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Gorilla, Uganda

Uganda offers some fantastic things to see and do. Explore wildlife-rich protected areas to find the iconic African animals.

Enjoy the Queen Elizabeth National Park for game drives, Kibale National Park to find chimpanzees and monkeys, see many beautiful lakes, and visit the famous Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

It’s within Bwindi that you find the majority of Uganda’s gorillas.

The world’s population of mountain gorillas is split between the Virunga Mountains (shared between Uganda, the DRC and Rwanda) and Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

This forest is protected by the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which is a World Heritage Listed Site covering over 320 square kilometres (124 square miles) of both lowland and montane forest. This is the best place for Uganda gorilla treks.

To give an idea of the climate in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, here is information on monthly temperature and rainfall.

Climate in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest • in/°F | mm/°C

The majority of Uganda’s gorillas are found within the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. However, you can also find a few individuals in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park found near the Virunga Mountains (mentioned at the bottom of the article).

The gorilla groups in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are accessed from the different park trailheads. These are Nkuringo, Buhoma, Rushaga and Ruhija. Buhoma is found towards the northwest of the park, Ruhika is in the east, and Nkuringo and Rushaga are in the south.

Of the 15 gorilla groups in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you can find the following number of gorilla families at the trailheads.

  • Nkuringo: 2 gorilla families
  • Rushaga: 4 gorilla families
  • Buhoma: 4 gorilla families
  • Ruhija: 5 gorilla families

Registration for gorilla treks is at 7.30am, briefing is at 8.00am and your trek begins at 8.30am.

Uganda’s Mountain Gorillas

There are now around 1,000 mountain gorillas in the wild (source). The number has been steadily increasing over the last few years because of tourism and intensive protection.

Mountain gorillas differ from their lowland cousins by having thicker and longer fur to cope with the colder temperature at higher altitudes.

The males are larger than females growing to over 5 foot 7 inches (1.7 meters) tall and weighing around 342 lb (155 kg). They are herbivores and feed on a mixture of shoots, leaves, flowers and fruits.

Many researchers link the survival of mountain gorillas with tourism.

Gorilla near Nkuringo Lodge, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

Gorillas seen on the gorilla trekking tour from the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Uganda. Enjoy comfortable accommodation, transfers, delicious meals, and guided gorilla treks to see the gorillas.

Gorilla Tourism in Uganda

Tourists pay for gorilla trekking permits, which helps fund rangers to protect the gorillas from poaching and habitat loss. Not only this, but tourists help draw attention to these incredible animals and the conservation issues threatening their homes. To learn more about threats and the work being done to protect the gorillas, you can visit the Gorilla Doctors website.

In Uganda, gorilla tourism began in 1993 with the habituation of the Mubare gorilla family in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Habituation is when gorillas are brought in contact with people to familiarise them with having visitors in their group. This means the gorillas don’t see visitors as a threat and continue normal behavior.

Mountain gorilla groups are led by the silverback. He is the dominant mature male in the group who is responsible for protecting the family from threats and deciding where to go in the forest.

In 1993, the silverback named Ruhondeza showed the world that gorilla trekking was possible with his calm and accepting behavior.

There are now 15 successfully habituated gorilla groups in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. One of these is observed for research while the others can be visited on gorilla trekking tours

Uganda’s Mountain Gorillas

Now let’s mention the gorilla families found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Note that this is just an indication as groups are constantly changing, as males start new families and females join other groups.

We will update the below information periodically to keep it as close as possible to the current situation of gorillas in Uganda.

The Nkuringo gorilla group

The Nkuringo gorilla group is one of the largest gorilla families in Uganda. There are currently 18 individuals in the Nkuringo group led by the dominant silverback named Safari.

The group is also home to one other silverback named Rafiki and is found in the Nkuringo section of the park.

The Katwe gorilla group

Found in the Buhoma section of Bwindi, this is the newest habituated gorilla family in the park. The family has 7 individuals led by the dominant silverback named Katwe.

The Rushegura gorilla group

The Rushegura gorilla group is composed of 17 members led by the silverback Kabokojo. This is one of the most visited gorilla groups and is found in the Buhoma section of the park.

The Habinyanja gorilla group

The Habinyanja gorilla family is composed of 16 individuals including one silverback named Makara. The family split from the Rushegura family mentioned above and is found in the Buhoma section of Bwindi.

The Mubare gorilla group

Found in the Buhoma section of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the Mubare gorilla family includes eight members led by the silverback named Kanyonyi. This was the first gorilla family habituated for visitors and continues to be one of the most popular groups to visit.

The Bitukura gorilla group

The Bitukura gorilla is led by the silverback Karamuzi. The group is composed of 14 family members and is found in the Ruhija section of Bwindi.

The Oruzogo gorilla group

The Oruzogo gorilla family is one of the newest groups habituated in Bwindi. They are found in the Ruhija sector and were habituated in 2011.

The group is led by the silverback Busungu and includes 16 members.

The Kyaguriro gorilla group

Found in the Ruhija area of Bwindi, the Kyaguriro gorilla family is the gorilla family not accessible to tourists. Instead, the group is observed by study groups to learn more about these incredible animals.

The Bitukura gorilla group

The Bitukura gorilla family is found in the Ruhija section of Bwindi and includes 14 individuals led by the dominant silverback named Ndahura.

The Mishaya gorilla group

The Mishaya gorilla family separated from the Nshongi group and is led by the blackback Mwine after the unexpected death of silverback Miyasha. The group lives in the Rushaga area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. There are now 11 gorillas in the group.

The Nshongi gorilla group

The Nshongi family is found in the Rushaga section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The family once contained an impressive 36 individuals but split to form the Mishaya group and Bweza group. The dominant silverback is not even the oldest male, which is rare in gorilla families. There are currently 18 members led by silverback Bweza.

The Kahungye gorilla group

The Kahungye group is found in the Rushaga section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The group is composed of 23 members and was habituated in 2011. The group is led by the silverback Kasigazi.

The Busingye gorilla group

Led by the silverback Busingye, the group split from the Kahungye family above and is now composed of 10 individuals. The group is found in the Rushaga section of Bwindi

The Bweza gorilla group

The Bweza gorilla family split from the Nshongi gorilla group and is found in the Rushaga section of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The family is composed of seven individuals. The group is led by the silverback Kakono.

The Christmas gorilla group

Found in the Nkuringo section of Bwindi, this is one of the newest habituated gorilla families in the park. The family has 9 individuals led by the dominant silverback named Christmas.

The Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

The Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is Uganda’s protected sections of the Virunga Mountains tropical forest.

The Virunga Mountains are where you find the rest of the world’s population of mountain gorillas. This is an area of tropical forest shared by Uganda, the DRC and Rwanda.

The Mgahinga Gorilla National Park covers 33.9 square kilometres (13.1 square miles) of wildlife-rich forest, which is home to elephants, buffaloes, golden monkeys, leopards, and many other animals.

The stars of the park are the mountain gorillas.

The Nyakagezi gorilla group

In this section of Uganda’s tropical forest, you can find the Nyakagezi gorilla group. This is the only habituated gorilla group found in Mgahinga.

The Nyakagezi gorilla group is composed of 10 individuals led by the silverback Mark.

Ash - Author & Travel AdvisorAbout the Author: Ash Card is a frequent visitor to the Tropics and has a passion for helping visitors get the best experiences from tropical locations. Ash is a contributor to both TourTheTropics.com and ThinkJungle.com writing about tropical destinations, rainforests and wildlife. Feel free to contact Ash for tour help in the tropics. When not helping tourists with tours and info, Ash can be found salsa-ing the night away or posing near waterfalls.
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