Congo Gorilla Families are one of the most fascinating attractions in Congo that tourists can see when they choose Congo as their gorilla trekking destination. The country is blessed to have both the lowland and mountain gorillas found in three different national parks all of which that offer the best experiences of gorilla tours and many more because they not only have gorillas as tourist attractions but also other attractions like the golden monkeys, different bird species and relief features like mountains both dormant and active volcanoes and so on.
Gorillas in Congo can be tracked in Virunga National Park a park is known for a number of attractions including the active volcanoes of Nyamuragira and Nyiragongo which has signs that it will erupt for example during the hiking of Mountain Nyiragongo, tourists can see lava underneath the earth’s crust which is quite interesting once seen because of the wonders the earth offers. The park is also home to the endangered mountain gorillas and the low land gorillas which are one of the most sought after attractions in the park.
The park has also got the golden monkeys which are also listed as endangered however tourists interested in seeing the golden monkeys and can visit Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Other animal species that the park has include the mammals including the elephants, bushbucks, antelopes and many more. The park has also got a number of amphibian and reptile species and so many more which make a tourist visiting Congo for gorilla safaris have an experience for a lifetime.
Congo is blessed with both the lowland and mountain gorillas and aside from Virunga national park which is most common for having high numbers of gorillas, there are different parks in the country where tourists can see the gorillas for example: Kahuzi Biega National park, the park is a home to the low land gorillas which are different from the mountain gorillas that is the eastern low land gorillas are found in the low land areas of the mountains which is not the case of the mountain gorillas which are found in the higher altitudes of the mountains, and so many more .
Gorillas in Congo can also be found in Maiko national park are park known for rich biodiversity including high numbers of the eastern chimpanzees, the low land gorillas, the African elephants and many more all of which will attract tourists while on their Congo gorilla safari tours. Congo is one of the untouched tourism destinations that a tourist will find fascinating because of its number of attractions including different bird species and a number of animal species and many more.
Virunga Gorilla Families
Although different parks have a number of gorillas, not all of them can be trekked because some of them are not habituated and the habituated ones are the safe ones for tourists to visit and spend time with. Some of the gorilla habituated groups in Congo can be found in Virunga national park and Kahuzi Beiga National Park has 12 gorilla groups but only 4 are habituated and can be trekked by tourists.
Congo gorilla families can be accessed by tourists interested in carrying out the Congo gorilla safari tours which can be rewarding to the tourists however its is important to put in mind that each gorilla permit that is visited, a maximum of 8 people are allowed to visit it this is because of the vulnerability and how fragile the mountain gorillas and their environment they live in is. The following are the gorilla families that can be trekked by tourists in Virunga National Park.
Kabirizi Gorilla Families: The group comprises of 19 members with a dominant silverback known as Masibo, before the group was dominated by Kabirizi, it was dominated by a strong silverback known as Ndugutse who was assassinated by the rebels during the first Congo war which led to the death of many gorillas, it should be noted that due to the political unrest in the country the number of gorillas declined the numbers were more than 600 gorillas but during the war many gorillas migrated to the nearby countries that is in Uganda and Rwanda leaving a few behind. However, this does not limit the fun that tourists will have once they meet the gorilla families that stayed behind.
Kabirizi gorilla group has gone through many problems after losing their silverback Ndugutse and there are still many conflicts for the right of being the dominant silverback Masibo another silverback is fighting tooth and nail in order to become the dominant silverback. It is believed that Kabirizi will eventually give up because of the humble nature and personality which is not the same as that of Masibo who is quite aggressive.
Bageni Gorilla Family: The Bageni gorilla group is the largest gorilla group with a total number of 26 members just like the Kabirizi gorilla family, the Bageni gorilla family has got a number of conflicts that have risen due to the need for leadership by other silver backs in the group that is Kitagenda and Kanamaharagi who are also interested in having a share of leadership like the dominant silverback Bageni who is also determined not to give away his dominance as yet. It is also believed that the group will also split due to the increased opposition from the silver backs in the group.
Nyakamwe Gorilla Family: To be different from many of the gorilla families in Virunga national park, Nyakamwe gorilla family is a newly habituated gorilla group with 11 members headed by Nyakamwe. The group can be compared to the Amahoro group of Rwanda which is the most peaceful gorilla family in volcanoes national park Rwanda. The same applies to the Nyakamwe gorilla family; it has not received any conflicts after its habituation all the group members live in peace and harmoniously without any conflicts this has made it one of the best gorilla families to track in the Virunga National Park.
Munyaga Gorilla Group: Munyaga gorilla group has also received a share of sadness when its female gorilla known as Bilali lost the twins it had given birth to died has attracted many tourists to come and see the family because it is rare for gorillas to give birth to twins they usually give birth to only one young one which was such a miracle to the group however it was such a misfortune when they lost them.
The gorilla family is also famous for the bald-headed gorilla known as Kadogo whose appearance is quite unique from other members of the family and he’s quite interesting to look at. The group is now headed by Gasure who dethroned Mawazo to become the dominant silverback. It should be noted that before Mawazo became the dominant silverback, Munyaga was the leader of the family however after his disappearance for two years and Mawazo took over leadership and also took over the adult female Bilali.
Lulengo Gorilla Family: Lulengo gorilla family is found in the Joba area of the park which is accessible to tourists to track. The family is composed of 9 members. the group got its name Lulengo as a way of paying tribute to the technical director of Virunga national park Lulengo who was killed by a land mine but before the gorilla family was called Musekura after the dominant male Musekura who is quite peaceful and great to live with because he ensures that the park good to track. There is peace among the family members and just like Nyakamwe gorilla family, the Lulengo gorilla group is a peaceful group to track.
Humba Gorilla Family: Humba gorilla family just like the Nyakamwe gorilla family, the gorilla family is the calmest gorilla family to visit within all the Virunga gorilla families in the park. It comprises of 9 members and it is led by a silverback known as Humba. The group was formed in 1998 after its split from the Rugendo group where Humba and his brother Nyakamwe left the group and went to start their own family, but this was impossible because of the need for everyone to lead, thus leading the group to split and Humba was left with 6 members who have increased to nine and Nyakamwe left with 10 members.
Rugendo Gorilla Family: Currently, the gorilla family has 9 members but before the conflicts that arose after Rugendo’s son, Humba got into a fight with which led to the split of the gorilla family. Initially, the group had over 18 members. In 2001, Rugendo’s group was caught up in the military clashes due to the political unrest in the country which led to the killing of four gorillas including Rugendo and in 2007 the adult females safari and Neza were also killed.
After Rugendo’s death, his other son Senkwenkwe took over power and leadership of the group however as history repeats itself he was also killed by Congolese rebels. After senkwenkwe’s death, silverback called Bukima took overpower however it should be noted that it took a lot of time for the Rugendo gorilla family to get a dominant silverback/ leader and by this, to some it was interpreted as a sign of mourning from the family members for the tragedies that took place. With the 9 members of the family, there are 3 silverbacks,1 Adult female,3 Blackback,2 babies and these can be found moving around the Mikeno sector in the Virunga national park.
Mapuwa Gorilla Family: Mapuwa gorilla family is found in the jomba region of Virunga national park, currently the group has 22 gorilla members and it should be noted that the Mapuwa was also a son of Rugendo but because of the continuous struggles and the need to rule by different silver backs in Rugendo’s group, this led to the splitting from his father’s group in order for him to start his family.
On leaving the group, Mapuwa left with 2 adult females Mafaze and Jicho but because of his need for power and governance, he went on collecting and stealing members from other gorilla families in order to increase the number in his group. Interesting about the gorilla family is that Mapuwa took all of the members of pili pili a strong gorilla in the park making him a loner. The group is currently headed by Mvuyekure another strong and courageous silverback.
Kahuzi Biega Gorilla Families
Tourists on their Congo safaris/ Congo tours can not only see a number of gorilla groups in Virunga national park but also in Kahuzi Beiga because the park has 12 gorilla families however only 4 habituated and present for gorilla trekking as explained below:
Chimanuka Gorilla Group: Chimanuka group is another interesting gorilla family tourist should not miss out to trek while on their Congo safari reason being among the families in Kahuzi Biega national park, it has the most interesting facts about the gorilla family is the fact that it has the highest number of gorilla members which are over 37 in total with a dominant silverback known as Chimanuka. The group also has 4 sets of twins which can be fascinating to watch when they are seen by the tourists.
Mugaruka Gorilla Group: Mugaruka gorilla group is dominated by a silverback known as Mugaruka whose right hand was lost after being trapped in the poacher’s snares when he was just 3 years, however, this did not hold him back at the age 10 years, he became the dominant silverback of his father’s group Mushamuka. Mugaruka has faced many challenges from different gorilla families which is because of the fact that he is disabled this led to different power struggles from Chimanuka but this has not stopped Mugaruka to fight for his family however during the process he has lost many individuals.
Mpungwe Gorilla Group: Mpungwe gorilla family is another interesting family the tourists can trek while on their Congo safari/ Congo tour. The family was named after river Mpungwe where they were first seen and discovered. Interesting about the family is the dominant male Mpungwe who is aggressive in nature but his well behaved that he cannot attack tourists when they visit his family.
Another gorilla family that is habituated in Kahuzi Beiga national park is the Bonnani Gorilla Group which is the smallest habituated gorilla family in Kahuzi Biega national park comprised of 5 individuals this because it is one of the new groups that have been habituated.
Best Time to Visit Congo Gorilla Families
The best time to visit gorilla families in Congo is during the dry months that is from June- august and from December to February this is because some of the gorilla families for instance in Virunga national park are found along the mountain slopes which involves hiking to locate and this can be tricky during the rainy season because the hiking trails become slippery.