Planning for gorilla tracking in Congo, the Virunga National Park has 10 Gorilla families habituated. They are the only gorillas available for tracking and tourism purposes. Though, due to instabilities in the area the approximate number of gorillas in not quite known but the last census estimated them to be over 100 with about 7 newborns. Let’s look at the ten groups of these endangered gorillas present in this park for the purpose of Congo Gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park.
The latest family named after Rachel Baraka. Rachel Masika Baraka was one of the 26 women rangers among park’s wildlife force. She was killed in a Congo gorilla trekking while accompanying British tourists to Mikeno Lodge last year in Virunga National Park. Therefore, the park decided to name this family after that fallen hero. The group is led by the Silverback Baraka. Baraka is known to be the father to many Silverbacks in Virunga National Park. Congo Gorilla Trekking Families
Munyaga group is found in Bukima area of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Silverback Munyaga was a lone wild Silverback before 1998. In February 1998, Munyaga met Buhanga group then headed by the adult female Nsekuye and took advantage of the absence of a dominant Silverback in the group and made himself the group leader. Later the group interacted several times with Kabirizi group until Munyaga lost all his females to Kabirizi group. After that, Munyaga disappeared for two years (2007-2008). Following his disappearance, Mawazo took over leadership of the group until today. Currently the group is made up of 9 individuals including 3 Silverbacks, 2 Adult females, 2 Juveniles, and 2 babies. All of them are ready to receive you in the Congo Gorilla trekking.
Rugendo is among the first groups to be habituated alongside Rugabo and Zunguruka in 1985. At its formation, the group was led by the Silverback Rugendo which was unfortunately killed by rebels in 2001 in Bukima area. Rugendo is also known to be the father to many Silverbacks in Virunga National Park, namely; Mapuwa, Humba, Ruzirabwoba, Mukunda, Nyakamwe; Mburanumwe; Baseka; Kongomani; Lubutu and Bahati. After his death, his son Senkwekwe took over leadership of the group until early 2007 when he was murdered with 5 other gorillas of his group by unknown people.
The group remained without leadership for a couple of months until 2008 when the solitary Silverback Bukima took over its leadership. Bukima was initially a member of Buhanga group and spent some time in Munyaga group before becoming a solitary Silverback in 2005. Rugendo group is currently headed by the Silverback Rugendo and composed of 9 individuals including 3 Silverbacks, 1 Blackback,1 Adult female, 2 Sub- adult females and 2 babies. Rugendo group is fond of moving around the Mikeno sector between Bukima and Bikenge and waiting for you for the Congo Gorilla trekking. Congo Gorilla Trekking Families
The Bageni group is found in Bukima and Gatovu areas of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – DRC. This group is headed by the Silverback Bangeni and is composed of 26 individuals including; 1 Silverback, 2 Blackbacks, 10 Adult females, 1 Sub-adult female, 3 Juveniles, and 9 babies.
the nBageni group was formed in January 2013 after Bageni the silverback split from his father’s group (Kabirizi group). Bageni moved away with 20 individuals including his mother Mapendo and brothers and formed his own group called Bageni. this family is among the calmest and preferred by visitors during the Congo gorilla trekking.
The Nyakamwe group is headed by the Silverback Nyakamwe and found in Bukima area of the Virunga National park in the DRC. The group was created in 2014 as a result of the split in Humba group. Nyakamwe Silverback had internal conflicts with his brother Humba and ended up leaving the group on 20/04/2014 with 10 individuals, leaving Humba group with only 5 individuals. Currently, Nyakamwe group consists of 11 individuals including 2 Silverbacks, 1 Blackback,3 Adult females,1 Sub-adult female, 2 juveniles and 2 babies. Congo Gorilla Trekking Families
This family has 16 gorillas and one silverback. It is found in the Bukima area near the Goma sector. Humba is the dominant silverback and he heads this group himself. This is the calmest family in this park is it is preferred to be tracked by everyone. Humba split from the Rugendo his father in 1998. The group is visited by visitors tracking gorillas in the Mikeno southern sector during the Congo gorilla trekking.
This group is found in Jomba area of the Virunga National Park in the DRC. Mapuwa group was formed in 1998 by Mapuwa Silverback. Mapuwa is a son to the Silverback Rugendo and evolved in Rugendo group. In August 1995, Mapuwa left Rugendo group at the same time as his brother Ruzirabwoba for solitary life. On 01/08/98, Mapuwa interacted with Lulengo group and grabbed 2 females (Kagofero and Kanepo) to form his own group – Mapuwa. Mapuwa group is currently composed of 22 individuals including; 3 Silverbacks, 3 Blackbacks, 6 Adult females, 2 Sub-adult females, 4 Juveniles and 5 babies. Mapuwa group is currently headed by the Silverback Mapuwa. The group has received dozens of visitors in the Congo Gorilla trekking.
Lulengo group is found in Jomba area of the Virunga National Park in DRC. Initially known as Rugabo, the group’s habituation started in 1985 with the Silverback Rugabo as the group head. Unfortunately, Rugabo and 2 other females were brutally shot dead in 1994 in Jomba. Related to this incident, the juvenile Mvuyekure (current Silverback in Mapuwa family) was carried away by poachers with the aim of selling him off in Uganda; fortunately, Mvuyekure was rescued and the poachers were arrested and imprisoned.
And following the death of Rugabo, his son Lulengo took over leadership of the group which was composed of 12 individuals at the time. A couple of interactions that saw to the transfer of some individuals from Lulengo to other groups was witnessed, for instance; in 1998 Lulengo interacted with Mapuwa group and a good number of his members crossed to Mapuwa while in 2014 another interaction was noted between Lulengo and Rugendo – this saw to the transfer of the juvénile Lulengo from Lulengo group to Rugendo group. Currently, Lulengo group is led by the Silverback Lulengo and composed of 9 individuals including;1Silverback, 3 Adult females, 1 Sub-adult male, 1 juvenile and 3 babies.
This group is also found near the Goma area and its headed by the dominant silverback Kabirizi. The group has 34 members with two silverbacks.
The Group derives its name from the ICCN director who died in a fatal car accident in the 1990s. The group was formerly known as Ndungutse led by Ndungutse himself who died during a rebel war in the area. The family has 19 members.
Congo is located in the tropics and with this it experiences tropical climate and weather throughout the year, both Virunga and Kahuzi Beiga National Parks experience the same weather, this both national Parks are prone to receiving uncertain rains any time of the day or week,
good months to visit Congo for gorilla trekking are dry season months which occurs in the months of December, January, February, June, July, August and September during these months
it always easy to walk through the trails which are drier compared to the wet months then as well the vegetation is not fully grown and this makes sighting of gorillas easy and more clear.
Other months which are slightly wet that is March, April, May, October and November most travelers avoid visiting gorillas during these months because the vegetation is fully grown and trails are much slippery making the trekking even much difficult.
For tourists interested in visiting Congo for gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park have a special gorilla trekking offer during the wet season that is low season, during this time the gorilla permit costs USD200 per person per trek during the months from Mid-March to May and Mid-October to Mid-December (15th March to 15th May and 15th October to 15th December every year).