Susa-A Group and the Karisimbi Group-Susa-B Group. The Susa-A is now usually found relatively low down in the forest.

Karisimbi Group-Susa-B.
Family size: 15 members

The Karisimbi Group is better suited to visits from more serious hikers. It appears that they have established their home range high up on the slopes of the Karisimbi caldera. Thus, a visit to this group may well end up as a full-days trek.

Sabyinyo Group
Family size: 12 members with 1 Silverback.

The Sabyinyo Group is usually found relatively close to the edge of the forest (about 20-40mins) in the gentle slopes between Mt. Sabyinyo & Mt. Gahinga, and thus is normally easily accessible. The family is led by the powerful Silverback Guhonda. Guhonda has kept his main challenger, Ryango, out of his group as a lonely Silverback.

Agashya Group formally known as Group 13
Family size: 26 members with 1 Silverback.

Group 13 was the first habituated group. The group has expanded in number from the initial 13 members to 25 individuals. The Silverback of Agashya Group is particularly relaxed.

Amahoro Group
Family size: 17 members with 1 Silverback.

The Amahoro ‘peaceful’ Group is a tranquil family led by Ubumwe. The Amahoro Group is the most peaceful of all the gorilla groups. However, peace comes at a price. Ubumwe, the group’s Silverback is so peaceful and calm; he has lost group members to Charles in the Umubano group. The trek to see the Amahoro group can be challenging up fairly steep terrain.

Umubano Group
Family size: 12 members with 1 Silverback.

Meaning ‘neighborliness’s, the Umubano group was formed by members of the Amahoro family led by Charles, now the dominant Silverback. Charles, fed-up of being given orders by Ubumwe, of similar rank, challenged Ubumwe for leadership. Finally, Charles formed his own group snatching a number of females from the Amahoro Group. Since then, Charles has commanded respect and recognition from Ubumwe.

Both the Amahoro and the Umubano Group’s usually live between the Karisoke & Visoke peaks. Both are usually further from the park headquarters than the Sabyinyo and Agashya Groups, but easier to reach than Susa-A, the Karisimbi (Susa-B) Group.

Hirwa Group
Family size: 12 members with 1 Silverback – from the Susa Group.

Meaning ‘lucky one’, Hirwa is a relatively new group that emerged in June 2006, formed from 2 different families, the former Group 13 (now Agashya Group) and Sabyinyo Group. Despite being recently formed, Hirwa exhibits strength and holds its own amongst all the other established groups.

Kwitonda Group
Family size: 20 members with 2 Silverbacks.

The Kwitonda Group was habituated in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2005 the group crossed the border into Rwanda and has since remained there. The Kwitonda family is named after the dominant Silverback of this group and it means the ‘humble one’.